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71. Vice and Sin

1. A sin is a human act (that is, a deliberate thought,word, deed, desire, omission) contrary to right reason, andtherefore contrary to God. A vice is a habit of sin. Vice is amorally bad habit; it stands contrasted with virtue which is amorally good habit. And sin, which is a vicious act, is contrastedwith a virtuous act, that is, a morally good act.

2. Vice is contrary to order and reason; it is opposed tothe rational nature of man.

3. In itself, a bad act is worse than a bad habit; for abad act is a deed done, whereas a bad habit is only a stabledisposition to commit bad deeds. Even human law punishes a criminalact, but not a criminal disposition.

4. One sin does not destroy the opposed virtue as a habit.Just as one good act does not establish a virtue, so neither doesone bad act establish a vice. But one mortal sin destroys allinfused virtues as virtues (as living and active virtues), but notas habits. A mortal sin destroys charity and thus renders faith andhope inoperative for getting a man on towards heaven. Mortal sinrobs faith and hope of their power as virtues, but it does notexpel them as habits. Venial sin neither destroys nor expelscharity or other virtues.

5. A person who sins by omission must, of course, be doingsomething at the time, but, for the sin of omission no determinateact is required to take the place of the omitted duty. The sin ofomission is not in what a person is doing but in what he is failingto do.

6. Sin is sometimes defined as "word, deed, or desirecontrary to the eternal law." The definition is adequate, forsinful "words, deeds, desires," involve thoughts andimaginings. And a sin of omission is actually a deed; it is thedeed of omitting what one should do.

"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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