VENIAL SIN Right Rev. J.S. vaughan (2023)

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VENIAL SIN Right Rev. J.S. vaughan (1)


By the correct Rev. J.S. Vaughan. Bishop of Sebastopolis.

"The Church holds that it would be better if the sun and moon fell from the sky, that the earth itself would collapse, and that all the many millions upon it would starve, in great agony (referring to temporary affliction) that this soul, I will not say that it is lost, but that it is committing a venial sin.

Kardinal Newman herein Anglican Difficulties, p. 199.



BISHOP VAUGHAN's book on venial sin needs only a few words as a foreword. The author is too well known for that

they need no introduction, and the subject is so vital to the life of all Catholics that it demands careful attention and reflection from all. Unfortunately there are some ouch! I fear I should say many who have no true perception of the evil of venial sin. They would view mortal sins with horror and proclaim their determination to avoid them at all costs because they do not wish to seriously offend God, but at the same time they would pay little attention to the lesser offenses against God and His law for which they would offend him undoubtedly, albeit to a lesser extent. Such people would probably be horrified at the thought that they would refuse to serve him even in small things; but the truth is that they underestimate the fact that by committing a willful venial sin they are really denying their proper service to God.

It is to be feared that there are not a few among us who frivolously declare that although they naturally wish to be free from every serious offense against God, they have no special desire to be holy, by which they mean they consider it She sees the avoidance of every minor sin as almost impossible for the common man and as something to be found only in those whom God has called to walk the higher paths of perfection. This conception shows how little these people remember that God called every soul He created to be holy, that is, to be pure and free from the stain of even the smallest blemish in His sight, and that every transgression against his law, a bad one is something to be avoided at all costs.

God, it must never be forgotten, always exerts an attraction on the soul that has made itself. As the magnet attracts iron, so it attracts the Christian soul. Mortal sin, of course, breaks this relationship with God; but venial sin weakens it, as rust on iron tends to partially suppress the power of its attraction. It is not easy, therefore, from a spiritual point of view, to oppose the work of God upon the soul. Moreover, it is true that such petty transgressions against the Almighty themselves tend to escalate if not checked in time. Just as many diseases of the body, which are mild at first, often become serious if not treated promptly, and indeed not infrequently result in death, so the evil of venial sin, if not vigorously treated at first, tends to grow and lead indeed often to these grave, soul-destroying sins.

In fact, no willful venial sin is to be neglected when we have a desire to serve God, even in a small degree. We often forget how God offends even the slightest disobedience. Saint Teresa was once shown the place in hell she would have been had she not changed her life, and as far as it appears there was nothing in her behavior that amounted to a mortal insult to God. So too St. Catherine of Siena fainted at the sight, when she was shown how terrible venial sin was inflicted on the soul in the sight of God. The Scriptures also show us the punishment that follows a willful venial sin. For example, Moses was barred from entering the promised land because he doubted God's providence, and David suffered great trouble for a minor breach of his law.

St. Francis de Sales writes in a very practical way about the need for constant vigilance to avoid these venial offenses. He warns that God is tempted to make a truce with this or that bad habit and that we must make war on our venial sins. 'Aurelius,' he says, 'painted the faces in all the pictures as the women he loved. He who fasts is considered very pious, as long as he fasts, although his heart is filled with anger and he does not dare to wet his tongue with wine or even water for the love of sobriety, he does not hesitate to contaminate it . . with the blood of his neighbor for slander and slander. Another considers himself a devotee because he says many prayers every day, although after he has finished, he unleashes his tongue in hurtful, proud and insulting words in front of his neighbors and servants. . . . true and living devotion,

O Philothea, supposes the love of God, and supposes no truce with any defects. “Therefore, one who does not keep all the commandments of God cannot be considered good or godly. These words of St. Francis in his introduction to the godly life are sufficient to show us the importance of avoiding even the slightest offense against God when, as we all desire with God's help, we serve him and draw ourselves from want to let him draw to him . . Therefore, it is important to try to avoid even venial sins, of which this little book speaks so plainly.


I once published a book called Thoughts for All Time, now in its 18th edition. This little work could be more aptly titled “Thoughts for All People”. For it is not addressed to a particular class, but is addressed directly to every man who has come to the use of reason. We are all sinners without exception. The rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, the old and the young, the healthy as well as the sick, all occasionally fall into venial errors and should try to understand and appreciate their extreme offense in the sight of God.

Indeed, so great is the evil of sin that if this little treatise, by the blessing of God, had been the means of preventing a single venial sin in any of its readers, it would have accomplished a more glorious task, for it would have prevented a much greater evil (if you could tell) than the Black Death, the bubonic plague, the Tokyo earthquake, or even the universal deluge itself. And we fervently hope it can warn not one, but many, and not one, but many readers, God grant.

December 1923.


“A venial sin may certainly seem light, but it is an offense AGAINST GOD, and that is enough to make one who has a correct conception of this infinite Being look upon it with more horror than the one with whom he it would witness total destruction and instantaneous return to its primordial nothingness of this mighty machine of the universe, with all the creatures it contains, such as heaven, stars, elements, men and angels.- The Christian Reformed, by B. Rogacci, S.J., p. 94.

