12. Degrees of Sin

Catholic Position

¶1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The
distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in
Scripture, became part of the tradition of the Church. It is
corroborated by human experience.

¶1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does
not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he
disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or
without complete consent.

¶1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love
itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of
sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not
redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from
Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the
power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although
we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust
judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

¶1014 The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our
death. In the litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray:
“From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”; to ask the
Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the
Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a
happy death.

¶1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him.
But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our
neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no
murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Our Lord warns us that we
shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the
poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin
without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining
separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of
definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is
called “hell.”

¶1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its
eternity.  Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a
state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the
punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”[615] The chief punishment of hell
is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life
and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

¶1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;[618] for this, a willful
turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in
it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers
of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not
want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”: Father, accept
this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.

Scripture Says

1 John 3:4
4  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Romans 3:23
23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Commentary

  • Jesus died to pay the penalty for all sins.
  • Any sin is an offence to God.