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Admonishing the sinner: a spiritual work of mercy

“I ask you not to remain silent when you meet with wrongdoing, but to speak out and act to correct a situation that is offensive to your God and destructive to your soul.” - Our Lady of the Roses, November 20, 1979


In the words of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Creator: "If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother" (Matthew 18:15). “To admonish the sinner” is listed first among the chief spiritual works of mercy. As explained by the catechism book, My Catholic Faith: 

“To admonish the sinner. – Whenever we think our words may have a good effect, we should not hesitate to admonish the erring prudently. Those in authority, such as parents and teachers, are bound to admonish those under them of their faults, even if in doing so they bring trouble upon themselves.”[1]

We know from the story of Samuel in the Old Testament that a hesitation to admonish those we love existed in the priest, Heli (1 Kings 2:22-36).  Because he hesitated to correct the inappropriate and even blasphemous offenses of his sons, he brought disaster not only upon himself but upon his two sons and his house as well (1 Kings 4:1-18).  Jesus warns us about the sin of omission, what we fail to do:  “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me” (Matthew 25:45).  Among the ways we can be accessory to another person’s sin is through command, counsel, consent, praise, provocation, silence, assistance, defense of the evil done, and not punishing the evildoer.  Being silent when it is our duty to speak out is a sin. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that everyone “is bound to give the admonition when the sin, committed though it be from ignorance, is hurtful to the offender or a third party or is the occasion of scandal.”[2]  St. Augustine writes,  

“Medicinal rebuke must be applied to all who sin, lest they should either themselves perish, or be the ruin of others… Let no one, therefore, say that a man must not be rebuked when he deviates from the right way, or that his return and perseverance must only be asked from the Lord for him.”  

The heresy of antinomianism

Today, unfortunately, the Ten Commandments have been replaced with what Alan Wolfe refers to as America’s Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not judge. William Bennett notes that “if they will not judge, they can be rightly suspected of being without convictions.”[3] 

Scripture is frequently misinterpreted for selfish ends. For example, God's mercy and forgiveness is often emphasized by some to mean that God will not punish. As William Bennett observes, "The attempt to use God's forgiveness as a pretext to excuse moral wrong is a dangerous (and old) heresy known as antinomianism--literally 'against the law.'"

Those without convictions proclaim a mistaken notion of tolerance: 

“But ‘tolerance’ can be a genuinely harmful force when it becomes a euphemism for moral exhaustion and a rigid or indifferent neutrality in response to every great moral issue—when, in G.K. Chesterton’s phrase, it becomes the virtue of people who do not believe in anything.”[4]  

Withholding charitable correction when called to do so is plainly against Jesus’ teaching, and against the love of neighbor. St. Thomas writes, “The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth.” Fraternal correction is a loving act, because it seeks to help our brothers and sisters attain their greatest good and happiness, God in Heaven. 

Our Lady of the Roses precisely echoes the Church’s teaching in Her message: 

“I ask you not to remain silent when you meet with wrongdoing, but to speak out and act to correct a situation that is offensive to your God and destructive to your soul.” (Our Lady, November 20, 1979)

Fraternal correction in the Bible 

Here is what the Bible says, and Jesus says, about fraternal correction:

"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him” (Leviticus 19:17).   

“He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

Jesus - “If thy brother sin against thee, reprove him: and if he do penance, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).   

“Them that sin reprove before all: that the rest also may have fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).

“Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). 

“Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

It is a grace from God to be corrected, a grace that should be thankfully and humbly accepted the moment it is offered to us. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsels" (Proverbs 12:15). 

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)  All of us have fallen short of the glory of God; we should therefore expect to receive correction. Though a king, David accepted correction through the prophet Nathan (2 Kings 12:1-14), as well as accepting the rebuke of Semei (2 Kings 16:5-12).  As the Bible says, “Seek counsel always of a wise man” (Tobias 4:19).  We should accept good counsel when it is given to us.  