Mortal sin is a subject dealt with very frequently in Catholic pulpits, and often with considerable force and solemnity. But venial sin is almost never touched upon, except casually and incidentally. On reflection, however, it will be recognized that in many ways venial sin is a more practical and pressing issue, for the following reasons:

First: “Because all, even the good and the pious, fall into venial sins—involuntary venial sins, at any rate—while a very considerable number are usually spared from more serious crimes.

Secondly, because the opportunities to commit serious sins are comparatively rare, while the opportunities to commit venial sins arise all the time, so that most people are guilty of them many times a day.

Third, because there can be no doubt that people who can be persuaded to be truly faithful and sincere in their efforts to avoid venial sins will run very little risk of giving in to something so immeasurably worse. In the business of this life, the general saying is, "Mind the penny and the pounds will take care of themselves. In the affairs of the next life we ​​can apply the same motto with still greater truth, and say with perfect confidence: "Away from all venial sin as far as you can, and mortal sins will depart from themselves.

Fourth. To these three reasons, a fourth may be added that deserves much more attention than it normally receives. By speaking often of venial sin, we can help as many as possible to escape, or at least lessen the magnitude of that truly heinous punishment in the other world that inevitably follows even the slightest violation of God's law. , so that full satisfaction was not achieved with this. Charity itself should be enough to cause us to warn others of the dire consequences of which few are aware, and urge them to take steps to atone for their many daily transgressions while there is still time.

In approaching this very practical subject, we may first ask ourselves why we Catholics, knowing so well what the Church teaches on this point, do not strive to avoid venial sin much more diligently and determinedly than we do. . . It is a most painful and extraordinary, but undeniable, fact that even pious men and those enjoying a well-deserved reputation for holiness are continually betrayed in the commission of petty offences.

They misjudge their neighbors; they entertain unloving thoughts; or they are irritable, jealous, and demanding. They say their prayers in a distracted, absent-minded and superficial manner. Perhaps they get angry easily and have some angry words with their wives, children or servants. They allow little things to turn them off. They grumble and scold because dinner isn't well cooked or the soup is cold. Or they may act irritated because they have to wait outside, or because they haven't called back or replied to their urgent business letter, or because they feel somehow belittled or treated. with little courtesy and respect. Then they will occasionally tell so-called "white lies" and repeat malicious stories just to amuse their neighbors.

In short, in these and a thousand other little things they do not attain absolute perfection; so that day by day the impalpable dust of sin falls and gathers around their souls. Of course, I assume that these offenses are more or less premeditated and willful, and not out of mere weakness, surprise, or carelessness, and I question why even the chosen, God's chosen, fall so often.

It cannot possibly be due to extreme difficulties to avoid these minor transgressions of God's law, for the simple reason that such extreme difficulties do not really exist. In fact, these same people have often, and sometimes, overcome and mastered difficulties far greater than any they currently have. no The main reason we don't wage a more determined and successful war against such defects is that we don't really understand or grasp what a horrible, wicked venial sin is. We see no harm in it. We cannot fully convince ourselves that it can potentially matter A LOT, A LOT whether or not we make a little spiteful remark, or give in to or resist a distraction in prayer. Of course we know that it is better to do the right thing. But we are not at all willing to say openly and boldly that this is a very serious matter destined to affect our eternal happiness and relationships with God Himself and to bring all kinds of calamities upon us. nope; we do not understand at all the unspeakable evil of venial sin. In fact, we care very little about it. We do not make any serious and sustained efforts to avoid this and this is because, whatever our theory, we attach very little importance to it in practice.

A double task awaits us. The first is to explain why we despise venial sins; and secondly, it should be pointed out how completely wrong and fatal such an estimate is.

The main reason we hold onto venial sins so easily is, alas! we are very familiar with mortal sins. let me explain. It is a well-known fact that the presence of a much greater evil will always render us largely insensitive to the presence of a lesser evil. A hunter who is eaten by a tiger pays no heed, scarcely noticing the sharp thorn he trod on in battle and now pierces his foot. He doesn't do any of that. However, if he had nothing more serious to distract him and get his attention, he would make a big deal out of it and declare that he was in agony and attempt to remove the thorn promptly. Similarly, one who is engulfed by a mortal sin (or who sees others falling victim to it) inclines too lightly over the sharp thorns and thorns of venial sin that rend and rend the soul.

