Mortal and Venial sin

Friends in Christ, in the Epistle today, we read from the 1st Letter of St. John. Our translation is one, but here is another: ‘If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. But there is sin which is mortal.’
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So it is clear from the Holy Scriptures, that there is mortal sin. Some translations call it ‘deadly sin,’ – same thing. There are two types of sin which we can commit: mortal sin, and venial sin. Mortal sins are serious sins against the law of God. They are called ‘mortal,’ or ‘deadly,’ because they kill the life of grace in our soul. Venial sin is a less serious offense against the Lord, which does not however, deprive us of sanctifying grace.
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Sin is best understood in terms of our relationship with God, which is really what the spiritual life is all about. If a boy disobeys his mother and does not set the table, this is a venial sin. It disappoints his mother, but their love remains. But if that boy in an argument would punch his mother; well – this would be a serious break in their love, and somebody would have to apologize big time. So too with God.
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Venial sins can be healed in us in a variety of ways. We tell the Lord we are sorry, we say an act of contrition; the grace of Holy Mass, receiving Holy Communion forgives venial sins according to our devotion and desire; praying the rosary or other prayers, acts of Faith – in a variety of ways, we are always renewing our love for the Lord, and being healed of the many venial sins we commit each day.
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Mortal sin requires a real apology, repentance, and forgiveness, so we must go to Confession. In confession the priest speaks for Christ and for the whole Church; he needs to reconcile us with the Church, because serious wounds harm the whole Body of Christ. In the early Church, people had to stand in front of the whole congregation and confess their serious sins; they would be given an often difficult penance that might last weeks or months. Today the Church makes it easier for us; we can even confess behind the screen.
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When we commit mortal sin, we lose all the merits of all the good actions we have ever done because we’ve turned from God. So, with mortal sin, we must be reconciled in confession, but then all of our former merits are restored.
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For something to be a mortal sin, the action must first of all, be a SERIOUS one. Secondly, we must KNOW that it is a serious sin, and finally, we must FREELY CHOOSE to do it, we can’t commit sin in our sleep. Mortal sins would include any sexual related sins, skipping Mass, hatred, serious theft or lies, really damaging someone’s reputation, and other things. Confession is the place to be reconciled, and to begin new.
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We ourselves should try to not commit even venial sins, so as to always please our Heavenly Father.
Let us then take our relationship with God seriously; and let not anyone tell you that there is no such thing as mortal sin – it’s in the bible!

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