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Reflections: Catholic Basics Section (Sin/Sinner)


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Catholic Basics Section:

Sin / Sinner

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Sin / Sinner



Also See: Sin (Topic Page)

"In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin." (Sirach 7:36)

"Delay not to forsake sins, neglect it not till you are in distress." (Sirach 18:21)

"Flee from sin as from a serpent. that will bite you if you go near it; Its teeth are lion's teeth, destroying the souls of men." (Sirach 21:2)

"She [the Blessed Virgin Mary] will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Angel to St. Joseph, Mt. 1:21)

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 5:29) [Reminder: Interpretation and application of Scripture should not be contrary to the perennial, official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Do not take Scripture passages out of context. Do not inflict harm on yourself or others, break laws, take unsuitable/incautious or inappropriate/drastic actions, or take figurative items literally.]

"Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:7)

"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 18:15-17)

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 17:3-4)

"Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 8:34)

"How can we who died to sin yet live in it?" (Rom. 6:2)

"Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:11-16)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)

"This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tm. 1:15)

"If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries." (Heb. 10:26-27)

"So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin." (Jms. 4:17)

"My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." (Jms. 5:19-20)

"He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls." (1 Pt. 2:24-25) 

"If we say, 'We are without sin,' we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 Jn. 1:8)

"My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world."  (1 Jn. 2:1-2)

"Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him. Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. In this way, the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother." (1 Jn. 3:4-10)

"Death, but not sin!" (St. Dominic Savio)

"I will fear only one evil - sin." (Bl. John Martin Moye)

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

"[S] the death of the soul" (Dom Gueranger)

"...sin can never pass unpunished." (Dom Gueranger)

"One sin cannot excuse another sin." (St. John Vianney)

"...where there is sin, there must be expiation." (Dom Gueranger)

"It would be better to eschew sin than to flee death." (Kempis)

"The end of sin is death." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Had we not sinned, God would not have wept." (Dom Gueranger)

"We have only one evil to fear, and that is sin." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"Prosperous sinners fare worst of all in the end." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

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

"[T]he sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin" (Pope Pius XII)

"The angels sin, and are cast into Hell." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

Q: "Which is the greatest evil in the world?" A: "Sin." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

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

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

"See, my children, a person who is in a state of sin is always sad." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

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

"When we are in sin, our soul is all diseased, all rotten; it is pitiful." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

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

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

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

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

"Sin is separation from God and an alienation from love." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

"To be a sinner is our distress, but to know it is our hope." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

"Your sins could never be stronger than God's willingness to forgive."

"Every sin is more injury to him who does than to him who suffers it." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[E]very kind of human sin can be reached by God's saving power" (Pope John Paul II)

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

"...sin is madness, for it exposes the soul to fall into infinite misery" (Dom Gueranger)

"Sin, in all its forms, is the deliberate eviction of Love form the soul" (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

"We avoid the eyes of men to commit sin, yet we do it in God's presence." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

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

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

"The closer one approaches to almighty God, the greater sinner one realizes oneself."

"The very pleasures of sin become the instruments of punishment in the hands of God." (Pope Innocent III)

"The peace of Christ can establish itself only where people are prepared to rid themselves of sin." (Pope John Paul II)

"It is morally impossible for him who neglects mediation to live without sin." (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church)

"Whatever sins I have avoided committing, I owe it to Thy grace." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Even though I had committed but one little sin, I should have ample reason to repent of it all my life." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Sin is a suppurating wound; punishment is the surgeon's knife." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"...sin [is] the greatest of all the evils that can befall us, because it is an evil which strikes at God Himself." (Dom Gueranger)

"[I]t remains in our power to sin or not to sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Q: "Why is sin the greatest evil in the world?" A: "Because it offends God, and hurts the soul." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"By sin, my children, we rebel against the good God, we despise His justice, we tread under foot His blessings." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"We must firmly resolve with the grace of God to avoid every sin and every dangerous occasion, and to lead a good life." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"God requires temporal punishment for sin to satisfy His justice, to teach us the great evil of sin, and to warn us not to sin again." (Baltimore Catechism)

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)

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

"As the sun alone cannot make a flower expand if it is already dead, so the grace of the good God cannot bring us back to life if we will not abandon sin." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"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)

"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)

"The saints understood how great an outrage sin is against God. Some of them passed their lives in weeping for their sins." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"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)

"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)

"[A]lthough sin is temporal in act, it is eternal in will." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"A man sins not only by willing bad ends by willing bad actions." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[E]ternity of punishment does not correspond to the quantity of the sin" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A] sin not at once taken away by repentance, by its weight drags us down to other sins" (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"It is certain that, if I had sinned less, Thou, my Jesus, wouldst have suffered less." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"Holy Scripture clearly teaches that these scourges of God are provoked by the sins of men" (Bl. Pope Pius IX, "Cum Nuper", 1858 A.D.)