Or to use another illustration. As a greater light obscures a lesser, so a greater evil obscures a lesser evil. Let's take an example from the physical world. going out at night. Looks heavenly. See how clear and how bright the stars shine. Notice how bold and prominent they stand out against the dark background. Anyone who can see can see these brilliantly glowing dots. But now you take your place in exactly the same spot during the day. Gaze out into the cloudless blue on a summer morning as the sun floods the sky with its golden rays. are the stars still there Of course they are! They are scattered all over the area in hundreds and thousands; Real; but do they stand out clearly as in the darkest night? can you see them clearly or rather, let me ask you, can you see them? nope! There is no trace of them. Why? Because the immeasurably greater brightness of the sun completely obscures and obscures it. They are there, as always, and they have lost none of their beauty, but they no longer make the slightest impression on our eyes. The more intense light of the sun has made them invisible. If you could turn off the sun for a moment, all the stars would reappear, twinkling and shining for you again; but let go of the sun once more, and again the stars disappear as before.

Well, I understand that something analogous occurs in the spiritual order. Mortal sin is such an unimaginably great evil that venial sin hardly seems bad in comparison. Just as a great light makes it difficult to measure the brightness of a lesser light, or even perceive it at all, so our familiarity with a greater evil will cause us to think little of, or perhaps ignore, a lesser evil. an evil at all.

By God's mercy, many of us may never have fallen into mortal sin in our entire lives. But even then there can be no doubt that we are familiar with it; That said, we are fully aware that thousands of people do this every day. We can never take on a role without encountering cases of robbery, murder, suicide, drunkenness, fights and fights and everything else. Not only are we horrified, but the sad result is often that we are willing to save all our indignation, disgust, hatred and curse for mortal sin; while becoming a little more tolerant and even forgiving of venial sins and more likely to say that we would be quite content "if people didn't do anything worse." And of course we are right in a way. For mortal sin is in truth infinitely worse than venial. In itself it is unspeakably more hateful and abominable, and in its consequences unspeakably more devastating and fatal. So we have to admit that venial sin seems, and indeed is, very insignificant in comparison. Standing beside this infernal monster, the meanness and ingratitude of venial sin seem to vanish, like starlight against the brightest midday sun.

But that is the most that can be argued in favor of venial sins. Having established that it is not as heinous and abominable as mortal sin, we have said absolutely everything that even the strongest proponent of it could cite. But in itself, and in itself we must consider it, it is by far the most abominable and hateful thing imaginable, and it must be fought, fought, resisted, fought for and cursed with the greatest diligence and determination . Eliminating mortal sin entirely from our calculations for the moment, we can say without hesitation or the slightest exaggeration that there is literally no such great evil as venial sin. There are evils of all kinds that exist in the world, or what earthly people call evils, such as poverty, misfortune, sickness, wounds, misfortune, loss, torment, death, etc. None of these evils, however embarrassing and humiliating , but contains a fraction of the evil concentrated in a venial sin.

Unfortunately, we deceive ourselves when we try to soften and hide our venial flaws, because we let ourselves be carried away more by imagination than by reason. So let's put our imagination aside and use our common sense. Faith tells us that the Catholic Church is the oracle of God, the spokesman for Jesus Christ. We know with absolute certainty that when he opens his mouth he speaks the infallible truth; and that she is incapable of exaggerating, or in any way exaggerating, the doctrine of Christ. Now, with that in mind, we proceed to ask what exactly it teaches on this point. She teaches this:

1. Every venial sin is an offense against God.

2. That no circumstance or reason can ever justify a person committing it.

3. That man is obligated to accept every other alternative, no matter how painful, difficult, and distressing, before accepting the guilt of a venial sin.

4. And that in any case it is an insult to the infinite majesty of God offered for a negligible nothing.

As Cardinal Newman puts it in his incomparable way; “The Church holds that it would be better if the sun and moon fell from the sky, that the earth would collapse, and that all the many millions upon it would starve in utter agony (so far as there is mourning temporarily) that these single soul, I will not say that it is lost, but that it commits ONE VENDABLE SIN. 1

So if we could escape the most torturous disease that ends in a painful death by indulging in a small venial sin, we should choose agony and death without hesitation. If we could yield to such a mistake and avoid plagues, famines, fire, the sword, earthquakes, and floods which would otherwise destroy every living soul from one end of the world to the other, it would be utterly sinful and ungodly to do it, and we should be justly punished if we give in to temptation.

Why? Because there is no evil, there is no accumulation of evil, there is no continuation of evil unless sin is included. 1 See Anglican Difficulties p. 19

among them he can balance the evil contained in even the slightest moral flaw. Moreover, the evil of venial sin is so immeasurable that it would be a mistake to assent to it, even though by it we could convert all heretics and unbelievers, bring all sinners to penance, empty purgatory, and lead the lost back to hell to die.. .Grace and Redemption. Yes, even if we could assure all men, present, past and future, of the joys and delights of the beatific vision, we must declare bluntly and emphatically and without hesitation that such an act of venial sin must not be permitted.

Why? Because it is such a terrible evil that the worst hardships suffered by all living beings are nothing compared to it. But it is useless to multiply the comparisons, since whatever the physical or material evils, they can never reach the magnitude of the evil contained in a single venial sin.

This is not an opinion. It's a true fact. It's not a view; nor the teaching of a particular school. nope! It's a dogma of our holy faith, it's terrible! Without a doubt. But it is true. It is incomprehensible, and my sanity is uneasy under the doctrine. It is certainly incomprehensible and difficult to bear. But we repeat once again that it is true. That's the important point, after all.

