Catechism On Line

Living Holy Lives

Book, Chapter 20  (Faith First)
Book, Chapter 17 (Be My Disciples)

In this chapter we discuss the following topics: 

God's Graces

Types of Sins

What is "Wrong"?

God's Graces

Through our baptism God shares His life and love with us. This gift is called "Sanctifying Grace". In other words, this is the grace which gives us the opportunity to become holy. Jesus was the most important tool of the sanctifying grace of God. Why? Because He taught us the ways of attaining holiness and He himself was the living example of that holiness. He said: "Be holy, because I am holy" 1 Peter 1:16.

God may also give us the "Actual Grace" by sending us His Holy Spirit which helps us to live as followers of Jesus Christ. For example; the fact that God sent you to be born into your Christian families, and they brought you to this classroom so you can learn about God and His ways was a sanctifying grace to you because other children deprived of such possibility will have much lower chance of becoming holy, and therefore saved. However, only if you choose to learn, obey and live Jesus' teachings you would receive the actual grace of receiving the Holy Spirit and therefore find your way to salvation.

When we freely choose not to live the way God wants us to live, we deprive ourselves of the reward of eternal salvation and it may lead us to sin. All sins offend God, hurt us, and may hurt others. Previously we defined a sin as an action or inaction which may cause undue suffering of someone else. But not all sins are the same and the Church defines them thus:

Types of Sins

Mortal sin is a serious or grave sin which separates us from God. To be a mortal sin, according to our Church, it must meet the following criteria:
  1. It is something we choose to do or not to do which may result in something seriously wrong.
  2. We know that what we are choosing to do or not to do is seriously wrong.
  3. We must freely choose to do what we know is seriously wrong.
Venial sins are less serious sins where one, two, or all three criteria above are missing.

But remember; these definitions are solely human interpretations and they in no way guarantee that this is the way God sees things. Besides, there may be difficulties with the definition of "what is wrong".

For example: 

  • Is it "wrong" to torture, cause death, or to kill a suspected terrorist?
  • Is it "wrong" to kill in self defense?
  • Is it "wrong" for a soldier to kill a group of unarmed, innocent villagers just to carry out an order?
According the criteria for the mortal sin listed above, it may not be since, the definition of what is "seriously wrong" may not be clear, and the soldier did not choose to carry out the order freely. But, has he not freely chosen joining the army?

Intentionally I have asked whether something is "wrong" rather than "justifiable" because remember:

  • Every war can be justified by peace.
  • Many murders can be justified by self defense.
  • An oppression of any minority group can be justified by "national security" interests.
Furthermore, also remember that not all things which are against the law are necessarily a sin. Similarly, not all things which are accepted by this society as legitimate and in accordance with the law are righteous in the eyes of God, for as we know that "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord God" (Is 55:8,9).

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