"Have you begun to stop trying to defend your sins? Then you have made a beginning of righteousness." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"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)

"Where is the foolish person who would think it is in his power to commit a sin more than God could forgive?" (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Sin is the enemy of the soul; it throws her back again into that death whence Jesus had drawn her by his Resurrection." (Dom Gueranger)

"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)

"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)

"The evil consequences of sin are hard, trying, and bitter to bear, and will necessarily accompany men even to the end of life." (Pope Leo XIII)

"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)

"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)

"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)

"[N]obody guilty of blasphemy can be absolved without a heavy penance imposed by the decision of a strict confessor." (Fifth Lateran Council)

"There are three elements by which the process of sinning is completed: suggestion, delectation, and consent." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"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.)

"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)

"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)

"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)

"The sinner offends this his Benefactor, abusing His gifts; and taking advantage of His goodness becomes more hardened in sin day by day." (Pope Leo XIII, "Divinum Illud Munus", 1897 A.D.)

"Man is able by himself to fall into sin, but he cannot by himself arise from sin without the help of grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"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)

"[O]ne may sin through certain malice, by contemptuously rejecting the things whereby a man is withdrawn from sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"To say that you do not commit sin, because you have no opportunity of sinning, is almost to acknowledge that you are always prepared to sin when opportunity offers." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

" is for sinners that he came, that he might save them: it was with sinners that he so humbly conversed, and at last gave himself to sinners, that he might be their food." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

"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)

"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)

"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)

"When we say 'and lead us not into temptation,' we pray that God will always give us the grace to overcome the temptations to sin which come to us from the world, the flesh, and the devil." (Baltimore Catechism)

"[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)

"The same reason, then, which prompts us to confess that God is to be loved above all things, obliges us also of necessity to acknowledge that sin is to be hated above all things." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[C]hildren, it is sin that brings upon us all calamities, all scourges, war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fires, frost, hail, storms - all that afflicts us, all that makes us miserable." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"We commit sin because of one of two reasons: either we do not as yet see what we ought to do, or we do not do what we know ought to be done. The first of these is the evil of ignorance; the latter, that of weakness." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"For sin is not natural nor is it implanted in us by the Creator, but it is shown afterwards by the devil in the voluntary exercise of our free choice, not prevailing upon us by force." (St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church, c. 8th century A.D.)

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)

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)

"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)

"If sin could destroy your fortune or your reputation, you would not commit it; and because it exposes you only to the anger of God, to the rigor of his judgment, you commit it without fear, as if you had nothing to dread from his justice." (St. Ignatius Loyola)

"Satan enchains us through the seven capital vices, rendering us slaves in his kingdom of darkness. The most terrifying diabolical possession is that which is realized through becoming familiarized with sin. The more one sins, the more the image of the evil one lives in him." (Fr. Fanzaga)

"Two kinds of punishment are due to sin: the eternal punishment of hell, due to unforgiven mortal sins, and temporal punishment, lasting only for a time, due to venial sins and also to mortal sins after they have been forgiven." (Baltimore Catechism)

"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)

"Now it is worse to sin in public than in private, both because a public sinner seems to sin more from contempt, and because by sinning he gives scandal to others." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history 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)

"The greatest obstacle to man's journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin, and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of the whole of man's earthly activity. The rejection of God by man." (Pope John Paul II)

"In this life, men who are in sin retain the possibility of obtaining everlasting happiness: not so those who are lost in hell, who, in this respect, are in the same case as the demons." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"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)

"No one has anything of his own except lying and sin. But if man has any truth and justice, it is from that fountain for which we ought to thirst in this desert, that bedewed by some drops of water from it, we may not falter on the way." (St. Prosper / Council of Orange II, 529 A.D.)