There are many hard-to-believe truths in our holy religion. There are many mysteries, and of all, perhaps one of the most difficult is sin. But we are forced to accept these revealed truths anyway. Our reason is limited. Being finite, it is unable to deal with all supernatural manifestations. God himself is an enigma to us, and all his thoughts are deeper than any human plumb can sound. “O depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments! How inscrutable are his ways! (Rom. xi 33) calls St. Paul. Although this teaching is of faith, yes once we admit the existence of an infinitely perfect God, it can be shown to be consistent with both common reason and faith. Thus, sin, even venial sin, is an offense offered to God. All other evils of whatever kind are insults offered to creatures. But how God is endless Exalted above creatures, it follows that the slightest insult or injury inflicted on God is a greater evil than the greatest inflicted on His creatures. We clothe our argument in the folds of a parable.

A powerful and perfect king one day accidentally dipped the tip of his finger in the water of a stagnant pond while walking through his lands. As he removes it, he notices a tiny droplet clinging to it. Suppose there are millions and millions of living beings, infusoria, protozoa and the like in this drop. It's true that you can't see them with the naked eye, but they are there. In fact, the little blob of these tiny creatures is more densely populated than the world of humans.

Now which act would be considered the greatest evil, an act that would destroy the life of this wise and noble king, or an act that would destroy the lives of all the inhabitants of this world of raindrops? There can be no doubt about the answer. But go one step further and ask yourself what would be the greatest evil, an act for which the king should not lose his life, but only his sight, or his hearing, or any of his limbs or organs, or vice versa, , an act , by which the entire microscopic world of infusoria must be completely destroyed? Once again there would be no doubt about our answer. Why is this? For a wise and noble king, or any man at all, is so far superior and superior to an animal that it would be better if millions perished all together than that a single man should ever suffer pain, harm, or even any little inconvenience .

The application of this fable is fairly clear. All creatures, both angelic and human, in a word, the whole universe of being, are not only less, but infinitely less in comparison to God than a drop full of little animals in comparison to a human being. After all, the distance between the mightiest monarch and the smallest of the invisible little animals is not infinite; but between God and even the highest of the cherubim or seraphim the distance is absolutely infinite and unimaginable.

Consequently, the slightest harm done to God must be immeasurably worse. per se than any conceivable harm done to man or angel. Therefore, it would in itself be far better and more desirable that all men should suffer than that God alone be in any way offended: that all creatures perish, than that God be in any way belittled or refuted.

So that is the teaching of the Church of God. We must accept it, not as speculative truth, not as theory, but as the deep fact that touches us most deeply and personally. What, then, are we to make of a person who professes to believe that venial sin is such a gigantic evil and such a monstrous affront, and yet makes little or no effort to prevent it? How are we to judge a man's sincerity when, on the one hand, we hear him protest that death and misery are infinitely preferable to the smallest sin, while, on the other hand, we see him giving in to such sins in the greatest provocations? , while making a sacrifice to protect yourself from approaching death or even from poverty or disease? Certainly our faith must control our behavior and direct and shape our lives. And no doubt it would be so if it were a living faith; if, in a word, we were more conscious of his teachings and more eager to obey his voice.

Go back to your past lives. Draw on your past experiences and ask yourself: When I chatted so frivolously with so-and-so and slandered so-and-so and criticized and faulted so-and-so, or freaked out to rise up, or to put down a rival, or when he was telling the truth saved to serve unworthy purposes; Or, when you were guilty of other venial crimes, were you aware of what you were doing? Have I realized that in truth I was the true and only cause of a greater calamity and evil worse than the earthquake that engulfs entire cities? as the plague or the Black Death killing its many millions; or the cruel waters of the Deluge that drowned a whole world? No, maybe not, but actually I was guilty of a far worse evil. where unfortunately! where is our faith Can we accept such a teaching and continue to sin? Can we acknowledge that venial sin is all we have said, and indeed more than we have said, and still give in to it on the slightest pretext?

To see the ease with which even good and holy people succumb, one might assume that their belief has become very flawed or that they have stopped believing altogether. But perhaps the truest explanation is not that they don't believe, but that they don't sincerely consider, recognize and appreciate what the Church really teaches.

poor me! It's too true. We find it difficult to judge correctly and can hardly be persuaded to see things as God sees them because we are still so imperfect and in so much spiritual darkness. “The sensual man does not perceive what is of the Spirit of God; for to him it is foolishness (1 Cor 2:14). Well may Saint David ask: Who understands bad deeds??

But the nearer we draw to God, and the more the light of grace shines in our hearts, the more we understand the filth and stench of venial sins, and the more carefully and successfully we wage unrelenting warfare. against our daily flaws and imperfections.

So let us turn to the important task with fervor and without delay, for the years pass quickly, and the day of life is over, and the night when no one can work is fast approaching.


