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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Moving from Mortal Sin Posts to Venial Sin Posts

 Again, apologies for spacing, which is because I cannot change errors easily now.

This past week, I have been concentrating on mortal sin and how deadly it really is.

Now, for the next few days, I shall concentrate on venial sins.

Some of my sources and my ideas have already been shared in the perfection series, but more emphasis is needed. This could be called an addendum to the perfection series.

If one is not working on venial sins, one is not on the road to perfection. Remember, only the perfect go to heaven when they die, and purgatory purges both venial sin and imperfections. Such imperfections as anxiety need to purged, as this and other weaknesses lead to sin.

Let me start with St. Francis de Sales, from his Introduction to The Devout Life. My comments are in blue.

CHAPTER XXII. The Necessity of Purging away all tendency to Venial Sins.

   AS daylight waxes, we, gazing into a mirror, see more plainly the soils
   and stains upon our face; and even so as the interior light of the Holy
   Spirit enlightens our conscience, we see more distinctly the sins,
   inclinations and imperfections which hinder our progress towards real
   devotion. And the selfsame light which shows us these blots and stains,
   kindles in us the desire to be cleansed and purged therefrom. You will
   find then, my child, that besides the mortal sins and their affections
   from which your soul has already been purged, you are beset by sundry
   inclinations and tendencies to venial sin; mind, I do not say you will
   find venial sins, but the inclination and tendency to them. Now, one is
   quite different from the other. We can never be altogether free from
   venial sin,--at least not until after a very long persistence in this
   purity; but we can be without any affection for venial sin. It is
   altogether one thing to have said something unimportant not strictly
   true, out of carelessness or liveliness, and quite a different matter
   to take pleasure in lying, and in the habitual practice thereof. But I
   tell you that you must purify your soul from all inclination to venial
   sin;--that is to say, you must not voluntarily retain any deliberate
   intention of permitting yourself to commit any venial sin whatever. It
   would be most unworthy consciously to admit anything so displeasing to
   God, as the will to offend Him in anywise. Venial sin, however small,
   is displeasing to God, although it be not so displeasing as the greater
   sins which involve eternal condemnation; and if venial sin is
   displeasing to Him, any clinging which we tolerate to mortal sin is
   nothing less than a resolution to offend His Divine Majesty. Is it
   really possible that a rightly disposed soul can not only offend God,
   but take pleasure therein?
    I write this as dawn breaks, and when one first wakes up one's thoughts
    should be on God, giving Him the new day. Venial sins weaken the will,
    allow bad habits to fester, and usually come from the predominant fault,
    which must be destroyed. 
   These inclinations, my daughter, are in direct opposition to devotion,
   as inclinations to mortal sin are to love:--they weaken the mental
   power, hinder Divine consolations, and open the door to
   temptations;--and although they may not destroy the soul, at least they
   bring on very serious disease. "Dead flies cause the ointment to send
   forth a stinking savour," says the Wise Man. [23] He means that the
   flies which settle upon and taste of the ointment only damage it
   temporarily, leaving the mass intact, but if they fall into it, and die
   there, they spoil and corrupt it. Even so venial sins which pass over a
   devout soul without being harboured, do not permanently injure it, but
   if such sins are fostered and cherished, they destroy the sweet savour
   of that soul--that is to say, its devotion. The spider cannot kill
   bees, but it can spoil their honey, and so encumber their combs with
   its webs in course of time, as to hinder the bees materially. Just so,
   though venial sins may not lose the soul, they will spoil its devotion,
   and so cumber its faculties with bad habits and evil inclinations, as
   to deprive it of all that cheerful readiness which is the very essence
   of true devotion; that is to say, if they are harboured in the
   conscience by delight taken therein. A trifling inaccuracy, a little
   hastiness in word or action, some small excess in mirth, in dress, in
   gaiety, may not be very important, if these are forthwith heeded and
   swept out as spiritual cobwebs;--but if they are permitted to linger in
   the heart, or, worse still, if we take pleasure in them and indulge
   them, our honey will soon be spoilt, and the hive of our conscience
   will be cumbered and damaged. But I ask again, how can a generous heart
   take delight in anything it knows to be displeasing to its God, or wish
   to do what offends Him?
  Talking too much, eating snacks which are not necessary, too much entertainment,
  which should not be daily, wasting time, buying unnecessary items, buying lottery tickets,
  and so on are imperfections and could be venial sins. So-called "white lies", disobedience 
  which is hidden, not saying daily prayers, not reading Scripture daily, harboring offenses, 
  these are all venial sins.  
 CHAPTER XXIII. It is needful to put away all Inclination for Useless and
 Dangerous Things.

