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72. The Distinction of Sin

1. Sins are essentially distinguished one from another bytheir objective reality as things out of line with reason andGod's law. That is, sins are distinguished from one another asobjects. Thus we distinguish sinful words from sinful deeds, andboth of these from sinful desires.

2. A sin comes from inordinate desire for some creaturalgood or from inordinate pleasure in a creatural good. Thisinordinateness may be in things of the mind (as, for instance,prideful thoughts or undue love of praise) or in things of sense(as, for example, food or sex). Thus there is a distinction of sins(still on the score of their objective reality) asspiritual sins and carnal sins.

3. Sins are not specifically distinguished on the score oftheir causes except in the case of the final cause, that is, theintention or end-in-view of the sinner.

4. Sins are distinguished as: (a) sins against God, suchas blasphemy, heresy, and sacrilege; (b) sins against self, such asintemperance; and (c) sins against others, such as theft, murder,or slander. Of course, all sins are against God, but those thathave this specific name are directly against God or thethings of God.

5. Sins are not specifically distinct on the score of thepunishment due to them. All mortal sins are at one in deservingeternal punishment, although there are essential distinctions amongmortal sins, as, for example, between blasphemy and murder. Andwhile mortal sins (which deserve eternal punishment) areessentially distinct from venial sins (which deserve temporalpunishment only) this distinction does not find its cause in thepunishment due.

6. Neither are sins specifically distinct on the score ofcommission or omission. A man who steals ten dollars, and the thiefwho omits to restore ten dollars he has stolen, are guilty of thesame kind of sin against injustice.

7. In each species or essential kind of sin we distinguishsins ofthought (involving imaginings and even desires), word,and deed (involving the deed of omission). Thought precedes word,and word may lead on to action. Sin may be in thought alone, or inthought and desire, or in thought and word, or in allthree-thought, word, deed.

8. Sins are distinguished specifically as sins of excessand sins of defect or deficiency. One sins by excess ininordinately loving a crea-tural good; one sins by defect in beinginsensible to good. Inordinate love and sinful indifference are notthe same species of sin.

9. In sins that spring from a single motive, circumstancesmay change the degree of sin but not its species or essential kind.Sins that spring from a manifold motive have circumstanceswhich really enter into the essence of the act and introduce newspecies. Thus a man who steals money from a church to bribe apolitician to enact unjust legislation, really commits threedistinct sins against justice and one against religion.

"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
St Augustine

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