"[M]an is reckoned to be good or bad chiefly according to the pleasure of the human will; since that man is good and virtuous, who takes pleasure in the works of virtue; and that man evil, who takes pleasure in evil works." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Theologians hold that in fact no deliberate act is morally neutral: if directed to God by grace than it is meritorious; if it cannot be so directed it is sin; if it is not directed then it is vanity, which amounts to sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The affections of the heart are more acceptable to God than external acts. Now man is absolved from both punishment and guilt by means of external actions; and therefore he is also by means of the heart's affections, such as contrition is." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"You aught not to become secure about your sins, except on the last day of your life when you are no longer able to bewail them. But until that day comes, you ought, ever suspicious and fearful, to be afraid of faults and wash them away with daily tears." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

"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)

"What more wicked, what more detestable than to hate God, the supreme goodness and sovereign truth? This, however, is the crime of all sinners; for as he that hath God's commandments and keepeth them, loveth God (John xiv. 21), so he who despises His law and violates His Commandments, is justly said to hate God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"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)

"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.)

"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 time of our greatest need, that is, when in danger of death." (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X)

"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.)

"...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)

"Although sins, when committed, were voluntary, yet when we are contrite for them, they are no longer voluntary, so that they occur against our will; not indeed in respect of the will that we had when we consented to them, but in respect of that which we have now, so as to wish they had never been." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"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.)

"Everyone who sins dies. Every man fears the death of the flesh, few the death of the soul. In regard to the death of the flesh, which without a doubt must someday come, all guard against its coming: that is the reason for their labors. Man, destined to die, labors to avert his dying; and yet man, destined to live in eternity, does not labor to avoid sinning." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Sin arises simply from loving what God hates and hating what God loves. So if you love the passing things of this world and love yourself with a sensual love, you sin. For this is what God hates; in fact, it so displeases him that he willed to work out vengeance and punishment for it upon his own body. He made himself an anvil, and on this anvil hammered out our sins." (St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church)

"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")

"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")

"Every actual sin is caused by our will not yielding to God's law, either by transgressing it, or by omitting it, or by acting beside it: and since a hard thing is one that is disposed not to give way easily, hence it is that a certain hardness of the will is to be found in every actual sin. Wherefore, if a sin is to be remedied, it needs to be taken away by contrition which crushes it." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There are two sides to very sin, the turning to transient satisfaction and the turning away from everlasting value. As regards the first, the principle of all sins can be called lust - lust in its most general sense, namely, the unbridled desire for one's own pleasure. As regards the second, the principle is pride, pride in its general sense, the lack of submission to God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For sin is committed the moment the soul, yielding to the impulse of corrupt desires, is pleased with evil things, and either consents to, or does not resist them, as St. James, pointing out the beginning and progress of sin, teaches when he says: Every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured; then, when concupiscence hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; but sin, when it is completed, begetteth death." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

" 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.)

"We come face to face with sin which is a perversion of human freedom and the profound cause of death because it involves detachment from God, the source of life. And then sin in its turn becomes the occasion and the effect of interference in us and our work by a dark, hostile agent, the Devil. Evil is not merely an absence of something but an active force, a living, spiritual being that is perverted and that perverts others. It is a terrible reality, mysterious and frightening." (Pope Paul VI, 1972)

"[A] sin is not less grievous in a believer than in an unbeliever, but much more so. For the sins of an unbeliever are more deserving of forgiveness, on account of their ignorance, according to 1 Timothy 1:13: 'I obtained the mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly in my unbelief': whereas the sins of believers are more grievous on account of the sacraments of grace, according to Hebrews 10:29: 'How much more, do you think, he deserveth worse punishments... who hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified?'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"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")

"[A]s Scripture has it - and experience teaches us no less - sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and he who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker's soul. And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgement day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offence" (Pope Innocent IV, "Quae Honorem Conditoris Omnium", 1247 A.D.)

"Isaiah, setting forth the devil under the figure of the prince of Babylon, says, How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Ezekiel says, You have been in Eden, the garden of God. Which passages, as they cannot be interpreted in any other way, show that we must take the word, He stood not in the truth, to mean, that he was in truth, but did not remain in it; and the other, that the devil sins from the beginning, to mean, that he was a sinner not from the beginning of his creation, but from the beginning of sin. For sin began in him, and he was the beginning of sin." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Man began to sin by the very fact that he separated himself from God. For it is written that 'the beginning of pride is to fall away from God'; and in another place: 'Behold, all who go far from You, shall perish; you have destroyed all who fornicated themselves away from You.' Those, therefore, who go away from God and commit fornication perish forthwith by sinning of their own evil will, which is not God's doing. But God destroys them by judging them justly, which is God's part. For God would not destroy them by His judgment unless the had themselves perished by their own iniquities." (St. Fulgence of Ruspe, 6th century A.D.)

