61 – A Christian should boast of his sins

‘For a correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture it is therefore necessary to seek attentively what the hagiographers have truly wished to state and what it has pleased God to express in human words’. This is the wise counsel that Pope Benedict XVI had imparted to the participants of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 2009.

In fact, Greek is a very rich language that requires a demanding work of interpretation, whereby certain passages of Revelation are not easily grasped by amateurs. More importantly, beyond having a profound knowledge of this language, it is assumed that an exegete is also completely submissive to the Holy Spirit, so as not to cast the shadow of his own ideas upon that which is really the Word of God. The Pauline epistles are the best example of this, for which reason the following study was elaborated.


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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

ContentsI – Introductory exegetic clarificationAuthors
I – Introductory exegetic clarification
II – Of what weaknesses did Saint Paul really boast?
III – Sin is not a factor of union with God, but rather of separation
IV – Those who stray from the Lord should repent and receive sacramental absolution

I – Introductory exegetic clarification

 In Chapter 12 of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle repeats the terms ‘boast’ and ‘weakness’ (καυχήσομαι / ἀσθενείαις):

‘I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord’ (2Cor 12:1).

‘About this person I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth’ (2Cor 12:5-6).

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2Cor 12:9-10).

What are these weaknesses? Is it true that they are sins? It seems not, for in other parts of the same Epistle, when he uses the word ‘sin’, he uses other terms: ἁμαρτίαν / προημαρτηκότων.

II – What is meant by the ‘weaknesses’ Saint Paul boasted of?

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Boast of evil? But this is not glory but misery

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Infirmity is the material on which to exercise humility, patience and temperance; and the occasion for fighting unto perfect virtue
Because my virtue is made perfect in infirmity, I will all the more gladly boast of my weakness
Joy in weaknesses: they are the occasion to suffer for Christ and to receive God’s help

Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Paul recognized his own nothingness, and that all must be attributed to the God’s grace
Weakness is the power that holds pride in check

Saint John Chrysostom

Grace is increased in proportion to the intensity of trials: where affliction is, there also consolation; where consolation, there grace
By weaknesses, Saint Paul means also persecutions and trials

Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

We should glory in the knowledge of our insufficiency, that thus we may acquire the virtue of holy humility

Benedict XVI

St. Paul is well aware that he is an earthen vessel in which God places the riches and power of his grace
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We must entrust ourselves to God as fragile earthen vessels, so that He may work miracles through our weakness

Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle
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God’s almighty power shows forth by converting us from our sins

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

By means of infirmity man is acquainted with God’s power

III – Sin is not a factor of union with God, but rather of separation

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sin is love of oneself unto contempt of God – it is diametrically opposed to obedience which achieves salvation
Sin turns our hearts away from God’s love for us

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Even little sins cannot be disregarded: they are like drops of water, which although small, form rivers and drag away boulders
Sins stink foully

Saint Basil the Great

Sin is the use of human faculties against the will of God

John Paul II

Sin is an abuse of the freedom received from God
The Church believes and professes that sin is an offense against God
Sin is aversio a Deo - and consequently choosing death
...and conversio ad creaturam, something contrary to the divine will
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Benedict XVI

Sin ruins man’s relationship with God

Saint Augustine of Hippo

To arrive at a clear understanding of the truth: begin in confession, then let good works follow

IV – Those who Stray from the Lord should Repent and Receive Sacramental Absolution

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To receive God’s mercy we must admit our faults

Saint John Chrysostom

Even more than by sin, God’s wrath is caused by sinning without remorse for having provoked Him
How can we expect forgiveness when we take no account sin first?

Saint Francis de Sales

Why die a spiritual death when is a sovereign remedy is available? – having consented in sin, make haste to seek purification

John Paul II

Through the Sacrament of Confession man renews his friendship with God
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