Author Topic: Any saints who were seriously evil and depraved before their conversion?  (Read 705 times)

Offline MaximGun

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Exception proves the rule.  How many Nathansons are there?

Not many.  They're extremely rare.

What would be the point of making the effort to remain in a state of grace and go to the sacraments regularly if God was liberally dishing out the graces for abortionists and sodomites to repent?

Why God picks those particular people to save, God only knows.  But He certainly does not make a habit of it.
 

Offline Maximilian

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All the evidence suggests that Dr. Bernard Nathanson died in a state of grace. 

He was an abortionist who personally killed thousands of babies, oversaw the murders of tens of thousands more, and, as a founder of NARAL, contributed to the deaths of millions beyond that.

He came to understand the evil that he had done and became active in the Prolife movement.  Eventually he was baptized as a Catholic and remained a Catholic in good standing up to the time of his death.

The example of Bernard Nathanson is certainly a good one to demonstrate that even the very worst sinners can receive a miraculous conversion.

There is nothing in Catholic teaching about crossing a line beyond the reach of God's grace.  That just somebody's personal opinion which we are free to ignore.  And so we should.

There is, of course, Jesus' teaching about the "Sin against the Holy Ghost." Admittedly, there's never been any consensus about exactly what the "Sin against the Holy Ghost" consists of. So it's not clear exactly where that line lies. But there is a line somewhere. It's not just someone's personal opinion that there exists a line that we are not free to cross.

Anyone who said that our sins are too great to be forgiven and told us to give up on salvation would be guilty of counselling despair, itself a serious sin.

Yes, it's wrong to counsel despair, but it's not wrong to warn people to avoid crossing a line from which they may not be able to return. St. Alphonsus Ligouri does that repeatedly. He is not "counselling despair." But the Doctor of the Church did warn people that God's mercy only extends so far. No one knows for certain how far that is in individual cases, but we all should be aware that we are in danger of presuming on God's mercy.

Between despair and presumption, both can be fatal traps. Which one catches more souls? It's not something we are able to quantify, but if you look at the great missionaries like St. Leonard of Port Maurice, they spend a lot more time warning against presumption than against despair.
 
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Offline Jayne

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What would be the point of making the effort to remain in a state of grace and go to the sacraments regularly if God was liberally dishing out the graces for abortionists and sodomites to repent?

Why God picks those particular people to save, God only knows.  But He certainly does not make a habit of it.

God is liberally dishing out graces for everybody.  That is pretty much the definition of grace.  It is a free gift from God that we do not deserve.  Every person on this forum, including you and me, is a sinner who depends on the grace of God for our salvation.  As you have observed, it is more difficult for souls hardened by sin to receive grace, but the issue is on the receiving end, not the giving end.  But even in the cases of the greatest sinners, sometimes God breaks through.

The person who started this thread has indicated elsewhere that he has had a sinful past and seems to be wondering if he can be saved in spite of it. The answer is yes.  The OP has already received the grace to repent and to have the desire to reform his life.  We have every reason to think that God will continue to pour graces on him.

Your views seem especially inappropriate for this situation.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 09:15:18 AM by Jayne »
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Offline queen.saints

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There is nothing in Catholic teaching about crossing a line beyond the reach of God's grace.  That just somebody's personal opinion which we are free to ignore.  And so we should.

There is, of course, Jesus' teaching about the "Sin against the Holy Ghost." Admittedly, there's never been any consensus about exactly what the "Sin against the Holy Ghost" consists of. So it's not clear exactly where that line lies. But there is a line somewhere. It's not just someone's personal opinion that there exists a line that we are not free to cross.

Anyone who said that our sins are too great to be forgiven and told us to give up on salvation would be guilty of counselling despair, itself a serious sin.

Yes, it's wrong to counsel despair, but it's not wrong to warn people to avoid crossing a line from which they may not be able to return. St. Alphonsus Ligouri does that repeatedly. He is not "counselling despair." But the Doctor of the Church did warn people that God's mercy only extends so far. No one knows for certain how far that is in individual cases, but we all should be aware that we are in danger of presuming on God's mercy.

Between despair and presumption, both can be fatal traps. Which one catches more souls? It's not something we are able to quantify, but if you look at the great missionaries like St. Leonard of Port Maurice, they spend a lot more time warning against presumption than against despair.


Yes, exactly, thank you for posting this. Every single sermon on confession I’ve heard recently has stressed these points.

As St. Jerome said, “Territus, terreo”.


(Quote taken from this book: “Hell: heaven’s great missionary” https://www.tedeumpress.com/product/hell-heavens-great-missionary/ 

I would greatly recommend it to the OP, as it addresses his very question in several stories and is actually a very hopeful and helpful book.)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 09:08:31 AM by queen.saints »
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Offline Jayne

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There is, of course, Jesus' teaching about the "Sin against the Holy Ghost." Admittedly, there's never been any consensus about exactly what the "Sin against the Holy Ghost" consists of. So it's not clear exactly where that line lies. But there is a line somewhere. It's not just someone's personal opinion that there exists a line that we are not free to cross.

