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89. Venial Sin

1. Venial sin does not leave a stain on the soul, as mortal sindoes. Venial sin is like a passing cloud which puts the soul intoshadow, butleaves no mark on the soul itself. Mortal sin islike an ink-dripping cloth which leaves a stain on what it hastouched.

2. St. Paul (I Cor. 3:12) speaks of venial sins under thenames of wood, hay, stubble. These are such things as may be foundin a man's house, and may be burned up without burning thehouse itself. And venial sins may be multiplied in a person, evenas wood, hay, and stubble may be stored up in quantity in a house.Such venial sins are capable of being "burned up" by thepenance of temporal punishment in this life or in purgatory, whilethe house of the soul still stands.

3. Man in his primal innocence could not have committed avenial sin. The first sin of man had to be a mortal sin. For venialsin comes of disorder in the sensitive appetites or in reasonitself. But man in the state of innocence had "an unerringstability of order." Until mortal sin brought disorder, theirregularities and imperfections which occasion venial sin did notexist. Therefore, the first human sin was a mortal sin.

4. The angels could not have sinned venially. The angelshave not parts or elements; they have no sentient appetites, nopassions to become inordinate. They are pure spirits. Noinordinateness is possible in an angel except complete, total,entire inordinateness. And such inordinateness is mortal sin. Hencethe fallen angels sinned mortally. The good angels are now in gloryand cannot commit sin. The fallen angels are in the essentialdisorder of mortal sin; this they reiterate or emphasize in alltheir acts; hence all these acts are mortal sins.

5. The sins of persons not of the faith are less grievousthan sins of Catholics. For unbelievers do not know the malice ofsin as believers do. When believers sin, they "sin against thelight"; unbelievers are always in at least partial darkness.In anyone, believer or unbeliever, the beginning or firstmovement of sensuality is not a mortal sin, for thisbeginning-movement has not yet the approval of the will which isrequired to make a sin mortal.

6. When an unbaptized person comes to the use of reason,he will, according to this capacity, begin to direct his life toits true end. If he knowingly fails to do this, he is guilty ofmortal sin. Before he comes to responsible life (that is, to theuse of reason), an unbaptized person is in the state of originalsin, but is incapable of committing actual sin. When he becomescapable of actual sin, and commits it, his first sin is necessarilymortal sin. It is impossible for a person to be guilty of venialsin with original sin alone.

"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."
St Philip Neri

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"God looks neither at long nor beautiful prayers, but at those that come from the heart."
The Cure D'Ars

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