   SPORTS, balls, plays, festivities, pomps, are not in themselves evil,
   but rather indifferent matters, capable of being used for good or ill;
   but nevertheless they are dangerous, and it is still more dangerous to
   take great delight in them. Therefore, my daughter, I say that although
   it is lawful to amuse yourself, to dance, dress, feast, and see seemly
   plays,--at the same time, if you are much addicted to these things,
   they will hinder your devotion,  (shopping, computer games, tv, 
   curiosity, talking about other people, interior critical spirit, not 
   order in the house, snacking, too much make-up or any, immodesty,
   even in a small way, not dressing for Mass, and so on....)
   and become extremely hurtful and
   dangerous to you. The harm lies, not in doing them, but in the degree
   to which you care for them. It is a pity to sow the seed of vain and
   foolish tastes in the soil of your heart, taking up the place of better
   things, and hindering the soul from cultivating good dispositions. It
   was thus that the Nazarites of old abstained not merely from all
   intoxicating liquors, but from grapes fresh or dried, and from vinegar,
   not because these were intoxicating, but because they might excite the
   desire for fermented liquors. Just so, while I do not forbid the use of
   these dangerous pleasures, I say that you cannot take an excessive
   delight in them without their telling upon your devotion. When the stag
   has waxed fat he hides himself amid the thicket, conscious that his
   fleetness is impaired should he be in need to fly: and so the human
   heart which is cumbered with useless, superfluous, dangerous clingings
   becomes incapacitated for that earnest following after God which is the
   true life of devotion. No one blames children for running after
   butterflies, because they are children, but is it not ridiculous and
   pitiful to see full-grown men eager about such worthless trifles as the
   worldly amusements before named, which are likely to throw them off
   their balance and disturb their spiritual life? Therefore, dear child,
   I would have you cleanse your heart from all such tastes, remembering
   that while the acts themselves are not necessarily incompatible with a
   devout life, all delight in them must be harmful.
   Too many peter pans and peter pams will never become holy because they are
   obsessed with trivialities.
  CHAPTER XXIV. All Evil Inclinations must be purged away.

   FURTHERMORE, my daughter, we have certain natural inclinations, which
   are not strictly speaking either mortal or venial sins, but rather
   imperfections; and the acts in which they take shape, failings and
   deficiencies. Thus S. Jerome says that S. Paula had so strong a
   tendency to excessive sorrow, that when she lost her husband and
   children she nearly died of grief: that was not a sin, but an
   imperfection, since it did not depend upon her wish and will. Some
   people are naturally easy, some oppositions; some are indisposed to
   accept other men's opinions, some naturally disposed to be cross, some
   to be affectionate--in short, there is hardly any one in whom some such
   imperfections do not exist. Now, although they be natural and
   instinctive in each person, they may be remedied and corrected, or even
   eradicated, by cultivating the reverse disposition. And this, my child,
   must be done. Gardeners have found how to make the bitter almond tree
   bear sweet fruit, by grafting the juice of the latter upon it, why
   should we not purge out our perverse dispositions and infuse such as
   are good? There is no disposition so good but it may be made bad by
   dint of vicious habits, and neither is there any natural disposition so
   perverse but that it may be conquered and overcome by God's Grace
   primarily, and then by our earnest diligent endeavour. I shall
   therefore now proceed to give you counsels and suggest practices by
   which you may purify your soul from all dangerous affections and
   imperfections, and from all tendencies to venial sin, thereby
   strengthening yourself more and more against mortal sin. May God give
   you grace to use them.
   Purification cannot be ignored. Using the stress and daily activities for purification is
   one way of changing. Not complaining about anything is one way of purification, as 
   is gratitude-being thankful for water, food, work and so on.
   We live in the West in an entitlement society which affects even the best people, who think
   they deserve the best or this or that. Look at your tendencies and you will find your
  to be continued....