Mortal sin is the greatest evil in the world. It separates us from God. Because of our mortal sins, Jesus Christ suffered agonies and died on the cross. To strengthen our resolution not to commit sin, we should remember also that even a single mortal sin is enough to send us to hell.
What is mortal sin?
Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God.
- Any wilful thought, word, action or omission, in serious violation of God's law, is a mortal sin. Examples of mortal sin are blasphemy, wilful murder, adultery, arson, robbery, etc. Mortal sin occurs as soon as God is no longer our final end in our thoughts, words, and actions.Each mortal sin we commit is a three-fold insult to Almighty God: it insults Him by rebellion or disobedience, by ingratitude, and by contempt.
- Circumstances of person, cause, time, place, means, object, and evil consequences enhance or decrease the guilt of the sin.Thus mortal sins, although all mortal, differ in the weight of their guilt.
Why is this sin called mortal?
This sin is called mortal, or deadly, because it deprives the sinner of sanctifying grace, the supernatural life of the soul.
- Without sanctifying grace, the soul is displeasing to God, unclean, and can never behold Him or be with Him in heaven. Without sanctifying grace, the soul is without God; and without God, the devil makes the soul his habitation. "Know thou and see that it is an evil and bitter thing for thee to have left the Lord thy God" (Jer. 2:19).
- The sinner loses charity towards God and his fellow-men, and by the weakening of his will and the darkening of his intellect, is liable to fall into other mortal sins. The devil cries to his subordinates, "God hath forsaken him; pursue him and take him, for there is none to deliver him" (Ps. 70:11).
- Without sanctifying grace, the soul is truly "dead"; and if an adult dies in that state, he will suffer the torments of the damned. The word "mortal" comes from the Latin mors, which means death. St. John Chrysostom said, "Sinners are dead while they live, and the just live after they are dead."
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