Friday, 17 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 83.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

II. Those circumstances are also to be mentioned by which sins of their own nature venial become mortal (C. aggravantes). Intemperance is not always a mortal sin, but it becomes so when it deprives a man of the use of reason; to steal a cheap tool might of itself be only a venial sin, but if the loss of it deprives a poor artisan of the means of doing a day's work, it becomes mortal. In the same way one ought to mention the mitigating circumstances which make a mortal sin only venial or even no sin at all.

Moralists give seven cases in which circumstances may change a venial into a mortal sin: —

1. Ratione conscientiæ erroneæ, when a man through ignorance thinks a venial sin to be mortal. 2. Ratione scandali vel gravis damni, when grave scandal is given to one's neighbour, doing spiritual or temporal harm; as, for instance, if a priest were to speak lightly of sacred things — thus St. Bernard says: Nugæ inter sæculares nugæ, in ore sacerdotis blasphemiæ sunt; or, again, if a priest behaved lightly with a woman or were seen the worse for drink; or if one were to address a person rather insultingly, foreseeing that he would break out into a great rage and blasphemy ; or if a woman dress vainly and foresee that some young man at the sight of her will sin mortally by impious desires. 3. Ratione pravi finis graviter mali, when, for example, a small lie is told to lead a girl into sin. The evil intention may not only increase the guilt of a sinful action, but it will make an otherwise innocent action sinful. 4. Ratione formalis contemptus legis vel superioris, when a venial sin is committed out of formal contempt for the law or lawgiver, or superior, as when a Catholic on an abstinence day, and quite aware of the duty of abstaining, eats ostentatiously a little flesh-meat to show the slight regard in which he holds the law. 5. Ratione pravi affectus in rem alioqui leviter malam, when a man is so attached to ft venial sin that he would commit it even if it were mortal, or in consequence of this attachment would be ready to commit other mortal sins, as, for instance, if a man chose rather to steal than to overcome his vanity or intemperance. 6. Ratione periculi seu occasionis proximæ in peccatum mortale labendi, when the venial sin is known, or can be known, as a proximate occasion of mortal sin; a man, for example, looks at a person of the other sex or entertains rather familiar relations with her though he knows that such conduct in his case is a proximate occasion of gravely sinful desires or actions. Even actions otherwise neutral or indifferent may for this reason become gravely sinful. 7. Ratione cujuscunque circumstantiæ quæ mortalcm in se malitiam contineat; thus insults, proceeding from envy and desire of revenge, may be mortal sins. Hence these circumstances must be confessed.