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(Lat. praesumere, "to take before", "to take for granted").
Presumption is here considered as a vice opposed to the theological virtue of hope. It may also be regarded as a product of pride. It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God's mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them. Presumption is said to offend against hope by excess, as despair by defect. It will be obvious, however, to one who ponders what is meant by hope, that this statement is not exact. There is only a certain analogy which justifies it. As a matter of fact we could not hope too much, assuming that it is really the supernatural habit which is in question.
Suarez ("De spe", disp. 2a, sect. 3, n. 2) enumerates five ways in which one may be guilty of presumption, as follows:
The root-malice of presumption is that it denies the supernatural order, as in the first instance, or travesties the conception of the Divine attributes, as in the others. Theologians draw a sharp distinction between the attitude of one who goes on in a vicious career, precisely because he counts upon pardon, and one whose persistence in wrongdoing is accompanied, but not motivated, by the hope of forgiveness. The first they impeach as presumption of a very heinous kind; the other is not such specifically. In practice it happens for the most part that the expectation of ultimate reconciliation with God is not the cause, but only the occasion, of a person's continuing in sinful indulgence. Thus the particular guilt of presumption is not contracted.
SLATER, Manual of Moral Theology (New York, 1908); RICKABY, Moral Teaching of St. Thomas (London, 1896); ST. THOMAS, Summa (Turin, 1885); BALLERINI, Opus Theol. Morale (Prato, 1899).
JOSEPH F. DELANY