Effects of Venial Sin
I. Venial sin demands further reflection.
Although it does not gangrene and destroy the essential comeliness imparted by grace, venial sin at least contaminates the soul's supernatural beauty; it hinders the diffusion of exterior loveliness, it fetters those activities of the supernatural life which one may consider its radiance and splendor; like stains or burns marring a beautiful face.
When you sin venially you commit an act that is useless, because it cannot be directed to your Last End; you halt on the path that leads to union with the Supreme Good, like a thoughtless child sent on an errand playing by the roadside; and because the matter is linked up with the perfection of the moral order and concerns to some degree life's ultimate goal you incur a real transgression, you really and ttuly disobey your Lord and your God.
And will you have the audacity to consider negligible a thing that offends God's infinite Majesty, that is lacking in reverence towards His Greatness and gratitude for His benefits, that diminishes His Glory, and is unmindful and contemptuous of His Love? My soul, are not these deterrents enough?
II. God, who has no hatred for anything He created, not even for suffering or for the most hideous freaks of nature, cannot but abhor, as long as He loves His own infinite Goodness, eternally and with unrelenting hatred, a single venial sin. And, in token of that detestation, He punishes it with such fearful torments in Purgatory that there is nothing in the world to equal them, neither the torments of the martyrs nor, perhaps, even those of Jesus Christ Himself in His passion and Death.
Further weight is added to this truth if we bear in mind that for no reason whatever and for nobody in this world or the next is it lawful to commit a venial sin: not even to deliver the world from all its pangs and sorrows; not even to bring about all imaginable good; nor to convert all heathens and sinners, nor to open the gates of heaven to the whole race of Adam, nor even to quench the flames of hell and reduce them to cold ashes; for God would hate it, detest it everlastingly.
And yet, O Lord, I commit it for any futile pretext, with the greatest ease; sometimes for no reason at all, just for the pleasure of doing something! Have pity on my unmindfulness; open my eyes that I may see, and tremble.
III. Reflect on another great harm of venial sin. When it forms a habit, the soul drifts into the deplorable state of spiritual lukewarmness attended by all the risks so vividly described by Our Lord in the Apocalypse when reproaching the Angel of the Church of Laodicea:
"A message to thee from the Truth,Dear Lord, can it be that I am turning into something so repugnant to Thee, so sickening and nauseating, that Thou art ready to spew me out? Am I going to be something vomited and unclean? And how would Thou take me again to Thy fatherly bosom? Only of a dog it is said: "Canis versus ad vomitum" . . . And I have no fears? And I even boast of my merits and virtues? Oh, "I am rich . . . nothing, now, is wanting to me!" Presumption, luckless child of tepidity!
the faithful and unerring witness,
the Source from which God's creating began:
I know of thy doings,
and find thee neither cold nor hot;
cold or hot, I would thou were one or the other.
Being what thou art, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot,
thou will make me vomit thee out of my mouth.
I am rich, thou sayest, I have come into my own;
nothing, now, is wanting to me.
And all the while, if thou did know it,
it is thou who art wretched,
thou who art to be pitied.
Thou art a beggar, blind and naked." (Apoc. 3:14-18)
IV. I shall avoid at all costs any venial sin fully deliberate. It may be a relatively small thing, but to harbor it so unconcernedly is no small proof of the low esteem my Heavenly Father inspires me with, seeing that I so easily and continually offend and slight Him, even though my transgressions be not of the calibre of those that sufficed to crucify Him. Is there a child, with but an average sense of dutifulness, who would behave like this towards his earthly father? Lord, Thou couldst befittingly reproach me after each venial sin with the words of the prophet: If then I be a father, where is my honor? (Mal. 1:6)
Whenever there is no mortal sin to confess, I shall aim at freeing myself during the following week or so, that is, until my next confession, of some definite venial sin; for instance: not to give way to carping criticism or to deliberate distractions during my spiritual exercises, etc.; and to achieve this I shall avail myself of the following means:
1. Resolute determination._________________________
2. Sincere repentance as soon as I have fallen into the specified fault, together with ~ purpose of amendment.
3. To take this as the so-called "virtue of practice" for the interval before my next confession, bringing all my examinations of conscience to bear on it, both the particular examinations before meals and the general before going to bed.
4. When preparing for my next confession, I shall start by examining my conscience on that particular fault, and I shall not fail to sum up its exact nature and the number of times I have committed it since my last confession; and in my accusation, this will be the first item; for example: "I accuse myself of giving way to anger seven times."
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.
Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!