The Horror of Sin
The only thing that can explain why the wrath of God is so terrible is an understanding of sin. Because God is infinite, an offense against him is an infinite offense. The human intellect cannot comprehend infinity, therefore a full comprehension of sin is humanly impossible. However, it is very beneficial to contemplate it.
from The Spiritual Life
Sin is wilful transgression of the law of God. Hence, it is an act of disobedience to God, an offence against Him; for it is the choice of our own will in preference to His, and thereby a violation of the sovereign right God has to pur submission.
Holy Scripture describes sin as the most odious and the most criminal thing in existence.
a) It is an act of disobedience to God, a transgression of His orders, which is justly punished with the utmost severity, as we witness in our first parents [Adam and Eve]. In the people of Israel, God’s chosen portion, this disobedience is regarded as a revolt, a rebellion.
b) It is an act of ingratitude toward our greatest Benefactor, an unnatural lack of filial piety toward the most loving of, fathers: “I have brought up children and exalted them: but they have despised me.”
c) It is unfaithfulness, a species of adultery, since God is the spouse of our souls and rightly demands inviolable fidelity: “But thou hast prostituted thyself to many lovers” (Jeremias 3:1).
d) It is an injustice, since by sin we openly violate the rights God has over us: “Whosoever committeth sin committeth also iniquity. And sin is iniquity” (1 John 3:4).
Mortal Sin in Itself
Mortal sin is an evil, the only real evil, since all other evils are but its consequences or its punishment.
In relation to God, mortal sin is a crime against the majesty of the Godhead; it is an assault upon all of God’s attributes, but chiefly an attempt against Him as our first beginning, our last end, our Father, and our benefactor.
A) God, the first cause of our being is our Maker, from Whom we hold all we are and all we, have; He is thereby our Supreme Lord and Master to Whom we owe an absolute obedience. By mortal sin we disobey Him; we affront Him by preferring our own will to His, by preferring a creature to the Creator! Nay more we revolt against Him, since by the fact of creation, we are subject to Him as we can be to no earthly power.
a) This rebellion is all the more grave, since this Master is infinitely wise and infinitely good, and commands nothing that is not conducive to our own happiness as well as to His glory; whilst our will is weak, frail, liable to error. In spite of this, we prefer it to that of God!
b) This defiance is all the more inexcusable, since we know well what we do; for from the days of our childhood, we have been taught by Christian parents and have a clear and precise knowledge of God’s rights over us and of the malice of sin.
c) And why do we thus betray Our Lord and Master? We do so for a vile pleasure that debases us, from a stupid pride whereby we arrogate unto ourselves glory that belongs to God alone, for paltry interests, for a transient gain, to which we sacrifice a good that is eternal.
716. B) God is also our ‘last end. He created us, and
created us for Himself alone. He could not have done
i Gen., II, 17; III, 11-19.
” feremias, II, 4-8.
3 Isaias, I, 2.
< Jeremias, III, i. $ I John, III, 4.
otherwise; for He is the Supreme Good, and outside Himself
we could neither realize our ‘perfection nor find our bliss.
Besides, having come forth from ;.God, we should and we
must return to Him; being the work of. His hand, we are
His own and we must revere, praise, serve, and glorify
being the object of His love we should love Him.
with our whole soul – and it is in the love of Him and in
the worship of Him, that we find our perfection and our
happiness. Hence, He nas a strict right that our whole life
with all its thoughts, all its longings, all its acts be directed
unto Him, unto His glory.
By mortal sin, however, we turn away from God in order
to take our delight in some created thing; we do Him an
injury when we choose one of His creatures, or rather
our own selfish satisfaction in preference to Him, for at
bottom, it is not so much the creature which we seek as the
pleasure we find therein. This is’ flagrant injustice, since it
constitutes an attempt to strip the Almighty of His supreme
rights over us, of that outward glory we are bound to
promote; it is a sort of idolatry, the setting up in the heart’s
sanctuary of an idol over againts the One True God ;
scorning the fountain, of living water, which alone can
quench the soul’s thirst, to go, as Jeremias vigorously
puts it, after the slimy waters that reek within abandoned
wells: “For my .people have done two evils : They have ..
forsaken me the fountain of living water, and have
digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can iiold
no water.” *
111. C) God is to us also a Father, Who has adopted us
as His children and Who bestows on us the thoughtful care
of a parent (n. 94); He heaps upon us His choicest favors, .
endowing us with a supernatural organism, in order that we
may live a life like unto .His ; He showers upon us abundant
actual graces that^.we may make good use of His gifts, and
thus by good works, increase bur spiritual life. ‘Now,” by
mortal sin we scornfully fling aside those gifts, nay weeing
them back at the Giver, .our Benefactor, our Father; we
spurn His grace ‘at the very -moment He overwhelms us
with His bounty. Is not this ingratitude?
the more culpable because we have received so much,
ingratitude that cries out for vengeance!
