56 – Some people say that sin is an offence to God…

It’s normal to be afraid of being bitten by a snake, whose deadly poison kills in just a few minutes. This is especially true in places where such a danger is a reality and not just a remote possibility: one walks through the natural habitat of these perilous creatures with redoubled attention to any suspicious movement….and if possible one even tries to avoid such places.

However, few are those who fear an incomparably more lethal species, whose sting causes a tremendouly more grave death – that of the soul, separating one from God for all eternity! We are speaking about sin. Yes sin, whose gravity is such that numerous saints and spiritual authors felt the need to expound upon it with perfect clarity, so as to avoid any vague expressions that could be used as by our human tendency — so typical in our fallen nature — to pay less attention to the realities of the life to come.

That’s why it seems timely to recall some important points of the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church on this topic.

Francis

papa-francisco-vuela-el-solileo

Quote A

The Church is the great family of God’s children. Of course, she also has human aspects. In those who make up the Church, pastors and faithful, there are shortcomings, imperfections and sins. The Pope has these too — and many of them; but what is beautiful is that when we realize we are sinners we encounter the mercy of God who always forgives. Never forget it: God always pardons and receives us into his love of forgiveness and mercy. Some people say that sin is an offence to God, but also an opportunity to humble oneself so as to realize that there is something else more beautiful: God’s mercy. (General Audience, May 29, 2013)

Quote B

Hope is a Christian virtue that we have as a great gift of the Lord and that makes us see far, beyond problems, pain and difficulties, beyond our sins. It shows us the beauty of God. When I meet with a person who has the virtue of hope, and is going through a difficult moment in his life ‒ be it a sickness or a preoccupation about a son or daughter or someone of the family or whatever else ‒ and he has this virtue, in the midst of sorrow he has a penetrating eye, he has the freedom to see beyond, always beyond. And this is hope. And this is the prophesy that the Church gives us today: there are a lack of women and men of hope, also during problems. Hope opens horizons, hope is free, it is not a slave, it always finds a means to fix a situation. In the Gospel (Mt 21: 23-27) the chiefs of the priests ask Jesus with what authority he acted. They do not have horizons, they are men closed in on their own calculations, slaves of their own rigidness. Human calculations close the heart, close us to freedom, while hope makes us light. How beautiful is the freedom, the magnanimity, the hope of a man and woman of the Church! On the other hand, how awful and how much detriment the rigidity of a woman or man within the Church brings, clerical rigidity, that has no hope. In this Year of Mercy, there are two paths: those who have hope in the mercy of God and know that God is Father, that God always pardons and pardons all, that beyond the desert is the embrace of the Father, pardon. And then are those who refuge in their slavery, their rigidity, and don’t know anything about the mercy of God. These were the doctors, they had studied, but their knowledge did not save them. (Homily in Santa Marta, December 14, 2015)

Quote C

What would you respond to those who, even among Christians, think that mercy loosens the claws of justice, and, therefore, is unjust; to those who think that mercy cannot be the response to – for example- those who persecute us or perhaps due to an unjustified fear, construct walls to defend themselves instead of bridges?
[Francis] Yes, ultimately there exists the problem of moral rigidity, right? The older son was morally rigid: “He spent the money on a life of sin, so he can’t be received like this”. Rigidity: always in the place of the judge. This rigidity is not of Jesus. Jesus reprehended the doctors of the Church: he was very, very much against rigidity. He used an adjective for them that I would not like to be used for me: hypocrite. How many times did Jesus use this adjective for the Doctors of the Law: hypocrites. It’s enough to read Matthew, chapter 23: “Hypocrite.” And they theorize, mercy yes…but justice is important. In God – and among Christians because they are in God – justice is merciful and mercy is just. They cannot be separated: they are one thing. And how can this be explained? Go to a theology professor and he’ll explain it to you…And after the Sermon on the Mount, in Luke´s version, comes the sermon of the plain. And how does it end? “Be merciful as the Father”. It doesn’t say: be just as the Father. But it is the same thing! (Interview with TV2000 on the Year of Mercy, November 20, 2016)

