Friday, October 03, 2008

Sin – Original and Actual, Mortal and Venial
CCD Class Four

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Sin --

75. What was the first human sin?
When tempted by the devil, the first man and woman allowed trust in their Creator to die in their hearts. In their disobedience they wished to become “like God” but without God and not in accordance with God (Genesis 3:5). Thus, Adam and Eve immediately lost for themselves and for all their descendants the original grace of holiness and justice.

76. What is original sin?
Original sin, in which all human beings are born, is the state of deprivation of original holiness and justice. It is a sin “contracted” by us not “committed”; it is a state of birth and not a personal act. Because of the original unity of all human beings, it is transmitted to the descendants of Adam “not by imitation, but by propagation”. This transmission remains a mystery which we cannot fully understand

77. What other consequences derive from original sin?
In consequence of original sin human nature, without being totally corrupted, is wounded in its natural powers. It is subject to ignorance, to suffering, and to the dominion of death and is inclined toward sin. This inclination is called concupiscence.

392. What is sin?
Sin is “a word, an act, or a desire contrary to the eternal Law” (Saint Augustine). It is an offense against God in disobedience to his love. It wounds human nature and injures human solidarity. Christ in his passion fully revealed the seriousness of sin and overcame it with his mercy.

393. Is there a variety of sins?
There are a great many kinds of sins. They can be distinguished according to their object or according to the virtues or commandments which they violate. They can directly concern God, neighbor, or ourselves. They can also be divided into sins of thought, of word, of deed, or of omission.

394. How are sins distinguished according to their gravity?
A distinction is made between mortal and venial sin.

395. When does one commit a mortal sin?
One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

396. When does one commit a venial sin?
One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

397. How does sin proliferate?
Sin creates a proclivity to sin ; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts.

The Baltimore Catechism on Sin --

274. How is sin divided?
(1) Sin is divided into the sin we inherit called original sin, and the sin we commit ourselves, called actual sin. (2) Actual sin is subdivided into greater sins, called mortal, and lesser sins, called venial.

Original Sin

265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?
The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.

266. Why is this sin called original?
This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.

253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?
We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.

258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?
The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.

259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?
Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.

260. What do we mean by "our nature was corrupted"?
When we say "our nature was corrupted" we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.

261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?
We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.

262. Why do we say our will was weakened?
We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam's sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.

263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?
This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.

264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?
This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.

Actual (Individual) Sin

275. In how many ways may actual sin be committed?
Actual sin may be committed in two ways: namely, by willfully doing things forbidden, or by willfully neglecting things commanded.

276. What is our sin called when we neglect things commanded?
When we neglect things commanded our sin is called a sin of omission. Such sins as willfully neglecting to hear Mass on Sundays, or neglecting to go to Confession at least once a year, are sins of omission.

278. What is actual sin?
Actual sin is any willful thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the law of God.

279. How many kinds of actual sin are there?
There are two kinds of actual sin -- mortal and venial.

280. What is mortal sin?
Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.

281. Why is this sin called mortal?
This sin is called mortal because it deprives us of spiritual life, which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation on the soul.

282. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?
To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

283. What do we mean by "grievous matter" with regard to sin?
By "grievous matter" with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.

284. What does "sufficient reflection and full consent of the will" mean?
"Sufficient reflection" means that we must know the thought, word or deed to be sinful at the time we are guilty of it; and "full consent of the will" means that we must fully and willfully yield to it.

285. What are sins committed without reflection or consent called?
Sins committed without reflection or consent are called material sins; that is, they would be formal or real sins if we knew their sinfulness at the time we committed them. Thus to eat flesh meat on a day of abstinence without knowing it to be a day of abstinence or without thinking of the prohibition, would be a material sin.

286. Do past material sins become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness?
Past material sins do not become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness, unless we again repeat them with full knowledge and consent.

287. How can we know what sins are considered mortal?
We can know what sins are considered mortal from Holy Scripture; from the teaching of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

288. Why is it wrong to judge others guilty of sin?
It is wrong to judge others guilty of sin because we cannot know for certain that their sinful act was committed with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

289. What sin does he commit who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin?
He who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin commits a sin of rash judgment.

290. What is venial sin?
Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.
291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?
No. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin, and in such cases we must leave the decision to our confessor.

292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?
Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.

293. Which are the effects of venial sin?
The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin.

294. How can we know a thought, word or deed to be sinful?
We can know a thought, word or deed to be sinful if it, or the neglect of it, is forbidden by any law of God or of His Church, or if it is opposed to any supernatural virtue.

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