Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Grace on a Desert Island

The inimitable Elliot Milco has written a high school theology class quiz which makes you think he's the teacher you wish you had (though, of course, when I was in high school the referenced movie hadn't come out yet, so oh well.)
1. Tom Hanks is stranded alone on a desert island with only a volleyball to keep him company. He knows that as a member of the Church, missing Sunday mass counts as "grave matter" for a mortal sin. He wants to go to mass, but when Sunday comes around, he doesn't go. Has he committed a mortal sin? Briefly defend your answer. (3 points)

2. Several months later, Tom Hanks is still stuck on the island. A storm comes and washes away his beloved volleyball, Wilson. After weeping over the loss of his best friend, Tom Hanks raises his eyes to heaven and curses God. Despite all appearances to the contrary, he is in full possession of his mental faculties, and knows what he is doing. What kind of sin has he committed? Briefly defend your answer. (3 points)

3. A few more months pass, and Tom Hanks begins to feel bad for what he has done. He realizes that he may die on the island, and doesn't want to end up in hell, because from what he has heard hell sounds pretty unappealing. He wishes he could go to confession, but since he's alone on the island, he can't. He prays for forgiveness, but his desire to renew his relationship with God isn't based on Love, just a concern about his own soul. What kind of contrition does Tom Hanks have? Briefly defend your answer. (3 points)

4. After being rescued from the island, Tom Hanks encounters a Deacon on board the ship that saves him. Can the deacon perform the sacrament of confession if Tom Hanks asks him? Explain.
(2 points)

5. After getting back home, Tom Hanks is exhausted and just wants to be left alone. Sunday comes around and he really just doesn't feel like going to mass. He knows he should, and is completely capable of making it to a church, but decides sleeping in is more important. Compare this with the situation in question 1. What kind of sin is Tom Hanks guilty of? Explain. (3 points)

6. After regretting missing mass, Tom Hanks finds a priest and goes to confession again, just in case the confession to the deacon wasn't valid. But he only has imperfect contrition! Is that good enough for his confession to count? (2 points)

7. During his confession, Tom Hanks remembers the time on the island when he cursed God, but he is too ashamed of this sin to tell the priest, and so he leaves it out and just confesses missing mass. Has Tom Hanks met the requirements for a valid confession? Explain. (2 points)

8. During his confession, the Priest reminds him that the reason Catholics are required to go to Sunday mass is that it draws us closer to God and helps us receive divine life, which makes us better people and more open to the knowledge and love of God. What special kind of grace do we receive at Mass that makes us more capable of knowing and loving God? Why is this grace so important? (2 points)

9. After leaving confession, Tom Hanks thinks about what the priest said, and he realizes that he’s been thinking about his spiritual life incorrectly. Instead of seeing the Church as an imposing rule-maker that forces people to feel guilty all the time, he starts to understand that the commandments and obligations that come with Catholic life are guidelines to help us draw closer to God. In a moment of conversion, he is filled with a profound love of God above all things, and becomes very clearly aware of his faults. He goes back to the priest to make a full confession. What kind of contrition does Tom Hanks have? (2 points)


Adam Burch said...

So for the poorly educated among us, can we get an answer key?

Very cool quiz!

Elliot M. said...

Answer Key:

1. He has not committed a mortal sin, because he isn't able to go to mass, and therefore isn't deliberately breaking the third commandment.

2. He has committed a mortal sin. He has deliberately broken the second commandment, with full knowledge of what he was doing. His seen meets all three qualifications for mortal sin: grave matter, knowledge and consent.

3. He has imperfect contrition. He is sorry because of the fear of hell, and not out of charity.

4. Deacons cannot absolve, so while he could confess to the deacon, it wouldn't be a sacrament.

5. He has committed a mortal sin, because unlike in question (1), here he is fully able to meet his sunday obligation and deliberately chooses not to.

6. Yes, imperfect contrition is enough for the sacrament of confession.

7. No, he has not. By deliberately withholding a mortal sin that he was aware of, he is approaching the sacrament dishonestly, which is a sin and invalidates his confession.

8. At mass (and in all the sacraments) we receive Sanctifying Grace, which is important because it gives us faith hope and charity, and draws us closer to God, ultimately to union with him in heaven.

9. He has perfect contrition.

Enbrethiliel said...


Nice parallel plotting--with a great ending, too!