Ask a Theologian a Theological Question (closed)

The latest installment of my ask a question blog posts. You know what to do.

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36 Responses to Ask a Theologian a Theological Question (closed)

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    I am looking into the Brown Scapular.
    Is the Sabbatine Privilege that I will not go to Hell and be released from Purgatory on the Saturday after my death true?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I would interpret the “not go to Hell” portion of that promise as dependent on avoiding grave sin, or at least repenting prior to death. The benefit is the help of God’s providence and grace toward the end of dying in a state of grace. All the faithful who live a prayerful life have this same benefit. The scapular devotion is promising something that can be obtained in many ways.

      The “released from Purgatory on Saturday” benefit is, I think, figurative, meaning that one’s time in Purgatory will be short — figuratively represented as one to seven days — but will vary depending on the sins, repentance, and penance of the individual.

    • Marco says:


      Fr. William Most, a thomist, explained the difference between ordinary Grace and extraordinary Grace.

      Let me quote his own words

      He says “God has two modes of moving,
      ordinary and extraordinary”.

      He then explains the ordinary mode and, after having done that, he explains the extraordinary mode

      “In the extraordinary mode: God sends a grace, but the man resists
      it or has made himself blind, by much sinning, so he does not even
      perceive the good thought of what God wills and which grace tries
      to make clear in his mind. Such a thought is needed to start the
      process, but, according to 2 Cor 3:5: “We are not sufficient to
      think anything of ourselves, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency
      is from God. In the ordinary mode, God would simply permit that resistance
      to have its effect, but in the extraordinary mode, He forestalls
      resistance or cancels it out. If He does this, that is, if He
      forestalls resistance or cancels it out, then the first decision on
      what is to happen does not come from the man as it would normally,
      in accord with CG 3:159 which says a man can impede, with which
      St. Paul agrees in 2 Cor 6:1: “We urge you not to receive the grace
      of God in vain. Instead, in the extraordinary mode the decision on
      whether it will be effective or not comes from God.
      As we said above, if God forestalls the resistance or cancels
      it out, then the first decision comes from God, not from the man.
      This is in accordance with what Thomas said in I – II, 112.3: “If it
      is the intention of God who moves that man, whose heart He is
      moving, should receive grace, he infallibly receives it.” But
      that, being a diminution of freedom, has to be extraordinary, since
      God normally observes His grant of free will. To routinely not
      observe that grant would be self-contradiction for Him. God can
      routinely do this.“

      I believe that the various promises (the Brown Scapular, the first Fridays devotion, the promises attached to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and many others) can mean that God will make use of extraordinary means to save these souls.

      For example, let me quote the promise attaches to the first Fridays

      “I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who shall receive communion on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”

      I think that the use of extraordinary graces is implied for these souls….[edited, see below]

    • Ron Conte says:

      Sorry, but I edited out a link and quote. You linked to the website of an author who plagiarized my work in eschatology (Bruce Cyr). Also, the quote is from an unapproved private revelation, one which seems like it might be false to me.

      No, we can’t apply what Fr. Most says about extraordinary grace to those devotions. They are very widespread, and the promises attached pertain to eternal salvation. God does not force anyone into Heaven against their will.

    • Marco says:


      What Fr. Most said about extraordinary Grace wasn’t about forcing people into Heaven.

      I think that when a soul is given an extraordinary Grace, said souls wants to repent, it’s not like God obliges people to repent and to be in the state of Grace,

      From what i can tell, extraordinary graces make sure that you freely want to repent. Since this concerns eternal salvation, i don’t see how it wouldn’t be fitting to use extraordinary graces to save an hardened soul.

    • Ron Conte says:

      You have misunderstood what Fr. Most was saying and what the Church in general teaches on salvation and grace.

    • Marco says:

      “You have misunderstood what Fr. Most was saying “

      Then, please, tell me: what he really said about extraordinary graces? If what i said is wrong, what did he really say in the aforementioned paragraph?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The question does not apply to devotion which are widespread, but to the effectiveness of God’s grace in the face of free will. Can God ever compel free will with grace? His answer is only in exceptional (extraordinary or rare) cases. So this cannot be applied to popular devotions, practiced by millions of persons. And it is not the type of grace that would make the difference between heaven and hell.

    • Marco says:

      “And it is not the type of grace that would make the difference between heaven and hell.”

      Maybe not between Heaven and Hell, but between Hell and Purgatory. :)

      Then again, if a soul is obdurate and God, as Fr. Most said, forestalls its resistance, i don’t see how this wouldn’t make a difference, expecially if we are talking about the end of life.

