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Anonymous Rob wrote:

Hi, guys —

A few questions if I may.

  • Do we pay for the sins of our fathers or grandfathers?
  • Is there such a thing as too much Catholic radio, T.V. or Apologetics?

The more you listen to various answers from priests and some apologists, the more doubt and confusion is created.

Recently a priest mentioned that if you don't have that feeling of peace after Confession you might have forgotten to confess a mortal sin and he didn't explain this.

  • Why would he say that?

There are too many different opinions from Priests, Catholic show hosts, and Apologists etc.



  { Do we pay for the sins of our fathers and can we ever get too much Catholic T.V. and Apologetics? }

Eric replied:

Rob —

Whether we pay for the sins of our fathers or grandfathers depends on your sense of "pay".

If you mean:

  • Does God punish us for the sins of our fathers or grandfathers?; the answer is <No>.

Scripture specifically addresses this with a discussion of a relevant Hebrew proverb: Ezekiel 18:2-4 (RSV2CE)

2 "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? 3 As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die.

Ezekiel 18:2-4 (RSV2CE)

29 In those days they shall no longer say:

'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.'

30 But every one shall die for his own sin; each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Jeremiah 31:29-30 (RSV2CE)

However, if your father is rich and squanders himself away into penury before you are born or when you are young, then in a sense you do pay for the sins of your father. This is where we get the concept of a "dysfunctional family". The parents or grandparents have a dysfunctional behavior, which has a deleterious effect on their children, much to their consternation. Consider the alcoholic father, or the absent father.

Concerning apologetics, if anything cause you to doubt the faith, unless it is demanded by divine law (like attending liturgy on Sundays and holy days), you should avoid it, and this applies to apologetics programs.

I don't know why that priest would say what he said about Confession; it sounds to me like a very foolish thing to say. Our faith is not based on feelings. Good feelings are not an infallible result of a valid sacrament and it is dangerous to teach otherwise.

We digest such opinions by using prudential judgment and realizing that

  1. one, only a bishop can speak formally on behalf of the Catholic Church, and
  2. two, apologists are fallible human beings like you and I and are subject to error and to missing the mark.

Yes, their answers should be based on sound sources like Scripture, Canon Law (which is not really a doctrinal source), and the Catechism, but it's important to realize that:

  1. one, these resources do not exhaust the faith (there is much more to doctrine than Scripture and the Catechism), and
  2. two, they don't even address every issue that apologists face. I might add that
  3. three, the faith is so rich, so complex, and so broad that no one person can be an expert on it all, so it's not surprising that errors and inconsistencies make it through and
  4. four, there are matters which are matters of opinion and prudential judgment.

    Not everyone is obliged to agree with everyone else.


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