Those who will not accept correction 

Avoiding responsibility for personal sin goes all the way back to Adam and Eve.  When questioned by God, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent—no record of either one willingly accepting responsibility for the offense.  Herbert Schlossberg writes, “… anyone with a hierarchy of values has placed something at its apex, and whatever that is is the god he serves.”[5]  Those who will not accept the Commandments or will not accept fraternal correction when they are wrong have set up themselves at this apex. Schlossberg also explains,  “Humanists decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong without any external entity to instruct them.”[6]  

The Bible makes it very clear what God thinks of those who reject the truth, or who denies that he is a sinner:  “He who saith that he knoweth Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) The Bible also says, “A fool receiveth not the words of prudence” (Proverbs 18:12).  At the preaching of St. Stephen, his hearers “stopped their ears and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him.” (Acts 7:56-57).  At the preaching of St. John the Baptist, the adulterous Herodias asked that he be put to death (Mark 6:24-28).  At the preaching of Jesus, the Pharisees “were filled with anger” (Luke 4:28) and enviously put Jesus to death. Upon being exposed by Susanna, the wicked priests bore false witness against her (Daniel 13).  Clearly, these are those who did not have a love for the truth (2 Thess. 2:10).  Scott Peck writes:  

“… to a greater or lesser degree, all mentally healthy individuals submit themselves to the demands of their own conscience. Not so the evil, however. In the conflict between their guilt and their will, it is the guilt that must go and the will that must win.”[7]

Dr. Peck also says: 

“A predominant characteristic, however, of the behavior of those I call evil is scapegoating. Because in their hearts they consider themselves above reproach, they must lash out at anyone who does reproach them. They sacrifice others to preserve their self-image of perfection.”[8]

According to Frederick Von Gagern: 

“The rebellious spirit of Anti-Christ, abroad today, with its audacious assumption of man as an autonomous being is at once infectious and seductive. Lucifer’s non serviam (I will not serve) removes man from his subordination to God, tears up his roots and destroys his sense of security. In his state of self-glorification he refuses to recognize his weakness and, full of pride and vanity, puts on some mask or other, such as ‘I am a decent man.’ It is a strange experience to be confronted by a man whom even the blind could see to be in sore need of help, who is immovably convinced that he is so completely ‘right’ as to need no change of any kind.”[9] 

The Charitable Anathema 

In the words of Dietrich von Hildebrand, who Pope Pius XII referred to as 20th Century Doctor of the Church, “One cannot make peace at the cost of truth, and especially not at the cost of divine truth. This would imply an offense of God.”[10]  St. Paul tells the brethren that they are not to be in the company of fornicators (1 Cor. 5:9) and to avoid a heretic after a second admonition: “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment” (Titus 3:11).  St. John says not to greet heretics (2 John 10-11).  The mistaken attitude that charity can only be “nice” without at times being firm shows a profound ignorance of fallen human nature. In the words of Robert Bork:  “The idea that men are naturally rational, moral creatures without the need for strong external restraints has been exploded by experience.”[11]  

In the case of obstinate heretics and sinners, who will not return to obedience to Jesus Christ and His Church (especially those who are scandalizing or seducing others), a much more severe admonition is called for, the anathema: 

“The anathema excludes the one who professes heresies from the communion of the Church, if he does not retract his errors. But for precisely this reason it is an act of the greatest charity toward all the faithful, comparable to preventing a dangerous disease from infecting innumerable people. By isolating the bearer of infection, we protect the bodily health of others; by the anathema, we protect their spiritual health.”[12]

“Judge not” taken out of context 

Jesus’ words “judge not” are frequently taken out of context, and the following verses are conveniently omitted. Scott Peck writes:  

“The sentence ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ is usually quoted out of context. Christ did not enjoin us to refrain from ever judging. What he went on to say in the next four verses is that we should judge ourselves before we judge others--not that we shouldn’t judge at all. ‘Thou hypocrite,’ he said, ‘first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to case out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’ (Mt. 7:5) Recognizing the potential for evil in moral judgments, he instructed us not to always avoid making them but to purify ourselves before doing so.”[13] 

Dietrich von Hildebrand explains that the spirit of Christian peace calls us to fight for the kingdom of God:

“… mindful of the words of Our Lord, “I came not to send peace, but the sword” (Matt. 10:34), we should be warriors of Christ. The holy Church on earth is called ecclesia militaris (“the Church militant”). We cannot at the same time hunger and thirst after justice—an inherent basic attitude of the true Christian—and be at universal peace with the doers of evil and the unjust. The meek St. John the Evangelist goes so far as to advise the faithful against greeting heretics (2 John 10-11).”[14]   

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, speaking at the Institute on Religious Life on April 10, 1999, warned the faithful to be “careful that words like ‘caution’ and ‘prudence’ are not simply used as an excuse for inaction, inability, sloth, or cowardice which prevents us from sharing a truth with others.”