      Also, in your response to Tom Mazanec above, you wrote

      “The benefit is the help of God’s providence and grace toward the end of dying in a state of grace”

      And, again, if God’s providence offers a special help toward the end, so that the faithful can die in the state of Grace, i see two possible ways:

      1. God makes said person die in a moment where he/she is free from actual mortal sin.


      2. God offers the “extreme Grace” Saint Faustina was talking about when she said

      “God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly it seems as if everything were lost. But it is not so. The soul illuminated by a ray of God’s POWERFUL FINAL GRACE turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things. Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! Although a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that INTERIOR VIVID MOMENT , so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God (Diary, 1698).”

      Now, it seems clear to me that if what Saint Faustina said is true (and i see no reasons to disbelieve her, since her revelation was even approved by the Church), only particularly obdurate souls would be lost. In other words: many souls commit actual mortal sins, but only the very corrupt souls die without repenting.

      And, in fact, she said, in that same chapter

      ““But – horror!- there are also souls who VOLUNTARILY AND CONSCIOUSLY reject and scorn this Grace! Altough a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that INTERIOR VIVID MOMENT, so that IF THE SOUL IS WILLING, It has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes the OBDURACY in souls is so great that CONSCIOUSLY THEY CHOOSE HELL; they [thus] make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to them and even the efforts of God Himself”.

      Now, the souls who make that decision are most definitely corrupt souls, persons who decided to be “the bad thief”, who scorned Jesus Mercy on the cross.

      Maybe, in some extraordinary cases, God does what Fr. Most about extraordinary graces, making sure that even these corrupt souls repent at the end, but it’s not His ordinary Providence.

      But then again, Saint Faustina talked about souls who consciously chose Hell, they didn’t slip into Hell “by accident”.

      Maybe the promises attached to those devotions imply that God will allow this last extreme Grace before actual death, so that these souls will decide if they want to be the Good thief or the Bad thief.

      I think this is reasonable.

  2. Marco says:

    Let me quote your own words

    “Some souls are chosen by God to receive salvation, without the possibility of going to Hell. I don’t see how this is unjust. Yes, God does favor some souls, but for particular reasons, and the reasons make the favor fair.”

    For example, this can be accomplished with special graces if the soul is particularly obdurate. Not to mention that, as i have shown here , God gives one “extreme grace” to many sinners at the last hour, so that they don’t “slip” into Hell without even noticing, and they can choose to be either the good thief or the bad thief.

    Saint Faustina mentioned the importance of that Grace for the salvation of many sinners which otherwise would have been lost.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Some human persons committed no sins their entire lives (Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist), but this is only possible with special grace from God. This is not a case of “particularly obdurate” souls.

    • Marco says:


      Fr. Most was talking about obdurate souls when he wrote

      “God sends a grace, but the man resists
      it or has made himself blind, by much sinning, so he does not even
      perceive the good thought of what God wills and which grace tries
      to make clear in his mind. Such a thought is needed to start the
      process, but, according to 2 Cor 3:5: “We are not sufficient to
      think anything of ourselves, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency
      is from God. In the ordinary mode, God would simply permit that resistance
      to have its effect, but in the extraordinary mode, He forestalls
      resistance or cancels it out.”

  3. Grindall says:

    Is it moral to approve pain medication that also hastens death when one has a terminal disease with great suffering and is in the very last stage, meaning death is expected within days, or possibly even hours?

    • Ron Conte says:

      1. Intention — the intention can only be to relieve suffering, or any other good intention. The hastening of death cannot be intended, as that would be a bad intended end, making the act a sin.
      2. Object — if the pain medication by type or dose would cause death, rather than merely hasten it, the act would be intrinsically evil.
      3. Circumstances — the benefit of relieving pain must morally outweigh the shortening of life. An extensive shortening of life would not be justified by a small amount of pain relief.

    • Tom Mazanec says:

      I read of a sufferer from cluster headaches who threatened to commit suicide if the doctor did not prescribe a dangerous experimental treatment for him. What moral course would the doctor be required to take in this case?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The physician cannot morally prescribe a treatment if it will do more harm than good. The threat of suicide does not cause the physician to be morally bound to obey the patient. Otherwise, we would end up with a society where anyone could obtain whatever they want by threat. It would do harm beyond the immediate situation, because it would encourage others to make the same threat to get what they want. So he must say no, unless the treatment were the correct course of action all on its own.

  4. What will happen with Syria and the world now after the Trumph’s attack announcement?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t know. Eventually, we will see war between the Arab/Muslim nations of the middle east and northern africa versus the U.S. and Europe. I’m not sure what role the Syria conflict plays. I think ISIS eventually takes control of Syria.

