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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.

"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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"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."
St Philip Neri

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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