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Catholic Basics: Sin & Vice

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Catholic Basics: 

Sin & Vice (Q & A)

Important Notice: The following is provided for informational purposes only and is not comprehensive. Translation, wording, punctuation, capitalization, etc. may vary (and we may change wording, capitalization, punctuation, shorten items, etc.). By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For more terms information, click here


Click link below or scroll down to view all:

What is Sin?

When is Sin Committed?

How is Sin Committed?

What Are the Two Kinds of Sin?

What is Original Sin?

Are All Persons Ever Conceived Burdened With the Guilt of Original Sin?

Why Are All Persons Burdened With the Guilt of Original Sin?

Why is it Just That All Persons Be Punished on Account of the Sin of Adam?

What Are Some Consequences of Original Sin?

How Could the Evil of Original Sin be Repaired?

How Are We Cleansed From Original Sin?

Was Anyone Ever Preserved From Original Sin?

Where Can I Learn More About Original Sin?

What is Actual Sin?

What Are the Chief Sources of Actual Sin?

What Are the Two Types of Actual Sin?

How is Actual Sin Committed?

What is Mortal Sin?

What Conditions Are Necessary for Sin to be Mortal?

What Are the Effects of Mortal Sin?

Is a Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Enough to Condemn a Soul to Hell For all Eternity?

What Should One Do Upon Committing a Mortal Sin?

After Committing a Mortal Sin, Can One Receive Holy Communion?

How Necessary Is the Sacrament of Penance For Those Who Have Fallen Into Mortal Sin?

What is Venial Sin?

What Are the Effects of Venial Sin?

Can Venial Sin Really Be Considered Light?

What Should One Do Upon Committing a Venial Sin?

Can Venial Sins Be Confessed?

How Else May Venial Sins Be Pardoned?

Does Any Sin Go Unpunished?

Since God is Merciful, Why Is All Sin Punished?

What Role Do Indulgences Have in Remitting Punishment?

Can Sins Be Forgiven Without Contrition?

Besides Contrition & Confession What Else Must Be Done Upon Committing Sin?

What is an Occasion of Sin?

Are We Bound to Avoid Occasions of Sin?

What Means Especially Help Us Avoid Sin?

Is Simply Avoiding Sin Sufficient?

Are All Promised Repentance?

Is There Confession After Death?

What is the Difference Between Sin and Vice?

When Are Bad Thoughts Sins?

Can Any Circumstance Make a Sin Licit?

Can a Person Be Forced to Sin?

Since God Loves Everyone, How Can it Be Said that He Hates Sinners?

How Might Sins Be More or Less Grave?

What Are the Six Sins Against the Holy Spirit?

What Does it Mean that Sins Against the Holy Spirit Are Unforgivable?

What Are the Four Sins 'Crying to Heaven for Vengeance'?

What Are the Seven Capital Sins ('Deadly Sins')?

In What Ways Can One be an Accessory to Another's Sin?

What Are the Chief Sources of Sin (Vices) and What Are Their Contrary Virtues?

Can the Church Forgive All Sins?

How Does the Church Forgive Sin?

Does the Sacrament of Penance Remit All Punishment Due to Sin?

Which Are the Chief Means by Which We Satisfy God For the Temporal Punishment Due to Sin?

What Should One Do When Tempted to Sin?

Why Does the Devil Tempt Us to Sin?

Also Try...

Question

Answer

What is Sin?

"[S]in is an offense against God." (Pope John Paul II)

"Sin is a thought, a word, an action, contrary to the law of God." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Sin, therefore, is the will to sustain or follow after what justice forbids, and from which the will is free to abstain." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 391 A.D.)

When is Sin Committed?

Q: "When do we commit sin?" A: "When we willfully violate a commandment of God." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

How is Sin Committed?

Q: "How do we commit sin?" A: "In thoughts, words and actions, and by the omission of the good that we are obliged to do." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"You must know that sin can be committed in three ways. It is done either in ignorance, in weakness, or of set purpose. And certainly the sin committed in weakness is more grave than that done in ignorance: but that done of set purpose is much more grave than that done in weakness." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

What Are the Two Kinds of Sin?

"There are two kinds of sin: original sin and actual sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

What is Original Sin?

"The sin which we inherit from our first parents [Adam & Eve] is called original sin... 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." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Original sin is the sin in which we are all born, and which we contracted by the disobedience of our first parent, Adam." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Are All Persons Ever Conceived Burdened With the Guilt of Original Sin? 

Since the Fall, all persons ever conceived - with the exception of Lord Jesus Christ his Blessed Mother Mary - are burdened with the guilt of original sin.

Why Are All Persons Burdened With the Guilt of Original Sin? 