1 This is the thought developed by ST. IGNATIUS at the outset of the Spiritual
Exercises, beginning with these words: ” Man was created to this end, that he
glorify and- worship the Lord his God, and that by servingHim he attain salvation.
Jeremias, II, 13.
718. 2 In relation to Jesus Christ, .our Redeemer,
mortal sin is a sort of deicide. a) It is sin that has caused
the sufferings and death of the Savior :
” Christ sufferedfor
us… 1 And washed us from our. sins ‘in his own blood.” 2
That this thought make an impression upon us, we must
think of the personal share we have had in Christ’s bitter
Passion. It is I who betrayed my Master with a kiss, and
at times, for even less than the thirty pieces of silver. It is
I who caused violent hands to be laid upon Him, and
a sentence of death to be passed on Him. I was with the
rabble that cried out: “Not this man, but Barabbas…
Crucify him. “3 I was with the soldiers, lashing Him
through my self-indulgence, crowning His head with thorns
through my interior sins of pride and sensuality, laying the
heavy beam upon His shoulders and nailing Him to the
Cross. As Father Olier so well explains it,
” our niggardliness
crucified His all-embracing chanty, our ill temper His
meekness, our intolerance His patience, our pride His
humility. Thus our vices rack and strangle, and quarter
the Christ that lives in us.
4 What hatred should we bear
a sin that has so cruelly fastened Our Savior to the Cross!
b) Of course, we can no longer visit fresh tortures upon
Him, since He can suffer no more, but our present faults do
offer Him fresh insults; for when we wilfully commit them,
we scorn His love and iavors; as far as we are concerned,
we render void the Blood He shed in such profusion ; we
hold back from Him that love, that gratitude/that obedience
.to which He is entitled. What is this, if not repaying ‘love
with black ingratitude, and thereby calling down -upon our
heads a dreadful punishment?
III. The Effects,oj- Mortal Sin
God has given the law a sanction; He has made happiness
the reward of virtue and suffering the wages of sin. Seeing
then the effects of sin in this life and in the next, we can in
a measure judge of its guilt.
719. i To realize the dire effects of mortal sin in
this life, let us remember what a soul in the state of grace
is. It is the dwelling-place and the delight of the Most
Blessed Trinity. The Three Divine Persons adorn it with
divine graces, divine virtues, divine gifts. Under the
influence of actual grace, the good acts such a soul performs
1 / Peter, II, 21, 2
Apoc. , I, 5.
3 John, XVIII, 40, XIX, 6.
4 Cat. for an Int. Life, P. I, lesson II.
merit eternal life. Such a soul possesses the holy liberty
“of , the children of God, shares in His power and virtue, and
enjoys, especially at certain times, a happiness which is
a foretaste of celestial bliss. And what does mortal sin do ?
‘a) It expels Godfrom our J0;//, and because the possession
of God is already the beginning of heavenly joy, the loss of
Him, is, at it. were, a prelude to eternal loss ; for the loss of
God is likewise the loss of all the goods of which He is
‘the source. ‘. .
.Tb) Losing God we lose sanctifying grace, whereby our
soul lived a life similar to that of the Godhead; hence,
mortal sin is a ’sort of spiritiial suicide. Together with
sanctifying grace we lose that glorious galaxy of virtues
and gifts that go with it .If in His infinite mercy God
leaves us in possession of Faith and’ Hope, these virtues are
no longer vivified by Love and now abide with us merely to
infuse a wholesome fear and inspire us with an earnest
desire of atoning and doing penance. In the meantime they
show us the sad plight of bur soul and excite the pangs of
720. c) The merits we have earned in the past with so
much .effort are likewise, lost by mortal sin ; we can only
regain them by penance. Moreover, whilst we remain in
the state of mortal sin, we can acquire no merits -for heaven.
What a waste of ‘the supernatural ! :.’
d) To ‘all this we must add the tyrannical yoke of servitude the
sinner must from now on bear. Instead of “‘the liberty of the
children of God,
. behold him now in the slavery… of sin, of evil
passions now unloosed by the loss of grace, of habits soon formed
after repeated falls falls so difficult to avoid !
” Whosoever committeth
sin is the servant of sin.
” ? Little by little the moral’ strengh
of the soul is sapped, actual graces become rarer, discouragement
and at times despair ensue. This poor soul is lost unless God in-His:
exceeding great mercy comes with His, grace and rescues if from