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Sabine Jeudy wrote:

Hi, guys —

  1. If we are allowed to drink, why is being drunk a sin, especially if I don't do any sinful acts while being drunk, besides the being intoxicated part?

  2. Is going to Atlantic City or Las Vegas sinning?

  3. Can I party with my friends and not be considered a sinner?

  4. I have dirty thoughts. How does God feel about that?
    I feel like I cant control them.

  5. I try to be a good Catholic, but I find myself slipping up often or weighing the consequences when I know I am about to sin. Do you think this puts me at the top of the "going to Hell" list?

  6. I have a huge fear of Hell and am worried about going there when I die. I feel like fear is the driving force in keeping myself from sinning. Is that normal?

  7. How does God feel that the main reason I try to be a better person is the fear of Hell option?

Sabine

  { Can you answer some questions on drinking, Atlantic City, Las Vegas and the fear of Hell? }

Mike replied:

Hi Sabine,

Thanks for the questions.

You said:

  1. If we are allowed to drink, why is being drunk a sin, especially if I don't do any sinful acts while being drunk, besides the being intoxicated part?
  • If you are drunk and don't have all your facilities, how do you know you are not doing anything sinful?

I think the key here is temperance and moderation. The Catechism tell us:

1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will's mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart." (Sirach 5:2; cf. 37:27-31.) Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites." (Sirach 18:30) In the New Testament it is called "moderation" or "sobriety." We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world." (Titus 2:12)

"To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence)."

St. Augustine, De moribus eccl. 1,25,46:PL 32,1330-1331.

You said:

  1. Is going to Atlantic City or Las Vegas sinning?

It depends on what you do when you get there. If you knowingly go to places that are occasions of sin, you will be opening yourself up to sinning and will be culpable for this.

You said:

  1. Can I party with my friends and not be considered a sinner?

This posting may help address your question:

You said:

  1. I have dirty thoughts. How does God feel about that?
    I feel like I cant control them.

First, I suggest you read our FAQ section, under Lust, sins of the flesh, concupiscence and similar issues related to illnesses. We have addressed many issues in this area.

Having dirty thoughts and acting on them are two different things. When you have dirty thoughts, that bastard satan is trying to make you act on them. The thoughts themselves are just a temptation. When we act on them or open ourselves up to more dirty thoughts, it goes against the Christian nature we received at Baptism, where we became Temples of God. If you feel like you can't control these feelings, be sure that you are not putting yourself into situations of temptation.

If you aren't, just do your best. The Lord understands all our struggles; remember he was a man like us in all things but sin. Just go to Confession and make a new start. Make sure you mention all the problems you are struggling with to you Confessor, the priest. A doctor can't heal a broken leg, if you don't tell the doctor, "Hey Doc, I broke my leg!" When we go to Confession the priest is the doctor of Calvary, Jesus, Himself.

You said:

  1. I try to be a good Catholic, but I find myself slipping up often or weighing the consequences when I know I am about to sin. Do you think this puts me at the top of the "going to Hell" list?

No, this just tells me you are human like all of us. Just go to Confession on Saturday and Mass on Sunday and do the best you can for the coming week. Again, Our Lord was a man like us in all things but sin, so he understands the temptations and struggles you go through.

You said:

  1. I have a huge fear of Hell and am worried about going there when I die. I feel like fear is the driving force in keeping myself from sinning. Is that normal?

  2. How does God feel that the main reason I try to be a better person is the fear of Hell option?

There is a difference between holy fear and an unholy fear.

Talking about the effects of Confirmation, St. Ambrose in De myst. 7,42:PL 16,402-403. says:

Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God's presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts. CCC 1303

So St. Ambrose is, in a sense, affirming that a holy fear is normal; it's kind of built into you at Confirmation for your own good.

An unholy fear is based on an over scrupulosity of ones sins and a lack of trust the Lord's Divine Providence.

For those who think they may be struggling with unholy fear, remember, Our Lord Jesus, wants the best for you. Yes, it's hard to achieve, especially in this sex-saturated culture, but trust in Him and do your best.

Finally, remember, you were made for a specific purpose and mission in life by the Lord Himself.
Through prayer we can find that purpose.

Hope this helps,

Mike

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