What is Sin? (March 7 & 8)

What is Sin?

Sin in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods.... It has been defined [by St Augustine] as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law."

Sin is an offense against God.... Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods," knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to the contempt of God."

Mortal sin and venial sin.

Mortal sin committed by a baptized person removes the person from the State of Grace and therefore denies them the reward of Heaven. A baptized person who dies with mortal sin on their soul will go to Hell.    Venial sin, on the other hand, while it requires us to do satisfaction for our sin and is deserving of punishment, does not bring us eternal punishment.

For a sin to be a mortal sin, three things are required:

  • the matter must be "grave";

  • the sin must be committed with full knowledge; and

  • the sin must be committed deliberately.

Thus, the sin must be a serious sin. There is no doubt that matters such as murder, theft, sexual sins, bearing false witness, etc. are taken sufficiently seriously by the Church to constitute grave matter. Anyone committing these sins, knowing full well that they are grave matters and nevertheless deliberately commits the sin, commits a mortal sin.

So venial sin isn't so bad?

While venial sin will not land you in Hell, it should nevertheless be avoided and despised. We are all called to Holiness and Perfection. Attachment to any sin, even venial sins, prevents us from attaining those goals.  Daily examinations of one’s conscience and frequent confession are important for a healthy spiritual life.

Loss of the Sense of Sin
The “sense of sin” is rooted in our moral conscience and is as it were its thermometer. It is linked to the sense of God, since it derives from our conscious relationship with God as creator, Lord and Father. Hence, just as it is impossible to eradicate completely the sense of God or to silence the conscience completely, so the sense of sin is never completely eliminated.

Nevertheless, it happens not infrequently in history, for lengthy periods and under the influence of many different factors, that the moral conscience of many people becomes seriously clouded. When the conscience is weakened the sense of God is also obscured, and as a result, with the loss of this decisive inner point of reference, the sense of sin is lost.

Personal Sin and Social Sin

There is a tendency today by some in the Church only to use the word sin when they are referring to the so-called "social sins" like sexism, racism, genocide, oppression of the poor. This view has dangerous consequences: it leads to a diminution of the sense of personal responsibility for sin and personal sinfulness and so the need for personal forgiveness. 

Sin, in the proper sense, is always a personal act, since it is an act of freedom on the part of an individual person and not properly of a group or community. However, whenever the Church speaks of situations of sin or when she condemns as social sins certain situations or the collective behavior of certain social groups, big or small, or even of whole nations and blocs of nations, she knows and she proclaims that such cases of social sin are the result of the accumulation and concentration of many personal sins. It is a case of the very personal sins of those who cause or support evil or who exploit it; of those who are in a position to avoid, eliminate or at least limit certain social evils but who fail to do so out of laziness, fear or the conspiracy of silence, through secret complicity or indifference; of those who take refuge in the supposed impossibility of changing the world and also of those who sidestep the effort and sacrifice required, producing specious reasons of a higher order. The real responsibility, then lies with individuals.

Confession Times at Walpole Catholic 

We recognize both our human failures, but also God’s limitless love for us.   Confessions are heard:

  • Every Wednesday from 6:30-8 pm at Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary's

  • Saturday at 3pm both at Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary Churches