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75. The Cause of Sin

1. The direct cause of sin is the will inasmuch as itculpably lacks the direction of right reason (the trulyenlightening and counseling intellect) and God's law, and isintent upon some creatural good.

2. Thus the interior and proximate cause of sinis found in the will.We usually say that this interior andproximate cause of sin is in the reason, meaning by the word reasonthe whole intellective element or part of man, that is, hisintellect and will together. The remote, as contrastedwith the proximate, interior cause of sin is the influence of thesentient appetites and the imagination. This remote interior causeof sin is never the complete cause; it must be admitted into theintellective part of man by free will before it can becomethoroughly effective.

3. Exterior things can be, in some sense, thecause of sin, but only partially and incompletely in so far asexternal objects can stir the senses and, through the senses,exercise an influence on reason. Thus a precious gem may stir aperson to desire it, to dwell imaginatively upon the joy ofpossessing it, and so lead him to steal it. But, in the lastanalysis, the theft is not truly caused by the gem itself; thetheft is caused by the thief's will, acting without the rightordering of reason.

4. One sin may be said to cause another, since a human actmay dispose a person to perform its like. One breakthrough of therestraints that keep a person from sin may invite, so to speak,other sins to follow in the wake of the first. But, in each case,the complete cause of the sin is the will, the reason, of thesinner.

"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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