Question

Hello. I wanted to ask you something that I am not exactly sure of.
When are mortal sin and venial sin commited? (Be assured, I want to do the opposite). Can you give me some simple examples to avoid them both? And what does being in God’s grace mean?
I would like for you to be specific. Write to me in a simple way.
I send my regards. 

Thank you,
Stefano


Answer from the priest

Dear Stefano,


1. To commit a mortal sin, the simultaneous presence of three elements are required: grave matter, full awareness of the mind, and deliberate consent of the will. This is why John Paul II in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia says, “For mortal sin exists also when a person, knowingly and willingly (sciens et volens) for whatever reason, chooses something gravely disordered” (RP 17).

2. The distinction between venial and mortal sin is still based on these three elements. A venial sin is committed when there is no grave matter or, if there is, there is no full warning of the mind or the deliberate consent of the will.

3. I ommit these last two elements to limit the answer to the objective, that is to the matter. Theologians distinguish between always grave matter and generally grave matter. In the always grave matter, from an objective point of view, there is always a mortal sin, without exception (theologians say that here there is never any semblance of matter). In the generally grave matter, there can also be light matter, and therefore also objectively it is a question of venial sin (parvity of matter is given).

4. There is always grave matter, where objectively, mortal sin is always committed. When actions are brought directly against God, against divine perfections, or are directly opposed to theological virtues such as apostasy, heresy, despair of salvation, with the presumption of saving oneself without merit, and the hatred of God. Also against the virtue of religion, which has as its object the worship of God. Here, intrinsically evil actions are idolatry, an explicit pact with the devil, blasphemy, violation of the sacramental seal, some grave precepts of the Church, etc. There is always grave matter even when such high values ​​are damaged (indivisible matter) whereby a grave injury to the Creator is committed (sins against the fifth commandment) or it is completely outside the plan of sanctification willed by God (sins against the sixth commandment, of voluntary lust).

5. They are serious sins of their kind, and therefore they admit a semblance of matter, those in which the evil that is done, does not corrupt the good in its entirety. Here we have to deal with divisible matter. There is a serious matter when the good of one’s neighbor is substantially harmed. There is light matter when it is only slightly corrupted. Such are for example some squabbles within companies or in the family, some lies to defend themselves, some gossip, petty thefts that do not seriously harm the owner and do not create imbalance in society.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, speaking of deliberate venial sins, writes, “Such are, for example, voluntary lies, small murmurs, imprecations, resentments of words, derisions of others, stinging words, speeches of self-esteem, the grudges of soul nourished in the heart “.

6. There is still venial sin when one takes on licit actions, but in an incorrect manner according to the moral order. Think, for example, of eating or drinking more than necessary, a certain vanity in dressing, searching excessivly for honor and glory on the part of the people, talking too much, giving oneself in a disordered way to fun, getting exageratly sad or depressed, as if God didn’t care for us …

7. In conclusion there is venial sin when:
1. one takes on actions that are evil, but which have a semblance of matter;
2. one takes on lawful actions, but incorrectly according to the moral order;
3. one take actions that have a grave matter, but which are carried out with insufficient awareness of the mind or lack of full consent of the will.       These sins are venial not by matter, but by the imperfection of the action performed by the subject.

8. One is in God’s grace when there is full friendship with the Lord and his will is done. This friendship is broken when one of his commandments in a serious matter is voluntarily broken.

Take care. I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.
Father Angelo


Translated by Marina Nelson 

Verified by Martha Nelson

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