Teachings of the Magisterium

Table of Contents

I – Fundamental Notions Regarding Sin
II – The Price paid by Christ for the Expiation of Sins
III – Only Repentant Souls Receive Mercy
IV – Man’s Indifference toward Sin incites the Anger of God
V – Doctrinal Clarifications regarding Venial and Mortal Sin


I – Fundamental Notions Regarding Sin


John Paul II
– Before injuring man, sin is first and foremost a betrayal of God – a violation of His law and a rejection of His plan
– The Church believes in and professes that sin is an offense against God
– Sin may not be considered exclusively from its psychological consequences: it is not a simple human error, but an offense toward God

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Sin: a transgression of the eternal law

Catechism of Trent
– Sin violates the sanctity of the soul and profanes the temple of God
– Sin disturbs the order established by the divine wisdom
– Sin infects the reason and the will, the two most intimate faculties of the soul


II – The Price paid by Christ for the Expiation of Sins


Sacred Scripture
– Christ died to reconcile us with God

Catechism of Saint Pius X
– Jesus suffered to satisfy divine justice and to inspire the deepest horror for sin

Pius XI
– Admiring the Redeemer’s infinite charity, we must have a vehement hatred of sin
– Each fault renews the Passion of the Lord, crucifying and making him a mockery

John Paul II
– The death of Christ is a sacrifice of which makes us understand the gravity of sin

Benedict XVI
– The mercy of Jesus takes nothing away from the gravity of sin

Catechism of Trent
– God’s justice is an equal and corresponding attribute to mercy: sinners by themselves are utterly incapable of due satisfaction


III – Only Repentant Souls Receive Mercy


Sacred Scripture
– How can we who died to sin yet live in it? Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies

Council of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)
– One must detest the offense toward God and amend perversity with penance
– True contrition includes not only cessation from sin, but also hatred for the old life
– To obtain pardon, many tears and labors are necessary on our part

Saint Bernard
– If then you desire that God have compassion on you, have compassion on your soul with profound cries of penance

Saint John Chrysostom
– The stain of sin is washed away with tears and confession

Catechism of Saint Pius X
What should you do to excite yourself to detest your sins? Consider the rigor of God’s justice and the foulness of sin

Catechism of Trent
– Dispositions of soul necessary to ask pardon from the Lord

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– If we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie: sins are darkness
– Jesus pardons those who are displeased with their conduct and change until reaching perfection
– Above all, recognition of sin

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– Those who do not repent reject pardon and eternal salvation

John Paul II
– God’s pardon must correspond to conversion of the one who repents

Benedict XVI
– The pardon of the Lord inspires us to acknowledge the gravity of sin

Paul VI
– We must bear sufferings of spirit and of the body that we may expiate our sins and avoid the twofold penalty of hell

Innocent IV
– Hell is the torment of those who die impenitent


IV – Man’s Indifference toward Sin incites the Anger of God


Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Few fear the death of the soul – a more horrifying kind of death

Catechism of Trent
– God’s wrath pursues sinners – their sinful act passes, but its guilt and stain remains

Saint John Chrysostom
– Indignation and wrath are caused in God by sinners who feel no sorrow for their faults

Saint Bernard
– He who loves iniquity, hates his own soul

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– A grievous kind of death: the habit of wickedness

Saint John Chrysostom
– What punishment awaits those who return to their former vomit, preferring the serpent of sin to the dove of baptism?

Catechism of Trent
– Through sin we sell ourselves to the slavery of the devil


V – Doctrinal Clarifications regarding Venial and Mortal Sin


John Paul II
– Sin has a twofold consequence

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– A first sin prepares for many others
– The consequences of venial sin

Saint Augustine of Hippo
– Do not make light of venial sin, for it leads to mortal sin

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– It is also necessary to do penance for the pardon of venial sins

John Paul II
– Mortal sin is a rejection of God’s love for humanity and the whole of creation – one turns away from God and loses charity

Catechism of the Catholic Church
– One is condemned to the eternal death of hell if one’s mortal sins are not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness

Saint Thomas Aquinas
– True penance consists in abandoning sin
– Turning away from the infinite good, God, deserves an infinite punishment: the ‘pain of loss’ of God forever
– Duration of punishment corresponds to duration of fault, not the act but the stain: an irreparable fault incurs everlasting punishment


