Friday, January 5, 2007

Venial Sin*

1. Next to mortal sin, the greatest of all evils is venial sin. Sin is always an offence against the God of goodness. When we sin, we place our own will above His and put Him in a position secondary to ourselves. If mortal sin is spiritual suicide because it exstinguishes in us the divine life of grace, venial sin is an injury, more or less grave, to the soul. The former completely separates us from God; the latter moves us farther away from Him. Mortal sin means the death of the soul. Venial sin is a disease of the soul which reduces its supernatural powers and leaves it more open to the ever-increasing attractions of evil.

We cannot speak of small sins, as if sin could be a triviality. Sin is always something great and terrible, because it is an offence against our Creator and Redeemer, whom we should love, honour and serve with every impulse of our heart and with the whole strength of our will. It is the height of ingratitude, because in order to offend God we make use of the gifts He has given us --- our eyes, ears, speech and all our powers of soul and body.

Let us think seriously about this. We must firmly resolve to be more vigilant so that with the grace of God we may avoid ever committing a deliberate venial sin.

2. There is another motive which obliges us carefully to avoid ever committing a venial sin. The path of sin leads us down a smooth and slippery incline towards destruction. Once we begin to descend it is difficult to stop. Even to begin is a disaster:

He who wastes the little he has will be stripped bare. (Eccles. 19:1)
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much;
and he who is unjust in a very little thing is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)

Whoever is faithful to God in little things, will receive from Him the grace to remain faithful also in greater things, but a man who despises the lesser falls rejects the divine assistance and so exposes himself to the danger of falling more seriously. If we reflect on such dangers, we shall have a real fear of venial sin and shall be always on our gurad against it.

3. The Gospel tells us that we must render an account of every idle word, and that nothing tarnished can be admitted into the splendour of Paradise. In the terrible torments of Purgatory we must pay the full price for all our faults, even the slightest. The thought of such fearful punishment should frighten us, but the love of God should keep us far from all shadow of sin. We read of some of the saints that throughout their lives they wept at the mere remembrance of their slightest negligence. If we loved God truly, we should shun the least suggestion of sin.

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