I suppose that all, without exception, who have seriously considered the matter will admit that in practice none of us fully appreciates the seriousness and intrinsic wickedness of a willful venial sin. This utter lack of anything approaching a proper appreciation of his wickedness and deformity arises from several causes.

I. We have already considered in our first chapter what we believe to be the main cause; but there are others that deserve a mention.

II. that second The cause is our unfortunate familiarity with venial mistakes. people say that Familiarity breeds contempt. This applies in particular to the present case. Most people get so used to following nature instead of grace, and yielding to every inclination that comes along, provided the matter is not serious, that in the end they scarcely realize the innumerable petty offenses and petty transgressions of the law of God of which they are guilty. Very few even bother to think about it or make it the subject of serious consideration. The mere fact that they are constantly being cheated on in small infidelities makes them almost insensitive to them. Unfortunately, this seems to be a law of our nature.

third A third The reason for this is that although we continue to sin venially, there seems to be no harm. Guilt and its punishment do not happen simultaneously. Nothing happens to force us to feel the wickedness of it once committed. In ancient times, God would visit the offender from time to time for prompt and dignified punishment. Because Moses hesitated for a moment when God told him to strike the rock and water would flow out, he is believed to have committed a venial offense, but at that point he was severely punished. Because he was forbidden to set foot on the Promised Land, which he had approached slowly and fearfully for forty years, and then he was almost there and already in sight.

We have another case, in the person of Zachary, the father of John the Baptist. As punishment for a small venial sin, he was left deaf and dumb.

Even the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, who told a lie about a land they had bought, is no longer considered venial by many commentators, but because of this lie, Ananias was struck down and killed first. then, almost immediately after, his wife Saphira. How few would lie so easily as now, if such summary punishment were common today!

Or take another case. Miriam, Moses' sister, began to murmur against him and spoke ill of him, and behold, God caused her to be immediately punished with leprosy, so that Scripture tells us: "Behold, Miriam appeared snow-white with leprosy (Numbers xii 10) .

How different it would be today if every unwelcome thought and word, as soon as it was uttered, produced a very painful and loathsome disease that lacerates our nerves with pain! But that is not God's method. His punishment for venial sin is far worse than any leprosy, but he reserves it for another world. We shall understand something of the evil of venial sin as we burn in the cleansing flames of purgatory. But one of the reasons for our current failure to avoid minor offenses is that in this life we ​​can seemingly commit them with impunity.

IV. A fourth cause is the total misconception that the world around us has of venial sin. Man is usually strongly influenced by the views, opinions and judgments of those under whom he lives. Whether reading newspapers, magazines or books, talking to friends and colleagues, or just listening and exchanging ideas with them, you will find that very few attach even the slightest importance to small sins. Now he doesn't claim to be smarter or more enlightened than others and he has a very comfortable way of accepting their assessment of most things. He finds sin to be very little evil in his eyes, or perhaps nothing at all. They refer to it without horror, call it by mild names, and laugh and joke about it as if it were not worth serious thought. In fact, as Cardinal Newman states, the world thinks that sin is "the same kind of imperfection as inadequacy or vulgarity or sickness and nothing else.

And as we live in the world and mingle with all kinds and conditions of people, we will find, almost without realizing it, that we accept their judgments unless we awaken to a sense of our danger and take immediate action to neutralize them . . But, “Who is this, and shall we praise him? Because he has done wonderful things in his life.

To be really sure we must constantly internally correct the false teachings of the world and remember the true doctrine of the infallible testimony of God's eternal truth.

Now, putting all questions of mortal sin aside for the moment, we have already reflected that venial sin is the greatest of all possible evils and that literally no greater calamity could befall us than to be stained with the taint of a single willful injury. venial sin.

Now let's remember that it is according to God's plan, and a law of his infinite justicethat no one does wrong without reaping the consequences. If I intentionally give in to a single venial mistake, I'm not only committing an evil, but I'm also doing myself a very serious harm. As a result of this offense I will suffer in this life and I will suffer in the next. For the moment we will confine our comments to some of the more notable consequences that follow a venial sin in this world.

A. The first of these is that it obscures the intellect and clouds the judgment of the things of God. Just as there is day and night in the physical order, so there is day and night in the spiritual order. Now, what the sun is in the material world, God is in the spiritual world. He is the "sun of righteousness," the true light that enlightens everyone who comes into this world (John I:9). But God does not distribute His gifts equally to all. His light shines far brighter in the heart of the saint than in the heart of the sinner. The freer the soul is from sin and the purer it is from all faults, the more the light of God penetrates into it and the fuller and more perfect its vision becomes. It is the same with the material light. Although the sun can shine into two different windows with exactly the same force, the amount of light that enters them can be very different. When the window-panes are perfectly clean and spotless, the sun will enter unhindered and flood the whole room with its light, so that the occupants can see all objects most clearly; but when the window becomes covered with dust and dirt, and polluted with the accumulated deposits of the years, the rays of light will surely strike it as before, but with very little effect. Little or no light penetrates, and the ugliness and stench of even the dirtiest objects are barely perceptible. This is a beautiful picture of a soul stained with a multitude of flaws and blemishes. Since these are works of darkness, they obscure the light of the Holy Spirit, so that (even with the best will in the world) a soul in such circumstances will not realize the full enormity of even the gravest sin, and will therefore fall much easier and much deeper than those who keep their conscience pure and free from the slightest fault.