I – Fundamental Notions Regarding Sin


John Paul II

Before injuring man, sin is first and foremost a betrayal of God - a violation of His law and a rejection of His plan
The Church believes in and professes that sin is an offense against God
Sin may not be considered exclusively from its psychological consequences: it is not a simple human error, but an offense toward God

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Sin: a transgression of the eternal law

Catechism of Trent

Sin violates the sanctity of the soul and profanes the temple of God
Sin disturbs the order established by the divine wisdom
Sin infects the reason and the will, the two most intimate faculties of the soul

II – The Sufferings of Christ for the Expiation of Sins


Sacred Scripture

Christ died to reconcile us with God

Catechism of Saint Pius X

Jesus suffered to satisfy divine justice and to inspire the deepest horror for sin

Pius XI

Admiring the Redeemer’s infinite charity, we must have a vehement hatred of sin
Each fault renews the Passion of the Lord, crucifying and making him a mockery

John Paul II

The death of Christ is a sacrifice of which makes us understand the gravity of sin

Benedict XVI

The mercy of Jesus Christ takes nothing away from the gravity of sin

Catechism of Trent

God’s justice is an equal and corresponding attribute to mercy: sinners by themselves are utterly incapable of due satisfaction

III – Only Repentant Souls are Worthy of Mercy


Sacred Scripture

How can we who died to sin yet live in it? Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies

Council of Trent (Ecumenical XIX)

One must detest the offense toward God and amend perversity with penance
True contrition includes not only cessation from sin, but also hatred for the old life
To obtain pardon, many tears and labors are necessary on our part

Saint Bernard

If then you desire that God have compassion on you, have compassion on your soul with profound cries of penance

Saint John Chrysostom

The stain of sin is washed away with tears and confession

Catechism of Saint Pius X

What should you do to excite yourself to detest your sins? Consider the rigor God’s justice and the foulness of sin

Catechism of Trent

Dispositions of soul necessary to ask pardon from the Lord

Saint Augustine of Hippo

If we say that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie: sins are darkness
Jesus pardons those who are displeased with their conduct and change until reaching perfection
Above all, recognition of sin

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Those who do not repent reject pardon and eternal salvation

John Paul II

God’s pardon must correspond to conversion of the one who repents

Benedict XVI

The pardon of the Lord incites us to acknowledge the gravity of sin

Paul VI

We must bear sufferings of spirit and of the body that we may expiate our sins and avoid the twofold penalty of hell

Innocent IV

Hell is the torment of those who die impenitent

IV – Man’s Indifference toward Sin incites the Anger of God


Saint Augustine of Hippo

Few fear the death of the soul – a more horrifying kind of death

Catechism of Trent

God’s wrath pursues sinners – their sinful act passes, but its guilt and stain remains

Saint John Chrysostom

Indignation and wrath are caused in God by sinners who feel no sorrow for their faults

Saint Bernard

He who loves iniquity, hates his own soul

Saint Augustine of Hippo

A grievous kind of death: the habit of wickedness

Saint John Chrysostom

What punishment awaits those who return to their former vomit, preferring the serpent of sin to the dove of baptism?

Catechism of Trent

Through sin we sell ourselves to the slavery of the devil

V – Doctrinal Clarifications regarding Venial and Mortal Sin


John Paul II

Sin has a twofold consequence

Catechism of the Catholic Church

A first sin prepares for many others
The consequences of venial sin

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Do not make light of venial sin, for it leads to mortal sin

Saint Thomas Aquinas

It is also necessary to do penance for the pardon of venial sins

John Paul II

Mortal sin is a rejection of God’s love for humanity and the whole of creation – one turns away from God and loses charity

Catechism of the Catholic Church

One is condemned to the eternal death of hell if one’s mortal sins are not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness

Saint Thomas Aquinas

True penance consists in abandoning sin
Turning away from the infinite good, God, deserves an infinite punishment: the ‘pain of loss’ of God forever
Duration of punishment corresponds to duration of fault, not the act but the stain: an irreparable fault incurs everlasting punishment

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