"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")

"The just sin not easily out of contempt; but sometimes they fall into a sin through ignorance or weakness from which they easily arise. If, however, they go so far as to sin out of contempt, they become most wicked and incorrigible, according to the word of Jeremiah 2:20: 'Thou hast broken My yoke, thou hast burst My bands, and thou hast said: I will not serve. For on every high hill and under every green tree thou didst prostitute thyself.' Hence Augustine says (Ep. 78 ad Pleb. Hippon.): 'From the time I began to serve God, even as I scarcely found better men than those who made progress in monasteries, so have I not found worse than those who in the monastery have fallen.'" (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")

"[A] sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment, in so far as it causes an irreparable disorder in the order of Divine justice, through being contrary to the very principle of that order, viz. the last end. Now it is evident that in some sins there is disorder indeed, but such as not to involve contrariety in respect of the last end, but only in respect of things referable to the end, in so far as one is too much or too little intent on them without prejudicing the order to the last end: as, for instance, when a man is too fond of some temporal thing, yet would not offend God for its sake, by breaking one of His commandments. Consequently such sins do not incur everlasting, but only temporal punishment." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For when man's heart is not so fixed on God as to be unwilling to be parted from Him for the sake of finding any good or avoiding any evil, many things happen for the achieving or avoiding of which a man strays from God and breaks His commandments, and thus sins mortally: especially since, when surprised, a man acts according to his preconceived end and his pre-existing habits, as the Philosopher says (Ethica Nicomachea iii); although with premeditation of his reason a man may do something outside the order of his preconceived end and the inclination of his habit. But because a man cannot always have this premeditation, it cannot help occurring that he acts in accordance with his will turned aside from God, unless, by grace, he is quickly brought back to the due order." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Pardon us, O Lord, pardon us. We beg to shift the blame for our sins, we make excuses. But no one can hide from the light of your truth, which both enlightens those who turn to it and exposes those who turn away. Even our blood and our bones are visible to you, who created us out of dust. How foolish we are to think that we can rule our own lives, satisfying our own desires, without thought of you. How stupid we are to imagine that we can keep our sins hidden. But although we may deceive other people, we cannot deceive you, and since you also see into our hearts, we cannot deceive ourselves, for your light reveals to us our own spiritual corruption. Let us, therefore, fall down before you, weeping with tears of shame. May your judgment give new shape to our souls. May your power mold our hearts to reflect your love. May your grace infuse our minds, so that our thoughts reflect your will." (Abbot William of Saint Thierry)

"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 always a folly and a weakness, no matter of what kind it may be, or who he be that commits it. The rebel angel, and fallen man, may, in their pride, make efforts to persuade themselves that, when they sinned, they did not act as fools, and were not weak; but all their efforts are in vain; sin must ever have this disgrace upon it, that it is folly and weakness, for it is a revolt against God, a contempt for His law, a mad act of the creature, who, being made by his Creator to attain infinite happiness and glory, prefers to debase himself by turning towards nothingness, and then falls even lower than the nothingness from which he was taken. It is, however, a folly that is voluntary, and a weakness that has no excuse; for although the creature have nothing of his own but darkness and misery, yet his infinitely merciful Creator, by means of His grace, which is never wanting, puts within that creature's reach divine strength and light. It is so with even the sinner that has been the least liberally gifted; he has no reason that can justify his offences." (Liturgical Year)

"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... It is said that many confess, and few are converted. I believe it is so, my children, because few confess with tears of repentance." (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)