“Ordinary Christians [says Father Bowden] are probably aware of the habitual falls into venial sins of the grosser kind, but know little or nothing of the more subtle workings of their self-love and spiritual sins. . Saints, on the other hand, examine their souls in the light of God's perfection. A ray of their eternal purity penetrating their hearts, revealing their smallest defects like hideous deformities., while the closeness of her relations with him shows that these shortcomings are a personal insult to divine majesty. In the eyes of such an enlightened saint, the Most Holy God is not only his CCreator and lawgiver, but the only being on whose influence and support they depend in every vital act; in the words of the Apostle: "In him we live, move and have our being". From this grows his sense of the abominable wickedness of sin. 1

there can be no dI doubt that a soul that takes care to abstain as much as possible from any imperfection, however small, that could offend God is a soul that has come very close to him, the Sun of Justice, and this divine Sun sheds such a penetrating light in his heart, which becomes exceedingly sensitive to the slightest flaw, and to some extent more clearly than others can see not only the presence, but also the repugnance of flaws otherwise scarcely perceptible, or perhaps not at all as offense apply!

“We do not know what sin is [writes Cardinal Newman] because we do not know what God is; we have no standard to compare it to until we know what God is. On the contrary, only the glory of God, his perfection, his holiness, his majesty, his beauty, can teach us how to think about sin; and (since we do not see God here) we cannot form a just judgment of what sin is until we see him; Until we get to heaven, what God tells us about sin is what we must accept primarily by faith. No, even then we will only be able to condemn sin insofar as we can see, praise and glorify God; only he who can understand God can properly judge sin; he only judged sin according to the fullness of its wickedness, who, knowing the Father from eternity with perfect knowledge, showed what he thought of sin by dying for him; he alone was willing, as God, to endure unimaginable mental and physical pain in order to gratify him. Take his word, or rather his deed, as the truth of this terrible teaching: that a single mortal sin is enough to separate you from God forever. 2

And let me add that a single venial sin is enough to separate you from the blissful vision of God's complete possession until you are fully repented and atoned for.

If there is anyone in this world who can appreciably appreciate the abominations of venial sin, it is only the pure in heart, for only they are given grace, according to the text: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall bid farewell. As one of the rewards of perfect innocence and freedom even from venial sin, it is a wonderful sense of God's holiness and His unapproachable holinessTherefore, one of the punishments for venial sins and imperfections is a reduction in that sense and spiritual blindness, leading us to minimize their wickedness.

B. “But intentionally venial sins bring us a second punishment. they render the will less vigorous in resisting temptation, so that anyone who habitually gives in to even small faults will give in to serious sins much more easily than he who is more faithful. This is easy to understand because the will, like any other ability, can be trained. Its powers are drawn out, strengthened and developed through practice. It can be trained to resist its stimuli or to follow them blindly. The will itself is very plastic and malleable, so it can be shaped one way or another to suit our good taste. And as we get used to resisting and overcoming our disordered tendencies, the effort becomes easier and easier over time. Man is essentially a creature of habit; and habit is the result of constant repetition. In fact, we cannot develop a habit without repetition. This applies to all areas of life. Take the first mason or mason you find along the way and place it in front of a grand piano. Put your hands on the keyboard and ask him, I won't say, just just play your fingers up and down the scales quickly and steadily. Impossible! Also ask him to speak Hebrew. But why? It can't be that extremely difficult in itself, because even the little schoolgirl will master the task with ease. nope; it's not that difficult. It's easy with a little practice, but remember, without practice, it's not only difficult, it's impossible.

1 Testimony of the Saints, p. 32. 2 Addresses to Mixed Congresses, p. 3rd 4th

Practice makes the joints supple and ready to obey the slightest command of the will, so the fingers glide from side to side, low to high, and high to low over the keys as if born of nature. Now it is almost the same with the will. The will will learn almost spontaneously and by itself to resist evil and do good, just as the fingers will learn to play the piano skillfully. But it is important that I take control of my will and carefully cultivate it. I must teach and instruct him. I have to practice it every day and many times a day, in the most important art of resisting and overcoming my bad tendencies in small matters. In order to master any musical instrument perfectly, one must work hard, invest time, do the exercises and practice diligently. And thousands are ready to submit to this monotony and prepare for the task of becoming simply perfect masters of the piano, organ or violin. Surely we should be willing and eager to do just as much and much more to perfect ourselves in the service of God and in the practice of virtue.

