Not every kind of ignorance is the cause of sin, but that alone which removes the knowledge which would prevent the sinful act…This may happen on the part of the ignorance itself, because, to wit, this ignorance is voluntary, either directly, as when a man wishes of set purpose to be ignorant of certain things that he may sin the more freely; or indirectly, as when a man, through stress of work or other occupations, neglects to acquire the knowledge which would restrain him from sin. For such like negligence renders the ignorance itself voluntary and sinful, provided it be about matters one is bound and able to know (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 76, a.1, a.3).
Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture, became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience. Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to Him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it. Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of Hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However, venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.”
- While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light:” if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, Confession.
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept His mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
For whomever does not know, has forgotten, willingly or unwillingly; or just plain does not presently care, mortal sin is:
- a sin of grave matter;
- committed with full knowledge;
- committed with deliberate consent.
1) Saint Paul on what mortal sins are:
“Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-20). Paul also tells the Corinthians, “know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liars with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor railers, nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).
2) Sins of anger, blasphemy, envy, hatred, malice, murder, neglect of Sunday obligation, sins against faith, sins against hope, and sins against love.
3) Voluntary murder (Gen 4:10); the sin of impurity, i.e., sodomy and homosexual relations (Gen 18:20); taking advantage of the poor (Ex 2:23); and defrauding the workingman of his wages (James 5:4).
4) Pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
The question was asked, “Is Hell reserved only for Satan?” The answer is in the negative. Hell is a place of pain and punishment for infinity that has been reserved not only for Satan and his demons, but also for all those of us who die in unrepented of and unabsolved mortal sin – that is why the latter is called “mortal.” You can learn more about mortal sin here and here, as well as about Hell here. You can also read about being in mortal sin and the great mercy, tenderness and love of God our Father.
In brief, when one has a mortal sin or sins on their soul, they may, to all intents and purposes, be alive in the flesh, but they are dead in the spirit. In other words, they are walking sepulchres. However, when one dies with even just a single mortal sin on the soul, they condemn themselves instantly to Hell, not Purgatory, because since the Holy Trinity is pure and immaculate, They cannot reside in and where the darkness of sin resides in full.
It has become fashionable, especially in this day and age, to speak as little as possible or not speak at all about sin. But sin is a daily reality in the life of each human being, regardless of whether they believe or not. It is true that when subjected with genuineness of heart to the cleansing action of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, sin on our souls is washed away; remitted. But it is equally true, albeit very unfashionable to say bluntly, that sin which remains not repented of purchases for us nothing but justice, suffering and death.
He will crush your heart, to be able to love His people as He desires them to be loved. Indeed, as He loved them Himself. For without a heart that has been crushed, it remains closed or insufficiently open and His people cannot enter. They cannot be held with tenderness and joy, especially those most in need of His love: those who continue to reject Him, insult Him and blaspheme Him. (more…)
“The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service” (2 Tim 4:3-5).
Suffering is the result of sin, yet we blame everything and everyone for suffering except the true culprits: ourselves. Most often we comply with Satan’s will instead of God’s Will, either by default or by deliberation. Then we complain, curse and even blaspheme when we suffer as a result, displacing blame from its true locus: ourselves. Others also suffer as a result of sin, albeit in reparation (more…)
The question was asked, “What is sin?” The short answer is simple, though complicated for and by some due to their emphases on rationalization and subjectivity. Sin is anything that violates the commandments of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27).
The Apostolate of the Divine Heart announces the publication of its latest book titled The Divine Family: Experiential Narratives. The book is available directly from the publisher and the online bookseller Amazon. For those outside the US, you can obtain the book either from the respective Amazon sites or directly from the distributors.
In The Divine Family: Experiential Narratives, the lived experiences of the author with the Members of the Divine Family and others are presented openly in print for the first time. These experiences occurred from 2010 through 2012. Written predominantly in a dialogical narrative style suitable for believers and non-believers alike, the author chronicles first-hand some of her personal experiences with the archangels Michael and Raphael; demons and Satan, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. (more…)
FOR HIS GLORY
The Illumination of Conscience and the Father of Mercies
You came that weekday afternoon with Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, after You decided to grant me the illumination of conscience a few days after I completed the octave of purification and consecration to You. Never did I expect anything to happen when I decided a week earlier, on a whim, to do the latter; especially as I made it a point of making a general confession before starting the octave. But You had other plans.
Without prior warning as I was sitting quietly reading that afternoon, You suddenly appeared a couple of feet above me together with Your Son, to Your right; while Your Spirit showed me with immutable clarity, (more…)