"Original sin is transmitted to all men because God, having conferred sanctifying grace and other supernatural gifts on the human race in Adam, on the condition that Adam should not disobey Him; and Adam having disobeyed, as head and father of the human race, rendered human nature rebellious against God." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"It is our sin also because Adam, having committed it in his capacity as the head and source of the human race, it was transmitted by natural generation to all his descendants: and hence in us it is original sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Why is it Just That All Persons Be Punished on Account of the Sin of Adam?

"God is not unjust in punishing us on account of the sin of Adam, because original sin does not take away from us anything to which we have a strict right as human beings, but only the free gifts which God in His goodness would have bestowed on us if Adam had not sinned." (Baltimore Catechism)

What Are Some Consequences of Original Sin?

"[O]n account of original sin heaven was closed and was to be opened only by Jesus Christ." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"The chief punishments of Adam which we inherit through original sin are: death, suffering, ignorance, and a strong inclination to sin." (Baltimore Catechism)

"On account of the sin of Adam, we, his descendants, come into the world deprived of sanctifying grace and inherit his punishment, as we would have inherited his gifts had he been obedient to God." (Baltimore Catechism)

"[H]uman nature was stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. For a virtuous life it is absolutely necessary to restrain the disorderly movements of the soul, and to make the passions obedient to reason. In this conflict human things must very often be despised, and the greatest labors and hardships must be undergone" (Pope Leo XIII, "Humanum Genus", 1884 A.D.)

"[O]riginal sin...has so destroyed the wonderful harmony of man's faculties that, easily led astray by his evil desires, he is strongly incited to prefer the passing goods of this world to the lasting goods of Heaven. Hence arises that unquenchable thirst for riches and temporal goods, which has at all times impelled men to break God's laws and trample upon the rights of their neighbors" (Pope Pius XI, "Quadragesimo Anno", 1931 A.D.)

"The sentence pronounced by the Almighty upon our first parents was to fall upon their children to the end of time. We have been considering...the penalties of the great sin; but the severest and most humiliating of them all remains to be told. It is the transmission to the whole human race of original sin. It is true that the merits of the promised Redeemer will be applied to each individual man [as applicable], in the manner established by God at various periods of time: still, this spiritual regeneration, whilst cleansing us from the leprosy which covered us, and restoring us to the dignity of children of God, will not remove every scar of the old wound. It will save us from eternal death, and restore us to life; but, as long as our pilgrimage lasts, we shall be weak and sickly. Thus it is that ignorance makes us short-sighted in those great truths, which should engross all our thoughts; and this fills us with illusions, which, by an unhappy inclination of our will, we cling to and love. Concupiscence is ever striving to make our soul a slave to the body; and in order to escape this tyranny, our life has to be one continual struggle. An unruly love for independence is unceasingly making us desire to be our own masters, and forget that we were born to obey. We find pleasure in sin, whereas virtue rewards us with nothing in this life, save the consciousness of our having done our duty." (Dom Gueranger)

"I answer that, As stated in the foregoing Article, on account of their sin, our first parents were deprived of the Divine favor, whereby the integrity of human nature was maintained in them, and by the withdrawal of this favor human nature incurred penal defects. Hence they were punished in two ways. In the first place by being deprived of that which was befitting the state of integrity, namely the place of the earthly paradise: and this is indicated (Genesis 3:23) where it is stated that 'God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure.' And since he was unable, of himself, to return to that state of original innocence, it was fitting that obstacles should be placed against his recovering those things that were befitting his original state, namely food (lest he should take of the tree of life) and place; for 'God placed before... paradise... Cherubim, and a flaming sword.' Secondly, they were punished by having appointed to them things befitting a nature bereft of the aforesaid favor: and this as regards both the body and the soul. With regard to the body, to which pertains the distinction of sex, one punishment was appointed to the woman and another to the man. To the woman punishment was appointed in respect of two things on account of which she is united to the man; and these are the begetting of children, and community of works pertaining to family life. As regards the begetting of children, she was punished in two ways: first in the weariness to which she is subject while carrying the child after conception, and this is indicated in the words (Genesis 3:16), 'I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions'; secondly, in the pain which she suffers in giving birth, and this is indicated by the words (Genesis 3:16), 'In sorrow shalt thou bring forth.' As regards family life she was punished by being subjected to her husband's authority, and this is conveyed in the words (Genesis 3:16), 'Thou shalt be under thy husband's power.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God, may, errors being purged away, continue in its own perfect and spotless integrity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine; whereas that old serpent, the perpetual enemy of mankind, amongst the very many evils with which the Church of God is in these our times troubled, has also stirred up not only new, but even old, dissensions touching original sin, and the remedy thereof; the sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent - lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the three same legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein - wishing now to come to the reclaiming of the erring, and the confirming of the wavering, following the testimonies of the sacred Scriptures, of the holy Fathers, of the most approved councils, and the judgment and consent of the Church itself, ordains, confesses, and declares these things touching the said original sin: 1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema. 2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema: whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned. 3. If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam - which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own - is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other; As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ. 4. If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting - whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 5. If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. But this holy synod confesses and is sensible, that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin); which, whereas it is left for our exercise, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin. This same holy Synod doth nevertheless declare, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews." (Council of Trent)

How Could the Evil of Original Sin be Repaired?