The more convincing explanations that I have heard about the "Sin against the Holy Ghost" is that it is a kind of sin rather than a degree of sin, so I don't think the image of "crossing a line" expresses that well.  At any rate, it does not seem to have anything to do with what MG was talking about.  The specific sins he mentioned are ones that we know can be forgiven.

Between despair and presumption, both can be fatal traps. Which one catches more souls? It's not something we are able to quantify, but if you look at the great missionaries like St. Leonard of Port Maurice, they spend a lot more time warning against presumption than against despair.

While it is, as you say, hard to quantify which is more fatal in general, some individuals may be more prone to one than the other.  There have been multiple hints that the OP is more susceptible to despair at this time, so I have written my comments accordingly.  I was not writing a sermon for a general audience.
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Offline Maximilian

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He was an abortionist who personally killed thousands of babies, oversaw the murders of tens of thousands more, and, as a founder of NARAL, contributed to the deaths of millions beyond that.

He came to understand the evil that he had done and became active in the Prolife movement.  Eventually he was baptized as a Catholic and remained a Catholic in good standing up to the time of his death.

One thing that is demonstrated by your well-chosen example of Bernard Nathanson is that conversion from great evil demands great reparation. Yes, he committed tremendous evils. And then after his conversion he dedicated himself to repairing the harm he had done. He personally performed thousands of abortions. And then his movie "Silent Scream" certainly prevented thousands of others.

Part of his reparation was his public confession. He didn't just go to confession anonymously and then feel that his salvation was assured. He publicly renounced his former beliefs. He publicly acknowledged his sins and his failings. He publicly committed himself to a course in which he would do the opposite of his former actions.

In his case, his sins had been public, so it was appropriate for him to make public reparation. If someone else commits a sin in their hearts that only they know of, it would not be appropriate to do the same thing.
 
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Offline Jayne

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One thing that is demonstrated by your well-chosen example of Bernard Nathanson is that conversion from great evil demands great reparation.

I think this is true of all the examples given in this thread.  The role of reparation is yet another truth that has been neglected in post-conciliar times which makes it especially worth talking about.
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Offline Heinrich

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A lot to discuss here, but this could be an example of what OP is looking for.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/16/erich-priebke-funeral-cancelled-nazi-italy
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
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Offline queen.saints

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He was an abortionist who personally killed thousands of babies, oversaw the murders of tens of thousands more, and, as a founder of NARAL, contributed to the deaths of millions beyond that.

He came to understand the evil that he had done and became active in the Prolife movement.  Eventually he was baptized as a Catholic and remained a Catholic in good standing up to the time of his death.

One thing that is demonstrated by your well-chosen example of Bernard Nathanson is that conversion from great evil demands great reparation. Yes, he committed tremendous evils. And then after his conversion he dedicated himself to repairing the harm he had done. He personally performed thousands of abortions. And then his movie "Silent Scream" certainly prevented thousands of others.

Part of his reparation was his public confession. He didn't just go to confession anonymously and then feel that his salvation was assured. He publicly renounced his former beliefs. He publicly acknowledged his sins and his failings. He publicly committed himself to a course in which he would do the opposite of his former actions.

In his case, his sins had been public, so it was appropriate for him to make public reparation. If someone else commits a sin in their hearts that only they know of, it would not be appropriate to do the same thing.

https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5118738

Midwife performed thousands of abortions

Wang returned to her home village to make the film, where she met with the midwife, now 84 years old, who had delivered Wang herself.

"I asked her: 'Hey, do you remember how many babies you delivered throughout your career?'" Wang said.

"And she said: 'I don't have the number of deliveries, but I do remember I did 50,000 to 60,000 abortions, and I counted that because I felt guilty.'"

Wang told Tremonti that these forced abortions could happen late because women were trying to hide their pregnancies from officials.

"[The midwife] told me that sometimes a late-term baby would be born alive, and she would have to kill the baby after delivering it," Wang said.

"She told me how her hands would tremble when she did that."

Most people said I don't have a choice, this is my job, this is for the greater good ... they felt that they had no choice whether to allow a baby to be alive or dead.
- Nanfu Wang
Wang's co-director Zhang said that the midwife now feels guilt about what happened, but at the time felt that she was performing her duty.

"She performed … five or six [abortions] a day at least, over 25 years, and nobody really forced her to do that," she said.

Wang said that after a woman had a child, sterilization was a common method to ensure the one-child policy was upheld. There was particular resistance to this in rural areas, where sons were desired to work on the farmland, and eventually inherit it.

If sterilization was refused, Wang said that women were sometimes forced. If they went into hiding she said officials would bulldoze homes and arrest family members until the women came forward.

In Wang's community, those sterilizations fell to the local midwife who she interviewed for the film. But Wang said that after decades of performing these procedures, the midwife couldn't do it any longer.

"Nowadays she exclusively treats infertility disorders," she said.

"She hoped by helping families having babies, she can counteract what she did in the past, and to basically atone her sin."

When Wang visited her, the walls of the midwife's home were adorned with pieces of paper expressing gratitude from people she has helped to conceive, each one showing a picture of a newborn baby.




