After church, one of the older folks said to the pastor: "you should talk more about sin." The pastor was puzzled, since he'd been talking about nothing but sin for the last few weeks.
Then he realized that for this person "sin" was a handful of activities that the person either didn't enjoy, couldn't participate in, or actively disliked.
Having well-defined personal preferences is okay. Expecting everyone to share them is unreasonable: Getting them confused with universal principles leads to trouble.
I'll be talking about sin. I'm against it, by the way: which may not mean what you think it does.
Bingo and Balance
Playing Bingo isn't sinful. Neither is drinking.
Playing Bingo instead of paying for groceries: that's a problem. So is getting drunk. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2290-2291, 2413)
Gambling, drinking, traveling, anything carried to excess is a bad idea. (January 25, 2015)
Seeing excessive behavior as sinful is one thing. Deciding that God will cast wretched sinners into the everlasting fires of Hell — that's trying to muscle in on God's turf: and a very bad idea indeed. (Matthew 7:1-5; Catechism, 1861)
Recognizing some actions as addictive behavior doesn't make them right, but it helps us understand what's going on: and the Church takes psychological realities into account. (Catechism, 387, 1673, 1735, 2352, 2282)
Choice and Consequences
God didn't make a horrible mistake when creating this world: and us. The universe is basically good, and so are we — basically. (Genesis 1:31; Catechism, 31, 299, 355)
Obviously, something went wrong: but it wasn't a design flaw.
Like angels, we are rational creatures who can decide what we do. Unlike angels, we are also material creatures: spiritual beings with a body made from the stuff of this world. (Catechism, 311, 325-348, 1704, 1730-1731)
Our bodies aren't what's wrong with us, by the way. Satan, like all angels, has no body. That didn't stop Satan and other angels from saying "no" to God. (Catechism, 385-395)
There's a detail in the creation stories in Genesis that I find particularly poignant. Genesis 1:26-27 says that we're made "in the image of God."
Then, in Genesis 3:5, the serpent tells Eve that after eating the fruit "...you will be like gods..." — and we forgot that we already were made "in the image of God."
That was a long time ago — a very long time ago — and we've been living with the disastrous consequences of that wrong choice ever since. (Catechism, 396-412)
Offending Reason, Truth: and God
What I'm supposed to do is pretty simple:
- Love God, love my neighbor
(Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-27)
- See everyone as my neighbor
(Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 10:29-37; Catechism, 1825)
- Treat others as I want to be treated
(Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)
Sin is an offense against reason and truth: and God. It's what happens when I decide that I'll do something I know is bad for myself, or others; and do it anyway: or decide to not do something I should. (Catechism, 1849-1864)
There's a lot more to say: but this is about as much as I have time to write this week.
One more thing: I put definitions of concupiscence and sin at the end of this post.
- "The martyrs of our sins"
Morning Meditation by Pope Francis in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae (January 31, 2014)
- "Angelus - First Sunday of Lent"
Pope Benedict XVI (March 13, 2011)
- "King Josiah, Consequences, and Love"
(November 9, 2014)
- "Neighbors, Love, and Upping the Ante"
(October 26, 2014)
- "Vengeance, Anger, and Looking Ahead"
(July 13, 2014)
- "Sodom and Gomorrah: Learning the Right Lesson"
(March 31, 2014)
- "Holy Willie Syndrome"
(January 4, 2012)
"CONCUPISCENCE: Human appetites or desires which remain disordered due to the temporal consequences of original sin, which remain even after Baptism, and which produce an inclination to sin (1264, 1426, 2515).
"SIN: An offense against God as well as a fault against reason, truth, and right conscience. Sin is a deliberate thought, word, deed, or omission contrary to the eternal law of God. In judging the gravity of sin, it is customary to distinguish between mortal and venial sins (1849, 1853, 1854)."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, C, Glossary, S)
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