"[T]he guilt and punishment of original sin were not confined to Adam, but justly descended from him, as from their source and cause, to all posterity. The human race, having fallen from its elevated dignity, no power of men or Angels could raise it from its fallen condition and replace it in its primitive state. To remedy the evil and repair the loss it became necessary that the Son of God, whose power is infinite, clothed in the weakness of our flesh, should remove the infinite weight of sin and reconcile us to God in His blood." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"On account, however, of original sin, our whole nature had fallen into such guilt and dishonor that we had become enemies to God. 'We were by nature the children of wrath' (Eph. ii., 3). There was no power which could raise us and deliver us from this ruin and eternal destruction. But God, the Creator of mankind and infinitely merciful, did this through His only begotten Son, by whose benefit it was brought about that man was restored to that rank and dignity whence he had fallen, and was adorned with still more abundant graces. No one can express the greatness of this work of divine grace in the souls of men. Wherefore, both in Holy Scripture and in the writings of the fathers, [baptized] men are styled regenerated, new creatures, partakers of the Divine Nature, children of God, god-like, and similar epithets." (Pope Leo XIII, "Divinum Illud Munus", 1897 A.D.)

How Are We Cleansed From Original Sin? 

To be cleansed from Original Sin (and our actual sins), the merits of Christ's Passion must be applied to individual souls by means of Baptism.

"[W]e are cleansed from original sin only by Baptism." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"To be born means to be in the arms of the demon rather than the arms of God. Baptism ransoms us from this slavery and makes us free, children of God." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

Was Anyone Ever Preserved From Original Sin?

"The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception" (Baltimore Catechism)

Note: Of course, Jesus was also free of Original Sin as he assumed our Human nature but not our sinfulness.

Where Can I Learn More About Original Sin? 

For more information on original sin, try here (Catholic Basics Reflections / Original Sin)

What is Actual Sin?

"Actual sin is any willful thought, desire, word, action, or omission forbidden by the law of God." (Baltimore Catechism)

What Are the Chief Sources of Actual Sin? 

"The chief sources of actual sin are: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, and these are commonly called capital sins." (Baltimore Catechism)

What Are the Two Types of Actual Sin?

"Actual sin is sub-divided into greater sins, called mortal, and lesser sins, called venial." (Baltimore Catechism)

How is Actual Sin Committed? 

"Actual sin may be committed in two ways: namely, by willfully doing things forbidden, or by willfully neglecting things commanded." (Baltimore Catechism) 

What is Mortal Sin?

"Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Mortal sin is a transgression of the divine Law by which we seriously fail in our duties towards God, towards our neighbor, or towards ourselves." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

What Conditions Are Necessary for Sin to be Mortal? 

"To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will." (Baltimore Catechism)

"For a sin to be mortal three things are required: (1) Grave matter, (2) Full advertence, (3) Perfect consent of the will." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"To constitute a mortal sin, besides grave matter there is also required full consciousness of the gravity of the matter, along with the deliberate will to commit the sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Note that even if the action / word / desire / omission / etc. isn't seriously wrong, if it is merely thought to be seriously wrong, yet done anyway, the sin may be mortal. 

What Are the Effects of Mortal Sin?

"[Mortal sin] deprives us of spiritual life, which is sanctifying grace, and brings everlasting death and damnation on the soul." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Moreover, if anyone without repentance dies in mortal sin, without a doubt he is tortured forever by the flames of eternal hell." (Council of Lyons / Pope Innocent IV, 1254 A.D.)

"Committing sin makes us strangers to God and leagues us with the devil." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Q: "Who are they who go to Hell?" A: "They who do not die in the grace of God, that is, [those] who die in mortal sin." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"Those are punished in hell who die in mortal sin; they are deprived of the vision of God and suffer dreadful torments, especially that of fire, for all eternity." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Although the sinner does not believe in Hell, he shall nevertheless go there if he has the misfortune to die in mortal sin - even though he neither believes in Hell or even thinks about it." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

"[A]ll whosoever die in mortal sin, neither faith nor works of mercy will free them from eternal punishment, not even after any length of time" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It (The Roman Church) teaches...that the souls... of those who die in mortal sin, or with only original sin descend immediately into hell; however, to be punished with different penalties and in different places." (Pope John XXII, 1321 A.D.)

