Thursday, March 09, 2006

Venial Sin

From Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene O.C.D.
St. Teresa of Avila says, “For the love of God, take care not to commit any deliberate venial sin, even the smallest. … And can anything be small if it offends God? (Con 2 – Way 41).

2. Quite different are the venial sins which we commit through frailty or inadvertence. Very often the soul is determined not to give in at any price; due to its weakness, however, it falls when temptation comes, especially if the attack is unexpected. Nevertheless, once aware of it, the soul feels sincere sorrow, repents at once, asks God’s pardon, rises, and sets out again. Such sins cause no great harm to the soul; they are signs of its frailty and show that it has not yet reached spiritual maturity. Moreover, if the soul sincerely humbles itself after these falls, it will draw profit from them and a more profound knowledge of its own misery, which will make it mistrust its own strength entirely and place all its confidence in God alone. It will experience in a practical way the profound truth of the words of Jesus, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). It is not unusual for God to permit these falls, and He does so precisely to give the soul this practical knowledge of its nothingness, and to anchor it firmly in humility, the foundation of all our spiritual life.

In regard to faults of this kind, St. Therese of the Child Jesus felt that we can be sure “they do not grieve the good God,” because they are not caused by a will intent on sin, by indifference or by coldness; they spring from the weakness of human nature.

If because of our weakness it is impossible for us to avoid these little daily venial faults of inadvertence or frailty, it is important to know how to detest them and to make generous reparation. As to deliberate venial sins, we should be firmly resolved not to commit them for anything in the world.

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