"By sin, man loses a twofold dignity, one in respect of God, the other in respect of the Church. In respect of God he again loses a twofold dignity. One is his principal dignity, whereby he was counted among the children of God, and this he recovers by Penance, which is signified (Luke 15) in the prodigal son, for when he repented, his father commanded that the first garment should be restored to him, together with a ring and shoes. The other is his secondary dignity, viz. innocence, of which, as we read in the same chapter, the elder son boasted saying (Luke 15:29): 'Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandments': and this dignity the penitent cannot recover. Nevertheless he recovers something greater sometimes; because as Gregory says (Hom. de centum Ovibus, Hom. 34 in Evangelia), 'those who acknowledge themselves to have strayed away from God, make up for their past losses, by subsequent gains: so that there is more joy in heaven on their account, even as in battle, the commanding officer thinks more of the soldier who, after running away, returns and bravely attacks the foe, than of one who has never turned his back, but has done nothing brave.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There is a difference between a sin committed by one who has the habit, and a sin committed by habit: for it is not necessary to use a habit, since it is subject to the will of the person who has that habit. Hence habit is defined as being 'something we use when we will'... And thus, even as it may happen that one who has a vicious habit may break forth into a virtuous act, because a bad habit does not corrupt reason altogether, something of which remains unimpaired, the result being that a sinner does some works which are generically good; so too it may happen sometimes that one who has a vicious habit, acts, not from that habit, but through the uprising of a passion, or again through ignorance. But whenever he uses the vicious habit he must needs sin through certain malice: because to anyone that has a habit, whatever is befitting to him in respect of that habit, has the aspect of something lovable, since it thereby becomes, in a way, connatural to him, according as custom and habit are a second nature. Now the very thing which befits a man in respect of a vicious habit, is something that excludes a spiritual good: the result being that a man chooses a spiritual evil, that he may obtain possession of what befits him in respect of that habit: and this is to sin through certain malice. Wherefore it is evident that whoever sins through habit, sins through certain malice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Since every sin is voluntary, ignorance can diminish sin, in so far as it diminishes its voluntariness; and if it does not render it less voluntary, it nowise alleviates the sin. Now it is evident that the ignorance which excuses from sin altogether (through making it altogether involuntary) does not diminish a sin, but does away with it altogether. On the other hand, ignorance which is not the cause of the sin being committed, but is concomitant with it, neither diminishes nor increases the sin. Therefore sin cannot be alleviated by any ignorance, but only by such as is a cause of the sin being committed, and yet does not excuse from the sin altogether. Now it happens sometimes that such like ignorance is directly and essentially voluntary, as when a man is purposely ignorant that he may sin more freely, and ignorance of this kind seems rather to make the act more voluntary and more sinful, since it is through the will's intention to sin that he is willing to bear the hurt of ignorance, for the sake of freedom in sinning. Sometimes, however, the ignorance which is the cause of a sin being committed, is not directly voluntary, but indirectly or accidentally...and this ignorance diminishes voluntariness and consequently alleviates the sin. For when a thing is not known to be a sin, the will cannot be said to consent to the sin directly, but only accidentally; wherefore, in that case there is less contempt, and therefore less sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Christ, God and Redeemer, as far as it pertained to the riches of His goodness, offered the price of death for all, and because He, who is the Savior of all, especially of the faithful, does not wish anyone to perish, rich unto all who call upon him [Rom. 10:12]... Now by the authority of the sacred witnesses, which are found in great profusion through the extent of the Divine Scriptures, in accordance with the doctrine of our elders made clear by reason, I freely confess that Christ came also for the lost, because they perished although He did not will [it]. For it is not right that the riches of His boundless goodness and His divine benefits be confined to those only who seem to have been saved. For if we say that Christ extended assistance only to those who have been redeemed, we shall seem to absolve the unredeemed, who, it is established, had to be punished for having despised redemption. I declare further that by reason and through the regular succession of the centuries some have been saved by the law of grace, others by the law of Moses, others by the law of nature, which God has written in the hearts of all, in the expectation of the coming of Christ; nevertheless from the beginning of the world, they were not set free from the original slavery except by the intercession of the sacred blood. I acknowledge, too, that the eternal fires and the infernal flames have been prepared in advance for capital deeds, because divine judgment, which they deservedly incur, who have not believed these [truths] with their whole heart, justly follows those who persist in human sins." (Council of Arles, Letter of Submission of Lucidus, c. 475 A.D.) 