"Besides depriving the sinner of sanctifying grace, mortal sin makes the soul an enemy of God, takes away the merit of all its good actions, deprives it of the right to everlasting happiness in heaven, and makes it deserving of everlasting punishment in hell." (Baltimore Catechism)

"What injury does mortal sin do the soul? (1) Mortal sin deprives the soul of grace and of the friendship of God; (2) It makes it lose Heaven; (3) It deprives it of merits already acquired, and renders it incapable of acquiring new merits; (4) It makes it the slave of the devil; (5) It makes it deserve hell as well as the chastisements of this life." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"For since sin is an offense against God, excluding us from eternal life, as is clear from what has been said above (Q71,A6; Q113,A2), no one existing in a state of mortal sin can merit eternal life unless first he be reconciled to God, through his sin being forgiven, which is brought about by grace. For the sinner deserves not life, but death, according to Romans 6:23: 'The wages of sin is death.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Is a Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Enough to Condemn a Soul to Hell For all Eternity?

"It is of faith that Heaven exists for the good and Hell for the wicked. Faith teaches that the pains of Hell are eternal, and it also warns us that one single mortal sin suffices to condemn a soul forever because of the infinite malice by which it offends an infinite God." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

Note: This refers to an unrepented mortal sin. Every mortal sin - no matter how evil - can be forgiven. See applicable topics herein for more information.

What Should One Do Upon Committing a Mortal Sin? 

"When a person is in mortal sin nothing can be more salutary, so precarious is human life, than to have immediate recourse to confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin, we should ask God's pardon and grace at once, make an act of perfect contrition, and go to confession as soon as we can." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Should anyone be conscious of sin, he should immediately accuse himself, humbly solicit pardon from God, and implore time to confess and satisfy for his sins." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"A person in mortal sin can regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance by making an act of perfect contrition with the sincere purpose of going to confession." (Baltimore Catechism)

"It is well and most useful to make an act of contrition often, especially before going to sleep or when we know we have or fear we have fallen into mortal sin, in order to recover God's grace as soon as possible; and this practice will make it easier for us to obtain from God the grace of making a like act at the time of our greatest need, that is, when in danger of death." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

After Committing a Mortal Sin, Can One Receive Holy Communion? 

"We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition; one who has sinned grievously must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion." (Baltimore Catechism)

"One who knows that he is in mortal sin must make a good confession before going to Holy Communion, for even an act of perfect contrition is not enough without confession to enable one who is in mortal sin to receive Holy Communion properly." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"The Council of Trent has defined that no one conscious of mortal sin and having an opportunity of going to confession, however contrite he may deem himself, is to approach the Holy Eucharist until he has been purified by sacramental confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

How Necessary Is the Sacrament of Penance For Those Who Have Fallen Into Mortal Sin?

"The sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation to all who have committed a mortal sin after Baptism." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"For those who fall into sin after Baptism the Sacrament of Penance is as necessary to salvation as is Baptism for those who have not been already baptized." (Council of Trent)

"The faithful must be impressed with the conviction that he who is dead in sin is to be recalled to spiritual life by means of sacramental confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

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 if it is an offence committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Venial sin is a lesser transgression of the divine Law, by which we slightly fail in some duty towards God, towards our neighbor, or towards ourselves." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"Venial sin is a less serious offense against the law of God, which does not deprive the soul of sanctifying grace, and which can be pardoned even without sacramental confession." (Baltimore Catechism)

What 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." (Baltimore Catechism)

"[A] venial sin, of its very nature, disposes to mortal sin" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Venial sin: (1) Weakens and chills charity in us; (2) Disposes us to mortal sin; (3) Renders us deserving of great temporal punishments both in this world and in the next." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"[V]enial sin...is displeasing to God, merits temporal punishment, and may lead to mortal sin" (Baltimore Catechism)

Q: "How does God punish venial sin?" A: "He punishes it in this life by all kinds of temporal evils, and after death by the torments of purgatory." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"Venial sin harms us by making us less fervent in the service of God, by weakening our power to resist mortal sin, and by making us deserving of God's punishments in this life or in purgatory." (Baltimore Catechism)

"We do not, of course, believe that the soul is killed by [venial] sins; but still, they make it ugly by covering it as if with some kind of pustules and, as it were, with horrible scabs, which allow the soul to come only with difficulty to the embrace of the heavenly Spouse, of whom it is written 'He prepared for Himself a Church having neither spot nor blemish.'" (St. Caesar of Arles)

Can Venial Sin Really Be Considered Light? 

