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Q. The other day I hissed Godís name under my breath in a moment of frustration. I understand that there was no forethought in this action and that forethought is required for sin, but does that rule apply to this sin? Iím confused. Please help.

A. Yes, of course it applies to this action. Sin is not something that comes upon you unaware, sneaking up on you, trapping you, and then letting the consequences rain down upon you. Do you think that God is in his heaven looking down on you and playing a “gotcha” game? Sin is deliberate, not accidental. I think people often confuse this because legal penalties can be incurred accidently. “I didn’t see the light turn red, but I ran the light nonetheless and have to pay the fine.” A legal penalty is not the same thing as sin.

Q. Iím tormented by the thought of purgatory and the suffering that awaits me. I read that even St. Faustina had to go to purgatory even though she tried her whole life to be faithful to God. If she had to burn, I can see no escape for me. It terrifies me.

A. No one knows anything about purgatory, and all the stories about purgatory— including the stories about the saints and purgatory—are exactly that: stories. They may be creative, they may be illustrative, they may even be inspirational, but they are stories, not statements of fact based on observable and recordable evidence. Change your reading material and read something that’s more hopeful and helpful instead of disruptive and terrifying. You will be happier.

Published inSA Mailbox