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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.

"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God."
St Philip Neri

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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