"Can any sin be called light, since every sin involves some contempt of God?" (St. Eucherius)

"So long as he is in the flesh, a man is not able to be without sins, at least the lesser ones; but do not make light even of those sins calls lesser. If you make light of them when you weigh them, be terrified when you count them. Many lesser ones make one big one; many drops fill a river; many grains make a lump." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

What Should One Do Upon Committing a Venial Sin? 

"If I have fallen into sin I should cast myself in spirit at the feet of Christ, and humbly beg His pardon by a sincere act of contrition." [A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")]

Can Venial Sins Be Confessed? 

"It is necessary to confess every mortal sin which has not yet been confessed and forgiven; it is not necessary to confess our venial sins, but it is better to do so." (Baltimore Catechism)

"To render the confession of venial sins more secure it is prudent also to confess with true sorrow some grave sin of the past, even though it has been already confessed." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"If one confesses only venial sins without having sorrow for at least one of them, his confession is in vain; moreover it would be sacrilegious if the absence of sorrow was conscious." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"When we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession, we should confess our venial sins or some sin told in a previous confession, for which we are again sorry, in order that the priest may give us absolution." (Baltimore Catechism)

How Else May Venial Sins Be Pardoned? 

"Venial sins, which do not separate us from the grace of God, and into which we frequently fall, although they may be usefully confessed, as the experience of the pious proves, may be omitted without sin, and expiated by a variety of other means." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Where prayer is poured forth, sins are covered." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"It cannot be doubted that by the Eucharist are remitted and pardoned lighter sins, commonly called venial." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Venial sin is never forgiven without some act, explicit or implicit, of the virtue of penance...: it can, however, be forgiven without the sacrament of Penance, which is formally perfected by the priestly absolution" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The chief benefits obtained by the use of the sacramentals are: first, actual graces; second, the forgiveness of venial sins; third, the remission of temporal punishment; fourth, health of body and material blessings; fifth, protection from evil spirits." (Baltimore Catechism)

"In the same way, as soon as you perceive a little stain on your soul, take some holy water with respect, do one of those good works to which the remission of venial sins is attached - an alms, a genuflection to the Blessed Sacrament, hearing a Mass." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"...so great is the liberality of the divine munificence that not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by us in atonement for sin can we make satisfaction to God the Father through Jesus Christ, or by punishments imposed by the judgment of the priest according to the measure of our offense, but also, (and this is the greatest proof of love) by the temporal afflictions imposed by God and patiently borne by us." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"The infusion of grace is not necessary for the blotting out of venial sin. Wherefore, since grace is infused in each of the sacraments of the New Law, none of them was instituted directly against venial sin. This is taken away by certain sacramentals, for instance, Holy Water and such like." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[N]o infusion of fresh grace is required for the forgiveness of a venial sin, but it is enough to have an act proceeding from grace, in detestation of that venial sin, either explicit or at least implicit, as when one is moved fervently to God. Hence, for three reasons, certain things cause the remission of venial sins: first, because they imply the infusion of grace, since the infusion of grace removes venial sins...; and so, by the Eucharist, Extreme Unction, and by all the sacraments of the New Law without exception, wherein grace is conferred, venial sins are remitted. Secondly, because they imply a movement of detestation for sin, and in this way the general confession [i.e. the recital of the Confiteor or of an act of contrition], the beating of one's breast, and the Lord's Prayer conduce to the remission of venial sins, for we ask in the Lord's Prayer: 'Forgive us our trespasses.' Thirdly, because they include a movement of reverence for God and Divine things; and in this way a bishop's blessing, the sprinkling of holy water, any sacramental anointing, a prayer said in a dedicated church, and anything else of the kind, conduce to the remission of venial sins... All these things cause the remission of venial sins, in so far as they incline the soul to the movement of penance, viz., the implicit or explicit detestation of one's sins...but the remission may be hindered as regards certain venial sins, to which the mind is still actually attached, even as insincerity sometimes impedes the effect of Baptism." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Does Any Sin Go Unpunished? 

"Therefore God never spares him that offends, in that he never leaves his sin without taking vengeance on it. For either man himself in doing penance punishes it in himself, or God in dealing with man in vengeance for it, visits it with His rod, and thus there is never any sparing of sin, in that it is never remitted without vengeance." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

"Every sin is a debt which we contract towards Almighty God, and His justice demands payment down to the very last farthing." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

Since God is Merciful, Why Is All Sin Punished? 

"It is needful to remember that God wills beforehand that all should be saved and come into His kingdom. Because He is a good God it was not for punishment that He shaped us, but to participate in His goodness. But because He is a just God, He wills that sinners are to be punished." (St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

"A judge justly punishes one who is guilty of wrongdoing; and if he does not punish him he is himself a wrongdoer. In punishing him the judge is not the cause either of the wrongdoing or of the vengeance taken against the wrongdoer, the cause being the wrongdoer's freely chosen actions." (St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

What Role Do Indulgences Have in Remitting Punishment?