I think it said in the documentary that she heard that for every 1 baby she helped bring into the world, it would make up for 100 she killed, so she is hoping to have enough before she dies.
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Offline Jayne

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I don't think that Erich Priebke is a good example. He was serving a life sentence for his role in the Ardeatine Massacre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardeatine_massacre.  There do not seem to be any elements of confession and reparation in this story.  On the contrary, he left behind a document defending his actions.

While we can easily see that he committed great evil, there is no apparent basis for claiming any sort of conversion or holiness.  The SSPX was willing to perform a funeral for him, but I don't see that we can conclude much from that.

edit:  I'm not sure if SSPX performed the funeral.  I think the priest who did the funeral had been expelled by the SSPX.  Either way, this example does not seem relevant.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 10:17:23 AM by Jayne »
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Offline Heinrich

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I don't think that Erich Priebke is a good example. He was serving a life sentence for his role in the Ardeatine Massacre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardeatine_massacre.  There do not seem to be any elements of confession and reparation in this story.  On the contrary, he left behind a document defending his actions.

While we can easily see that he committed great evil, there is no apparent basis for claiming any sort of conversion or holiness.  The SSPX was willing to perform a funeral for him, but I don't see that we can conclude much from that.

edit:  I'm not sure if SSPX performed the funeral.  I think the priest who did the funeral had been expelled by the SSPX.  Either way, this example does not seem relevant.

He converted, confessed, make public reparation, and offered his life sentence ad penance.
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
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Offline Jayne

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He converted, confessed, make public reparation, and offered his life sentence ad penance.

I have not been able to find any evidence of this.  Was it in the link you gave?  That did not work for me. 

I have seen videos of him saying that he did nothing wrong and was only following orders.  He admits to his role in the massacre but there was no sign of repentance in his tone or words.  That is not a confession in the Catholic sense.

He lived in Argentina for decades under another name and fought being extradited and eventually imprisoned in Italy.  How is that public reparation? 

edit to add videos:
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 10:53:36 AM by Jayne »
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Offline Jayne

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If he "offered his life sentence as penance"  why was it like this:

Quote
Priebke was extradited to Italy and sentenced to life in prison in 1998.

But he pleaded that he was too old and sick for jail, and he was soon allowed to switch to a regime of house arrest.

And so today he lives on the top floor of an apartment in a quiet street in a neighbourhood not far from the centre of Rome.

He enjoys a roof terrace, lined with geraniums and shaded by vines.

Priebke is permitted to come and go.

With an escort, he has always been allowed to do his shopping, take strolls in the park, or go out to restaurants in the evening to eat with friends.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-23468227

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Offline Xavier

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The surest path to becoming a Saint is to start early and gain merits (store up Treasures in Heaven, as the Lord said, by e.g. frequent Masses, Rosaries, Good Works), avoiding all Mortal Sins etc. This was how Mother Mary did it, and why She is the Greatest Saint in Heaven, along with God's Grace of Her Immaculate Conception etc. But as the other Mary in the Gospel, St. Mary Magdalene, and various other Church Saints throughout History show us, God is Mercy and Love, and sometimes those who lived in sin and later repented become Greater Saints than those who lived lukewarm lives throughout. Let us praise the Goodness of God, which shows us no sinner is beyond redemption, and let us continue on the straight and narrow path, of doing good works to gain eternal life. Amen. By our prayers also, we can help save those who otherwise would be lost, as Our Lady of Fatima taught us.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 11:25:06 AM by Xavier »
"He [His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre]exhorted them:

Quote from: +ABL
Make every effort to have the Mass of St. Pius V, but if it is impossible to find one within forty kilometers and if there is a pious priest who says the New Mass in as traditional a way as possible, it is good for you to assist at it to fulfill your Sunday obligation."

One can counter the dangers for the Faith through solid catechism:

Quote
Should all the world’s churches be emptied? I do not feel brave enough to say such a thing. I don’t want to encourage atheism."

Taken from: https://sspx.org/en/what-archbishop-lefebvre-said-about-new-mass
 

Offline MaximGun

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Quote
She argued that "when you live in China you were not encouraged to make your own life decisions … you were taught what to do."

"Over time one would lose the ability to think for themselves," she said.

If this is objectively true then bad actions would not be sinful, anymore than they would be if you were injected with mind-altering drugs and murdered people.  It would also suggest that the pagans in Central America were even less culpable than the Chinese since they had zero knowledge about the morals of outside cultures.  At least in China they were aware that there were other countries in the world that did not have a government sanctioned forced abortion policy.

There is nothing in the Gospels or the words of Christ that suggests that people lose the ability to think for themselves under oppressive governments.  You might think that was worth mentioning.  On the other hand we have just lived through a 2 year global experiment that proved just what a lot of mindless unthinking dopes there are who will queue up for an experimental injection they did not even need because they virus was no threat to them.  The 20% who resisted that pressure and those mandates, always comment on how shocked they were at how compliant the 80% were.

So the Chinese woman has a fair point.  In a society where everyone around you is pressured into groupthink it is extraordinarily difficult to buck the trend.
 
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