If I keep controlling myself and denying myself and taming my passions and restraining my desires and suppressing my evil tendencies and restraining my tongue and guarding my eyes etc. etc., I am not only practicing virtue (which is an extremely important thing), but i do a lot more. In fact, I am busy developing a habit that will be of immense and indeed invaluable benefit in my spiritual struggle. I'm doing something really admirable. I lay the foundations of true holiness; that is, I form a habit that always strengthens my will and makes it more robust and able to resist temptation. I train him to conquer and set him up for greater and more certain victories. Yes; I literally train like an athlete practices for a race or like a musician practices the piano for an exhibition.

Surely it must be quite evident that he who strives with diligence and perseverance to overcome venial sin naturally always exercises his will in the right direction, and ever more firmly establishes it in virtue. What's up? The result is that when a truly serious and dangerous temptation befalls him, he will quickly dissipate it and achieve the most glorious victory. His will, accustomed to resistance and well trained in the art of self-denial, will take no real risk, but win an easy, quick, and decisive triumph. He will hit his opponent like someone familiar with the task: both as a boxer, in full training, it will knock down an inexperienced neophyte who should dare to attack it.

Compare such a true soldier of Jesus Christ with the carefree, careless, unbridled, and apathetic Christian who finds it sufficient to abstain from mortal sin. Such a cowardly and unworthy follower of Christ indulges their desires so long as they ask for nothing seriously wrong. He is afraid of hell and decides to escape the unquenchable flames because Unless you have a very exalted love for God, you have a very exalted love for yourself. But he doesn't have a very strong hatred or dislike for minor offenses. He does not try to stifle small outbursts of anger, small fits of jealousy, harsh or unloving words, or proud and ambitious thoughts. He will not hesitate to tell what he calls a "white lie" to apologize and, when very tired, will retire to bed without saying his nightly prayers and (without actually getting drunk ) indulge in champagne or whiskey too liberally. Now look. He also trains his will. If yes! He is train him to perform; and practice it all day in art not of self-restraint, but of self-indulgence. In a word, he too (whether he is aware of it or not) is diligently developing and cultivating a habit, this terrible habit of sin.

What is the consequence? Her will grows weak and sluggish, and from long habit she gives in to any bad suggestion more readily, and can hardly ever be made to do anything so unusual and frightening as to resist earnest temptation. In fact, the will, so eagerly and so long trained to yield to its inclination to lesser things, feels quite disarmed and defenseless in the face of the much more violent and powerful temptation, and is unable to resist it. A man who does not resist small acts of dishonesty, and who cannot keep his fingers away from pennies or shillings when they get in his way, is unlikely to keep them away from pounds and bills when the opportunity presents itself.

There are two warnings to us in this regard. One is an axiom of human wisdom and observation, viz Nobody is suddenly high. Nobody gets angry all of a sudden. If this is true, then we can be sure that a person who habitually avoids small mistakes will not suddenly make serious ones. Only those who begin to compromise on small things and allow themselves illicit liberties eventually sink into mortal sin, ruin their whole lives and "bought themselves damnation". The second warning to which I referred is of even greater importance because it comes to us with the infallible authority of the Holy Spirit. It clearly declares through the lips of Ecclesiasticus (Xix 1) that “He who despises little things will gradually fall.

Small sins pave the way for larger ones. To use a common expression, they tuck in the thin end of the wedge, which to our amazement is then easier to insert. They can be likened to the cracks and fissures in an otherwise dignified ship. They let in the tide which can eventually sink the entire ship with all its valuable cargo and send it to the bottom.

I. There are some very foolish people who quietly choose to avoid mortal sins, reserving full liberty to commit as many venial sins as they like.

In doing so, they are completely cheating themselves. It is impossible to carry out such a decision. In order to hit a target on the bullseye, you need to aim your arrow over it, not at it. Likewise, in order to avoid all mortal sins, it will not suffice to strive to avoid only mortal sin. We have to aim higher. We must resolve to avoid as much as possible even willful venial sin. Otherwise, we'll share the fate of the Italian bus driver in the Alps, who argued that it didn't matter how close the wheels could get to the cliff's edge, as long as they didn't go over the edge. Finally, one day, trying to illustrate this theory, he slightly misjudged the distance, causing him and his trainer and everything in him to suddenly disappear into the abyss. A similar fate awaits all those who hover as close to the brink of mortal sin as they think they can come. Like the overly adventurous moth spinning around the jet of burning gas, they burn to death when they least expect it. So far the FIRST punishment following a willful venial sin.

II. Let us now consider the SECOND. The habit of committing venial sins not only weakens our will and darkens our understanding, but also increases the power and strength of our spiritual enemies, that is, our passions, sinful desires, and evil tendencies. Our reckless tendencies can be likened to those tiny sparks of fire found in a brazier full of glowing coals. Although they are really just sparks, they have a lot of latent power. If you just fan them out, as I've often seen Italian servants do, they start to glow brighter and brighter. If you continue to blow on them very gently, they will suddenly cease to be sparks and burst into flames, eventually creating a regular conflagration that cannot be managed or controlled. In the same way, small passions easily grow with small indulgences until they become almost irresistible. The story is told of a certain Indian chief who, after shooting a beautiful lioness, took pity on her little cub, took him home and made him his pet. As long as it was just a puppy, she had no trouble handling it. But as he fed it day by day, it grew stronger and stronger, until one day, in a fit of rage, he threw himself on his benefactor and tore him to pieces. So it is with our passions. While they are young and undeveloped we can contain them, but once we start feeding them, that is, once we give them what they want and satisfy their appetite, they develop and grow. stronger and stronger until they finally dominate us and bring us down. Let's take a case.