"The Church by means of indulgences remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us from her spiritual treasury part of the infinite satisfaction of Jesus Christ and of the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints." (Baltimore Catechism)

Can Sins Be Forgiven Without Contrition? 

"God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it." (Baltimore Catechism)

Besides Contrition & Confession What Else Must Be Done Upon Committing Sin?

"So with regard to the soul, it is not enough that sin has been pardoned; the wound which it has left must also be healed by penance." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Every one who sins ought to pay back the honor of which he has robbed God; and this is the satisfaction which every sinner owes to God." (St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church)

"When shall we be made to understand that penance is a debt we owe to God, a debt of expiation for the sins we have committed against Him?" (Dom Gueranger)

"A man cannot be sure that his contrition suffices for the remission of both punishment and guilt: wherefore he is bound to confess and to make satisfaction, especially since his contrition would not be true contrition, unless he had the purpose of confessing united thereto: which purpose must also be carried into effect, on account of the precept given concerning confession." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Note that we also have a duty to make satisfaction to others whom we have injured.

What is an Occasion of Sin? 

"The near occasions of sin are all persons, places, or things that may easily lead us into sin." (Baltimore Catechism)

"By dangerous occasions of sin are meant all those circumstances of time, place, person, or things, which, of their very nature or because of our frailty, lead us to commit sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Are We Bound to Avoid Occasions of Sin?

"We are strictly bound to shun those dangerous occasions which ordinarily lead us to commit mortal sin, and which are called the proximate occasions of sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"That hope is deceitful which hopes to be saved amidst the occasions of sin." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Of all the counsels of Christ, one of the greatest, and so to say, the foundation of religion, is to fly the occasions of sin." (St. Bernardine of Siena)

What Means Especially Help Us Avoid Sin? 

"[I]t is an excellent thing to go to confession often, because the sacrament of Penance, besides taking away sin, gives the graces necessary to avoid sin in the future." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X) 

"We can keep from committing sin by praying and by receiving the sacraments; by remembering that God is always with us; by recalling that our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost; by keeping occupied with work or play; by promptly resisting the sources of sin within us; by avoiding the near occasions of sin." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The principal effects which the Most Holy Eucharist produces in those who worthily receive it are these: (1) It preserves and increases the life of the soul, which is grace, just as natural food sustains and increases the life of the body; (2) It remits venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin; (3) It produces spiritual consolation." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Is Simply Avoiding Sin Sufficient?

Q: "Is it enough only to avoid sin?" A: "No; we must also do good." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"To abstain from sinful actions is not sufficient for the fulfillment of God's law. The very desire of what is forbidden is evil." (St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle)

"No one is free of sin; but where good works prevail, sins are lightened, overshadowed, and covered up. On the day of judgment either our works will assist us or they will plunge us into the abyss, as if dragged down by a millstone." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

Are All Promised Repentance? 

"God has promised pardon to the one who repents, but he has not promised repentance to the one who sins." (St. Anselm of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church)

"Do not imitate those who deceive themselves by saying: 'I will sin and then go to confession.' How do you know that you will have time to make your confession? Is it not madness to wound oneself, in the hope that a doctor will be found who will heal the wound?" (St. John Bosco)

Is There Confession After Death? 

"Observe that on earth He forgives sins. For while we are on earth we can blot out our sins. But after that we are taken away from the earth, we shall not be able to confess, for the gate is shut." (St. Theophylact)

What is the Difference Between Sin and Vice? 

"Between sin and vice there is this difference that sin is a passing act, whereas vice is a bad habit, contracted by continually falling into some sin." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

When Are Bad Thoughts Sins? 

Q: "When is a bad thought a sin?" A: "Bad thoughts, even though resulting in no bad deed, are sins when we culpably entertain them, or consent to them, or expose ourselves to the proximate danger of consenting to them." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

Can Any Circumstance Make a Sin Licit? 

"No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church." (Pope John Paul II)

Can a Person Be Forced to Sin?

"For neither the devil nor anyone else can force me to commit a single deadly sin against my will. We can never be overcome unless we give up this armor and turn it over to the devil by our willing consent." (St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church)

Since God Loves Everyone, How Can it Be Said that He Hates Sinners?

"Nothing prevents one and the same thing being loved under one aspect, while it is hated under another. God loves sinners in so far as they are existing natures; for they have existence and have it from Him. In so far as they are sinners, they have not existence at all, but fall short of it; and this in them is not from God. Hence under this aspect, they are hated by Him." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

How Might Sins Be More or Less Grave? 