  5. Francisco says:

    This is a question that some fellow Protestant brothers ask, I would like to know your theological answer: How do Mary and the Saints know our thoughts and prayers from everyone on earth all at once? – they are not God all knowing.

    • Ron Conte says:

      All the blessed in heaven participate in the eternity (the timelessness) of God, which allows them to hear and respond to prayers from many persons all at once. And they all have the beatific vision of God, which allows them to know everything and anything that a finite mind can know, though not all in one act, as God knows.

      The knowledge of God is infinite and timeless and immediate. In God, knowledge is the same as existence, is the same as love, is the same as anything that correctly describes His one nature. The act of God knowing all things is the same as the act of God existing. God is one perfect infinite eternal divine act.

  6. Matt says:

    Do you think that Apostle John was spared being martyred, by God’s providence, as opposed to all the other Apostles, by being there during Jesus’ crucifixion?

    In Acts 1:18-19, it states Judas bought a field and then fell and died. Matthew 27:3–10 says that Judas returned the money to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself. Which one is correct and is this a contradiction?

    • Ron Conte says:

      John the Evangelist was almost martyred. The emperor Domitian had him dropped in a large vat of boiling oil, but he came out refreshed, as if from a warm bath. So the emperor had him exiled to Patmos (an island with copper mines worked by Christians enslaved by Domitian). There, on Patmos, he had the vision that led him to write the Book of Revelation. So it was by a miracle and also providence that John was spared martyrdom. I do not think the reason for his being spared was that he was at the foot of the Cross. Rather, I think his being spared has a prophetic meaning for the Church. During the worst part of the tribulation, in the distant future, some portion of the Church will be spared the worse of the sufferings, will be spared martyrdom, just as John was.

      {1:18} And this man certainly possessed an estate from the wages of iniquity, and so, having been hanged, he burst open in the middle and all his internal organs poured out.
      {1:19} And this became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that this field was called in their language, Akeldama, that is, ‘Field of Blood.’

      He “possessed an estate from the wages of iniquity” in the sense that the money which he received for betraying Christ was used, after it was returned, to buy a field for use as a cemetery (one for those who could not be buried in a Jewish cemetery, including persons who committed suicide). Judas was hanged at the start of the Passover. The Jews were forbidden from touching a dead body during any holy time, so his body hung there for all of Passover, until the body, having decomposed, burst open and its entrails spilled out, just as Acts says.

  7. Tom Mazanec says:

    If a person in a state of mortal sin says a prayer for his mother in Purgatory, does that mother benefit from it?

  8. Francisco says:

    Continuing with the intercession of the Saints, what about the Holy Souls in Purgatory? If we can ask them for intercession, how can they know our thoughtful prayers since they don’t have the Beatific Vision (yet)?

    A) Do they somehow know our thoughtful prayers while still in Purgatory? Or

    B) Do they know them once they enter Heaven; however, since Heaven is timeless, it would seem to us here on earth as if they know our prayers while still in Purgatory?

    • Ron Conte says:

      They only know what God permits them to know. His grace gives them knowledge. So they would only be aware of our prayers in some cases. In other cases, they would benefit without knowing who the intercessor may be. Yes to “A” and No to “B”.

  9. Anonymous says:

    CCC 2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.

    Is it intrinsically evil to refuse to vote, defend one’s country, or cheat on your incomes tax return? If a person cheats on taxes as a way to get back at the government under CCC 2242 to not follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order. As you know our taxes are used for abortions and contraceptives.

    • Ron Conte says:

      There is a general responsibility to act for the common good, out of love of neighbor. However, the means to fulfill this positive precept is left to the prudential judgment of the individual (as VS 52 states). So there may be cases where the individual morally chooses not to vote, not to join the military, or not to pay taxes. In the U.S., at the present time, I think it would be immoral to cheat on taxes or refuse to pay taxes. The fact that some money goes to immoral purposes is remote material cooperation, so we are not morally bound to refuse to pay. I don’t think cheating on taxes or refusing to pay is a moral option.

  10. Matt Z. says:

    Whats your view on the salvation of Judas the betrayer. Some say that Judas probably went to hell since he wasnt, like Peter, sorry for his sins, and fell into despair. I have recently heard some say that Judas is in heaven.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich had a vision of Judas Iscariot in Hell. My understanding is that he repented of betraying Christ (when he gave back the money, and admitted his sin). But subsequently he despaired of the mercy of God, and committed suicide, so he went to Hell.

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