A man drinks too much. He doesn't actually get drunk, but often takes more than he should. He feeds the lioness cub. In this way it strengthens them. Finally a day comes when the inclination proves too strong for him and he sins gravely. The puppy tore him (mentally) to pieces. Or a man can feel the impulses of an impure desire. Start by taking a few small liberties. He gets a bit adventurous and reckless. In a word, it feeds this devil's pup, this evil passion, until, as it were, growing stronger and stronger with every pleasure, it finally falls upon him and tears him to pieces; in other words, it destroys the life of grace in his soul.

Thus it is evident that habitual venial sin simultaneously has two devastating effects. On the one hand it strengthens our temptations, on the other hand it weakens our will and makes us much less able to resist them.. In other words, it gives our enemies more power to damage us while reducing our toughness. These consequences are bad enough, but that's not all.

Third Third, venial sin also robs us of that special and utterly extraordinary friendship that God is always willing to show to those who strive for perfection. This constitutes the THIRD sanction for such crimes. All teachers of spiritual life agree that because of our petty unfaithfulness and licentiousness we lose every right to God's chosen and exalted favor and blessing. It is true that there is enough to all. Everyone can expect to receive their ordinary graces. But beyond that, there are a great number of rare and certainly priceless graces that he reserves for his most obedient and obedient children. To these he usually bestows innumerable gifts and spiritual aids, which he withholds from those whose carelessness and lukewarmness in his service have rendered them utterly unworthy. God defends and protects to some extent every soul that calls upon him, but he has a very special love for those who seek an even closer union with him, and he watches over and protects them like the apple of his eye. (like the pupil of the eye).

What the precise extent of this loss may be in each individual case, none of us will know until we step into the other world and learn exactly how far we are from attaining the exalted position we would have attained if we would have done. showed a little more enthusiasm.

Venial sin deprives us of the special favor of God. We are not saying that divine grace is dying. nope! Thank God! what you can never do Whether our soul is tainted by one venial offense, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand, it can never be completely bereft of the friendship of Almighty God. Venial sins do not come together like other things. It is true that twelve pence makes a shilling, and that 160 stone weights make a ton; but no number of venial sins, however multiplied, can ever constitute or equal a mortal sin, nor turn God from friend to foe, as mortal sin does.

IV. What other effect, then, do venial sins have on the soul? They mar his beauty, sprinkle him with moral filth, besmirch him, hurt him, make him so unsightly and loathsome that he can never be admitted to heaven so long as they cling to it. But he still lives with the life of divine grace, although his vitality is severely weakened. God's attitude towards such a soul can be compared to that of a loving mother towards her own sick child. The child may be sick and his poor little body weakened with sickness and covered with pustules and pimples and weeping sores and weeping scars, but she still loves him and cares for him as only a mother can. He will no longer hold it close to his chest, nor will he cover it with kisses because its flesh is a mass of dirty scabs, but he will not throw it away or despise it. nope; His attitude continues to be one of sweetness, compassion, and even love. When the poor little body is not only unsightly, but absolutely cold and dead, she tears away from him. She allows strange hands to be placed on her son and the child's body removed and thrown into the grave, forever out of sight.

So in the case of Almighty God. No venial sin, no matter how terrible and disgusting it may seem to him, can cause him to withdraw his love. Only when mortal sin has truly destroyed the life of grace does it allow strangers, ie demons, to claim their victims and definitively possess the guilty soul. On the other hand, no one can imagine the deformity of venial sin, or understand how it wastes the beauty of the soul. Nor can anyone see the harm that a soul does to itself if, with the ever available grace of God that would have protected it from all evil, it would reciprocate by such negligence and negligence. God has sometimes, as we read in the lives of his saints, brought before them the image of a single venial sin as it appears in the light of his countenance, and we are told that the sight almost killed them, nay, would kill them. would have killed her if it hadn't been withdrawn immediately. 1 If in reality we cannot see all the deformity and wickedness of venial sin, as such favored souls have seen, let us at least quicken our faith and believe in it fully, and so deserve a special blessing from our divine Lord of power from ours to be among those who, although they "did not see, believed" (John 20:29). We may foolishly try to convince ourselves that avoiding venial sins is a small thing. However, it's those little things that make perfection, and as Michelangelo said, perfection is no small matter!

1 Video Newman, DISKETTE. on the Mixed Congress, p. 338 ff.

Nothing stands in the way.

G. H. Joyce, SJ, Deputy Censor.

IMPRIMATURE. Edm. You can. surmont, Vicar General


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