Our Lady of the Roses assures us that we are not judging when we are charitable towards our neighbor and interested in their true good: 

"... when a priest tells you that you do not have to speak up ... because you are judging another person, and you should love your neighbor, and therefore never set him up to be judged, you are not judging. If a person is doing wrong, and you tell him in a kind manner, a charitable manner, that they are committing a sin, and that they will lose their soul and go to purgatory, or even hell, that is not judging. You are helping and loving your neighbor. What is love?" - Our Lady of the Roses, June 18, 1982


Our Lady of the Roses Bayside messages
These messages came from Jesus, Mary, and the saints to Veronica Lueken at Bayside, NY, from 1968 to 1995.

"In charity, you will counsel, but you must also, My child, admonish the wrongdoer." - Our Lady, April 9, 1977

“I see, My children, a great evil transpiring upon earth. Those who have the power to stop the evil have chosen to go downstream like ducks upon water, letting everything slide off their backs, neither caring nor visualizing the future. And why?  Because they have given themselves to the world.
     “Just as My Son stood before Pilate and he washed his hands and said: ‘This man is innocent; I see no wrong in him,’ however, in his heart he knew of innocence but he feared reprisal from the crowd, My children; he valued his life, he loved his sin, and he was too much involved with the pleasures of this life and the world.
     “You see, My children, it is taking place all over again for those in command in rule. They go along ‘passing,’ as you say, ‘the buck,’ each one not willing to admit his error or his participation in evil, but only too willingly allowing others to take the blame or the responsibility. And I assure you, My children, if evil is being allowed, the ‘buck passer’ is just as guilty as the original one who had started the evil. 
     “If you know in your hearts, O pastors, that souls are in danger of being corrupted, misled, and even destroyed, and you do nothing about it, because you do not wish to offend your superiors, because you value your life in this world too much and your good living; I assure you, O pastors, you shall stand before My Son and He shall not know you. You will be disowned, banished from eternal life in Heaven, and you shall join your father who is the father of all liars, satan, and the prince of darkness.” - Our Lady, March 18, 1977 

“The sin of omission shall condemn many to hell, be they layman or hierarchy. I repeat: not the sin of commission, but the sin of omission will commit many to hell. Among them there will also be mitres.” - Our Lady, October 6, 1980

“My child, is it necessary for Me to repeat My words? Have I not reached the world with an essence of the truth? The truth lies in every man's heart, for every man has been given an inbuilt conscience from the Father. However, of your own will can you shut off your contact with your Father, for you give yourself to the world.” - Our Lady, February 1, 1974 

“You will always remember, My child and My children, that when the struggle to remain on the narrow path has 'taken all out of you,' as you say, you must remember that eventually you will all be held accountable for your soul. There is not one person who can follow you at the same time over the veil and stand up for you when you are being judged. For every man, woman, and child of conscionable age will be their own master towards their soul. In other words, My children, you must have your God-given conscience forward and placed before you always.” - Jesus, March 18, 1983 

“You must realize, My children, that he who does not recognize My Son as his Savior shall not be given the keys to the Kingdom. My Son has given you all in the Father an inborn conscience and guide. You will not be misled by satan or his agents or by his enticements if you do not throw away the graces that have been given to you. Your souls will only become tarnished if you fall from this grace or cast it willfully away. Then you will become blind, My children. All of you can become blind where you will no longer recognize truth.” - Our Lady, March 25, 1972 

“There is no other recourse, My children. You have all been given an inborn conscience. You must reject the plan of satan and not succumb to his lures. The world about you has become the playground of satan and his agents. Your world is in darkness; Our Church is in darkness. But We still carry the light. And all who follow Me, My children, will be led out of this darkness.” - Our Lady, April 1, 1972 

“The greatest sin that man has on his weakening conscience is a sin against the Holy Spirit. And this is being committed not only in lay life but in the ranks of My clergy.” - Jesus, May 13, 1978 

“You cannot in your human nature understand the plan of your God, your Creator, but you can with your inborn conscience know in your hearts that you have misled, O bishops and cardinals, Our sheep! Turn back, I say unto you, for you shall be punished.” - Jesus, May 20, 1978 


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April 09, 2018