"The gravity of a sin can be considered in two ways: first, according to the species of that sin, secondly, according to its circumstances. And since particular circumstances are infinite in number, so too they can be varied in an infinite number of ways: wherefore if one were to ask in general which of two sins is the graver, the question must be understood to refer to the gravity derived from the sin's genus. Now the genus or species of a sin is taken from its object... Wherefore the sin which is opposed to the greater good is, in respect of its genus, more grievous, for instance a sin committed against God is graver than a sin committed against one's neighbor." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Other things being equal, an injury is a more grievous sin according as it affects more persons; and hence it is that it is a more grievous sin to strike or injure a person in authority than a private individual, because it conduces to the injury of the whole community... Now when an injury is inflicted on one who is connected in any way with another, that injury affects two persons, so that, other things being equal, the sin is aggravated by this very fact. It may happen, however, that in view of certain circumstances, a sin committed against one who is not connected with any other person, is more grievous, on account of either the dignity of the person, or the greatness of the injury." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

What Are the Six Sins Against the Holy Spirit?

The Six Sins Against the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) Are:

1. Presumption

2. Despair

3. Resisting the Known Truth

4. Envy of Another's Spiritual Good

5. Obstinacy in Sin

6. Final Impenitence

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

What Does it Mean that Sins Against the Holy Spirit Are Unforgivable?

"Against the background of what has been said so far, certain other words of Jesus, shocking and disturbing ones, become easier to understand. We might call them the words of 'unforgiveness.' They are reported for us by the Synoptics in connection with a particular sin which is called 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.' This is how they are reported in their three versions: Matthew: 'Whoever says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.' Mark: 'All sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.' Luke: 'Every one who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.' Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit unforgivable? How should this blasphemy be understood ? St. Thomas Aquinas replies that it is a question of a sin that is 'unforgivable by its very nature, insofar as it excludes the elements through which the forgiveness of sin takes place.' According to such an exegesis, 'blasphemy' does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross... Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is the sin committed by the person who claims to have a 'right' to persist in evil - in any sin at all - and who thus rejects Redemption. One closes oneself up in sin, thus making impossible one's conversion, and consequently the remission of sins, which one considers not essential or not important for one's life. This is a state of spiritual ruin, because blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not allow one to escape from one's self-imposed imprisonment and open oneself to the divine sources of the purification of consciences and of the remission of sins." (Pope John Paul II)

Note that all sins can be forgiven if the sinner truly repents.

What Are the Four Sins 'Crying to Heaven for Vengeance'?

The Four Sins 'Crying to Heaven for Vengeance' Are:

1. Willful Murder 

2. The Sin of Sodom 

3. Oppression of the Poor 

4. Defrauding Laborers of Their Wages

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

What Are the Seven Capital Sins ('Deadly Sins')?

The Seven Capital Sins ('Deadly Sins') Are:

1. Pride

2. Covetousness 

3. Lust 

4. Anger 

5. Gluttony 

6. Envy 

7. Sloth

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

In What Ways Can One be an Accessory to Another's Sin?

There are a variety of ways of being an accessory to another's sin, including: 

* By counsel

* By command

* By consent

* By provocation

* By praise or flattery

* By concealment

* By being a partner in the sin

* By defending the ill done

* By providing the sinner refuge from justice

* By silence

Ref.: Catholic Dictionary, A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

What Are the Chief Sources of Sin (Vices) and What Are Their Contrary Virtues?

"The chief sources of sin are [the following seven vices] and they are commonly called capital (deadly) sins." Their contrary virtue appears at right.

Vice Contrary Virtue
Pride Humility
Covetousness Liberality
Lust Chastity
Anger Meekness
Gluttony Temperance
Envy Brotherly Love
Sloth Diligence

Ref.: Baltimore Catechism, A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

Can the Church Forgive All Sins?

"For there is no sin, however great or horrible, which cannot be effaced by the Sacrament of Penance, and that not merely once, but over and over again." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Q: "Can the Church forgive every sort of sin?" A: "Yes, the Church can forgive all sins, no matter how many or how grave they may be, because Jesus Christ has given her full power to bind and to loose." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

How Does the Church Forgive Sin?

"The priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins by hearing the confession of sins, and granting pardon for them as ministers of God and in His name." (Baltimore Catechism)

Note: This power of forgiving sins was granted to the Church by Jesus Christ and through his merits. For additional information, visit the Sacraments Section.

Does the Sacrament of Penance Remit All Punishment Due to Sin?