"You will begin most appropriately, and with hope of the greatest profit, to recall men to the observance of the holy law of fasting, if you teach the people this: penance for the Christian man is not satisfied by withdrawing from sin, by detesting a past life badly lived, or by the sacramental confession of these same sins. Rather, penance also demands that we satisfy divine justice with fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and other works of the spiritual life. Every wrongdoing - be it large or small - is fittingly punished, either by the penitent or by a vengeful God. Therefore we cannot avoid God's punishment in any other way than by punishing ourselves. If this teaching is constantly implanted in the minds of the faithful, and if they drink deeply of it, there will be very little cause to fear that those who have discarded their degraded habits and washed their sins clean through sacramental confession would not want to expiate the same sins through fasting, to eliminate the concupiscence of the flesh. Besides, consider the man who is convinced that he repents of his sins more firmly when he does not allow himself to go unpunished. That man, already consumed with the love of penance, will rejoice during the season of Lent and on certain other days, when the Church declares that the faithful should fast and gives them the opportunity to bring forth worthy fruits of penance. After all, it is always necessary to subdue concupiscence, for it is written, 'Do not follow behind your desires, and do not turn away from your will.' Let the faithful easily turn their attention during this most holy time of year to lessening the intemperance of the body by fasting. In this way the soul might understand how it should prepare itself to recall the holy mysteries of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Pope Clement XIII, "Appetente Sacro", 1759 A.D.)

"[T]he primary gravity of a sin is derived from its object; so that a sin is deemed to be so much the more grave, as its object is a more principal end. But the principal ends of human acts are God, man himself, and his neighbor: for whatever we do, it is on account of one of these that we do it; although one of them is subordinate to the other. Therefore the greater or lesser gravity of a sin, in respect of the person sinned against, may be considered on the part of these three. First, on the part of God, to Whom man is the more closely united, as he is more virtuous or more sacred to God: so that an injury inflicted on such a person redounds on to God according to Zechariah 2:8: 'He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of My eye.' Wherefore a sin is the more grievous, according as it is committed against a person more closely united to God by reason of personal sanctity, or official station. On the part of man himself, it is evident that he sins all the more grievously, according as the person against whom he sins, is more united to him, either through natural affinity or kindness received or any other bond; because he seems to sin against himself rather than the other, and, for this very reason, sins all the more grievously, according to Ecclesiasticus 14:5: 'He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good?' On the part of his neighbor, a man sins the more grievously, according as his sin affects more persons: so that a sin committed against a public personage, e.g. a sovereign prince who stands in the place of the whole people, is more grievous than a sin committed against a private person; hence it is expressly prohibited (Exodus 22:28): 'The prince of thy people thou shalt not curse.' In like manner it would seem that an injury done to a person of prominence, is all the more grave, on account of the scandal and the disturbance it would cause among many people." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is written (Deuteronomy 25:2): 'According to the measure of the sin, shall the measure also of the stripes be.' Now, in contrition, the stripes are measured according to the sins, because to contrition is united the purpose of making satisfaction. Therefore contrition should be for one sin more than for another. Further, man should be contrite for that which he ought to have avoided. But he ought to avoid one sin more than another, if that sin is more grievous... Therefore, in like manner, he ought to be more sorry for one, viz. the more grievous, than for the other... We may speak of contrition in two ways: first, in so far as it corresponds to each single sin, and thus, as regards the sorrow in the higher appetite, a man ought to be more sorry for a more grievous sin, because there is more reason for sorrow, viz. the offense against God, in such a sin than in another, since the more inordinate the act is, the more it offends God. In like manner, since the greater sin deserves a greater punishment, the sorrow also of the sensitive part, in so far as it is voluntarily undergone for sin, as the punishment thereof, ought to be greater where the sin is greater. But in so far as the emotions of the lower appetite result from the impression of the higher appetite, the degree of sorrow depends on the disposition of the lower faculty to the reception of impressions from the higher faculty, and not on the greatness of the sin. Secondly, contrition may be taken in so far as it is directed to all one's sins together, as in the act of justification. Such contrition arises either from the consideration of each single sin, and thus although it is but one act, yet the distinction of the sins remains virtually therein; or, at least, it includes the purpose of thinking of each sin; and in this way too it is habitually more for one than for another." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"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)

Also See: Mortal Sin | Mortal / Venial Sin | Original Sin | Venial Sin | The Church Can Forgive All Sin (Coming Home Reflections) | Sin / Repentance / Forgiveness (Coming Home Reflections) | Sin & Vice (Catholic Life Reflections) | Sin & Vice (Q & A) | Penance / Confession (Sacraments Reflections) | Penance / Confession (Sacraments Section) | Now is the Time for Repentance | Penance | Repentance | Commandments | Concupiscence | Forgiveness | Indulgences | The Passion | Sacraments Section Reflections | Prayers: Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance | Evil / Satan | Judgment | Hell / Eternal Damnation | Purgatory | Tough Love in the New Testament | Sin (Topical Scripture) 

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