In response to some in the current scene who are dismissing mortal sin as a clear or present danger to the human person, yesterday’s article sought to address the conditions for mortal sin. Grave matter, due discretion, and deliberate consent are not as hard to come by as some allege.
In today’s brief post, there is addressed the rather brusque dismissal of the notion that anyone ever chooses to turn away from God. Tomorrow’s post will, with proper caveats seek to list some of the more some of the more common mortal sins committed.
As just noted then, Many people today scoff at the idea that mortal sin is a turning away from God. They doubt that most people directly intend to turn away from God, as if to say, “I hate God and so I am going to turn away from Him by sinning.” But of course, this both caricatures and absolutizes the turning away from God. Almost no one explicitly sets out to sever their relationship with God as the principle motive of their sinning, and this is not what is meant by the Church teaching that serious sin separates us from God.
That Catechism gives a more realistic description and common occurance of what occurs in mortal sin, teaching that our preference for an inferior good to God by a serious violation of His law is what turns us away from him.
[M]ortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. In mortal sin the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end. As such, the sin is mortal by its very object whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1855-1856).
So, once again, we are taught that in mortal sin we set our will upon something we know to be incompatible with our ultimate end. And, even though our first thought may not be that we are rejecting God, we set our will on something incompatible with God. In so doing, we are preferring something or someone to God.
This poisons our heart if we do not repent because we feed a desire in our heart for what is not God and we starve our heart from Him and what He offers. If unrepentant, soon enough we prefer the darkness to the light. We prefer the trinkets of this world to God and come to regard Him as a thief who comes to take what we want and keeps us from doing what we want to do. God becomes our enemy.
If we die in this state, the warmth of God and Heaven seem overwhelming, wrathful, and like a consuming fire. We cannot endure and so we turn away finally and permanently to a place that we strangely prefer, but which is hellacious because it is not that for which we were made. It lacks the one thing necessary: God.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light and does not come into the Light (John 3:19-20).
So, in mortal sin it is not that we directly turn from God — at least not at first — but that we turn to the lesser things, preferring the darkness, and come to hate Him who is the Light.
Without repentance and regular confession we soon settle down with sin and prefer it to God and what he teaches. Gradually we can even come to see God and his teaching as obnoxious, “intolerant” and hateful. Or, alternately we imagine our own version of a god who is not the God of Scripture, who approves of our turning away to lesser things. Of course this is idolatry as we place other gods before the Lord God. In either case we turn from God by persisting in our desire for lesser things and letting it grow. We seen then how mortal sin and its effects do turn us from God.
Don’t do it.
One Reply to “How Mortal Sin Cuts Off Charity by Us Turning From God”
“we turn to the lesser things, preferring the darkness” — Dear Msgr., I think it’s important to recognize that in fact we often turn to lesser things because we are unable to endure the darkness (“we see now through a glass darkly” -1Cor 13), or the suffering occasioned by our disordered passions; and that darkness that we are unable to endure is not just the inscrutable (“he alone is immortal and dwells in inscrutable light, who no man has seen” — 1Tim 6) darkness of God (“it is the glory of God to conceal a thing” — Prov 25:2); but also the darkness of sin, scandal, confusion, lukewarmness, mixed messaging, personal rejection, silent apostasy from faith in God, that we encounter very often precisely when we seek guidance from the pastors of the Church. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (Henry David Thoreau)