"The Sacrament of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for our sins... God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin, to teach us the great evil of sin and to prevent us from falling again" (Baltimore Catechism)

"Two punishments are due to actual sins: one, called the eternal, is inflicted in hell; and the other, called the temporal, is inflicted in this world or in purgatory. The Sacrament of Penance remits or frees us from the eternal punishment and generally only from part of the temporal. Prayer, good works, and indulgences in this world and the sufferings of purgatory in the next remit the remainder of the temporal punishment." (Baltimore Catechism)

"...sin carries in its train two evils, the stain and the punishment. Whenever the stain is effaced, the punishment of eternal death is forgiven with the guilt to which it was due; yet, as the Council of Trent declares, the remains of sin and the temporal punishment are not always remitted. Of this the Scriptures afford many conspicuous examples..." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"According to the holy Doctors, for every mortal sin a man is obliged by God to seven years of penance in this world, or the equivalent in purgatory; the reason being that every mortal sin is an offense against the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost." (St. Vincent Ferrer)

Which Are the Chief Means by Which We Satisfy God For the Temporal Punishment Due to Sin?

"The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life." (Baltimore Catechism)

Note: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsdeeds are Sometimes referred to as "Eminent Good Works"

What Should One Do When Tempted to Sin?

"When I find myself tempted to sin I should make the sign of the cross on my heart, and call on God as earnestly as I can, saying, 'Lord, save me, or I perish.'" [A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")]

"Sin is ever to be shunned, but the assaults of sin should be overcome, sometimes by flight, sometimes by resistance; by flight when a continued thought increases the incentive to sin, as in lust; for which reason it is written (1 Corinthians 6:18): 'Fly fornication'; by resistance, when perseverance in the thought diminishes the incentive to sin, which incentive arises from some trivial consideration. This is the case with sloth, because the more we think about spiritual goods, the more pleasing they become to us, and forthwith sloth dies away." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Increase Holiness Section

Why Does the Devil Tempt Us to Sin?

"The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself has lost." (Baltimore Catechism)

"At the sight of our sins a God is seized with painful disquiet, and we remain calm. A God is sad over our sins, and we take pleasure therein. A God sweats blood for our sins, and we never shed a tear. We sin and, instead of hesitating and trembling, we think, perhaps, 'I have sinned and what harm hath befallen me?' At the sight of our sins a God-Man writhes in agony, and we, perhaps, live on in a dreadful torpor which is an insult to the agony of Christ, in a false security, which, in a way, is more terrible than sin itself. We, perhaps, shall slumber on in utter blindness until that hour in which the voice of the eternal Judge will awaken us. Oh, dreadful moment in which the Redeemer, now mute and patient in the Garden of Olives, burdened down with the mountain of our sins, will unsheathe before the sinner the flaming sword of vengeance! Oh, dreadful moment, in which the same Redeemer, who now sheds His blood for our sins, will demand of the sinner an account of the blood shed in vain!" (Fr. Groenings)

"Sin is the executioner of the good God, and the assassin of the soul. It snatches us away from Heaven to precipitate us into Hell. And we love it! What folly! If we thought seriously about it, we should have such a lively horror of sin that we could not commit it. O my children, how ungrateful we are! The good God wishes to make us happy; that is very certain; He gave us His Law for no other end. The Law of God is great; it is broad. King David said that he found his delight in it, and that it was a treasure more precious to him than the greatest riches. He said also that he walked at large, because he had sought after the Commandments of the Lord. The good God wishes, then, to make us happy, and we do not wish to be so. We turn away from Him, and give ourselves to the devil! We fly from our Friend, and we seek after our murderer! We commit sin; we plunge ourselves into the mire. Once sunk in this mire, we know not how to get out. If our fortune were in the case, we should soon find out how to get out of the difficulty; but because it only concerns our soul, we stay where we are" (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"My children, we are afraid of death; I can well believe it. It is sin that makes us afraid of death; it is sin that renders death frightful, formidable; it is sin that terrifies the wicked at the hour of the fearful passage. Alas! O God! there is reason enough to be terrified, to think that one is accursed - accursed of God! It makes one tremble. Accursed of God! and why? for what do men expose themselves to be accursed of God? For a blasphemy, for a bad thought, for a bottle of wine, for two minutes of pleasure! For two minutes of pleasure to lose God, one's soul, Heaven forever! We shall see going up to Heaven, in body and soul, that father, that mother, that sister, that neighbor, who were here with us, with whom we have lived, but whom we have not imitated; while we shall go down body and soul to burn in Hell. The devils will rush to overwhelm us. All the devils whose advice we followed will come to torment us. My children, if you saw a man prepare a great pile of wood, heaping up fagots one upon another, and when you asked him what he was doing, he were to answer you, 'I am preparing the fire that is to burn me,' what would you think? And if you saw this same man set fire to the pile, and when it was lighted throw himself upon it, what would you say? This is what we do when we commit sin." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"He who commits sin does what is not pleasing to God; but he who repents of his sins, does what is most pleasing to Him." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church)

"From the sufferings and death of Christ we learn God's love for man and the evil of sin, for which God, who is all-just, demands such great satisfaction." (Baltimore Catechism)


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