Author Topic: Distinction between venial sin and imperfection.  (Read 416 times)

Offline Xavier

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Distinction between venial sin and imperfection.
« on: December 05, 2018, 01:04:10 AM »
Spiritual writers distinguish mortal sin, venial sin and imperfection. A clear distinction between venial sin and imperfection is sometimes hazy. How do you understand the difference and what do you think is the best way to strive after perfection?

 Our Lady was entirely without imperfection, perfectly conforming Her will to that of God's at every instant, with every action of Hers for His greater glory.

Some spiritual writers classify imperfection as only an indeliberate venial sin. Others disagree - and this perhaps is the more common opinion - and say imperfection arises in an act in itself good (whereas venial sin is an act in itself evil) but not done as perfectly as possible. Sometimes, the difference is placed in whether the act is of obligation or not.

The Saints recommend progressing in 3 stages (1) first, striving to overcome mortal sin completely, along with deliberate venial sin; (St. Francis De Sales says this is the true condition necessary for all spiritual progress in Intro to the devout life) (2) second, trying to overcome specific venial sins, and acquiring the habits of the opposite virtues (3) and only in the third stage, we should consciously go after imperfections, by striving to perform as many good works out of love for God as perfectly as possible, because earlier there is a risk of mistaking what is in fact a venial sin as if it were only an imperfection.

Mortal sin is said to be directly opposed to love or charity; venial sin to devotion or to fervent love. The one drives the other out. So, for e.g. practising fervently some devotion is a good remedy to venial sins. It's not clear what imperfection is opposed to - some texts in Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda suggest it may be accepting humiliations or suffering generally, out of love.

Thoughts? A text from Fr. Jordan Aumann on the subject.

Quote
Imperfection and Venial Sin

There are two theological opinions on moral imperfections. The first opinion holds that all positive imperfections are true venial sins. The second opinion maintains that venial sin and imperfection (even positive imperfection) are distinct and that there are imperfections that are not venial sins.

Imperfection is the omission of a good act that is not of obligation or the remiss performance of an act, that is, with less perfection than that of which one is capable. For example, if he possesses the habit of charity with an intensity of sixty degrees, but performs an act of only thirty degrees of intensity, he has performed a remiss act and has on that account committed an imperfection. But it does not follow necessarily that the individual has committed a venial sin. Venial sin is evil, but the act performed is good, even though it is less good than it could have been. In this case we have to look for another element that would make the act a venial sin, for example, contempt, sinful sloth, or deliberate resistance to grace.

Moreover, we should not demand perfection in each and every human action, but should take into account the weakness of our human condition. The most that can be demanded is that individuals do the best they can under the circumstances and then leave the rest to God.

Cardinal Mercier has written as follows on the distinction between mortal sin, venial sin, and imperfections:

Mortal sin is the repudiation of the ultimate end. Venial sin is the fault of a will that does not depart completely from the end but deviates from it. Imperfections are not opposed to the end nor do they depart from it, but they are merely a lack of progress in the direction of the end.
Venial sin is the failure to do a good that could and ought to be a, done; it is, therefore, the privation of a good and for that reason it is an evil, since evil is by definition the privation of good.

Imperfection is the nonacquisition of a good, the simple absence of a good, the negation of a good; and hence, in a strict sense, it is not an evil.
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Offline Non Nobis

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Re: Distinction between venial sin and imperfection.
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2018, 02:56:58 AM »
A priest once told me that to eat just 1 cupcake too many was only an imperfection  :D
I suppose a person must have prudence and a sensitive conscience, neither lax nor scrupulous, to rightly judge such small things as actual venial sins (exactly where are the boundaries of moderation?). But (e.g. in the case of cupcakes!) imperfections can lead to sins.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:00:49 AM by Non Nobis »
[Matthew 8:26]  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

[Job  38:1-5]  Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said: [2] Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskillful words? [3] Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
 
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Offline Christe Eleison

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Re: Distinction between venial sin and imperfection.
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2018, 03:14:04 PM »
Spiritual writers distinguish mortal sin, venial sin and imperfection. A clear distinction between venial sin and imperfection is sometimes hazy. How do you understand the difference and what do you think is the best way to strive after perfection?

 Our Lady was entirely without imperfection, perfectly conforming Her will to that of God's at every instant, with every action of Hers for His greater glory.

Some spiritual writers classify imperfection as only an indeliberate venial sin. Others disagree - and this perhaps is the more common opinion - and say imperfection arises in an act in itself good (whereas venial sin is an act in itself evil) but not done as perfectly as possible. Sometimes, the difference is placed in whether the act is of obligation or not.

The Saints recommend progressing in 3 stages (1) first, striving to overcome mortal sin completely, along with deliberate venial sin; (St. Francis De Sales says this is the true condition necessary for all spiritual progress in Intro to the devout life) (2) second, trying to overcome specific venial sins, and acquiring the habits of the opposite virtues (3) and only in the third stage, we should consciously go after imperfections, by striving to perform as many good works out of love for God as perfectly as possible, because earlier there is a risk of mistaking what is in fact a venial sin as if it were only an imperfection.

Mortal sin is said to be directly opposed to love or charity; venial sin to devotion or to fervent love. The one drives the other out. So, for e.g. practising fervently some devotion is a good remedy to venial sins. It's not clear what imperfection is opposed to - some texts in Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda suggest it may be accepting humiliations or suffering generally, out of love.

Thoughts? A text from Fr. Jordan Aumann on the subject.

Quote
Imperfection and Venial Sin

There are two theological opinions on moral imperfections. The first opinion holds that all positive imperfections are true venial sins. The second opinion maintains that venial sin and imperfection (even positive imperfection) are distinct and that there are imperfections that are not venial sins.

Imperfection is the omission of a good act that is not of obligation or the remiss performance of an act, that is, with less perfection than that of which one is capable. For example, if he possesses the habit of charity with an intensity of sixty degrees, but performs an act of only thirty degrees of intensity, he has performed a remiss act and has on that account committed an imperfection. But it does not follow necessarily that the individual has committed a venial sin. Venial sin is evil, but the act performed is good, even though it is less good than it could have been. In this case we have to look for another element that would make the act a venial sin, for example, contempt, sinful sloth, or deliberate resistance to grace.

Moreover, we should not demand perfection in each and every human action, but should take into account the weakness of our human condition. The most that can be demanded is that individuals do the best they can under the circumstances and then leave the rest to God.

Cardinal Mercier has written as follows on the distinction between mortal sin, venial sin, and imperfections:

Mortal sin is the repudiation of the ultimate end. Venial sin is the fault of a will that does not depart completely from the end but deviates from it. Imperfections are not opposed to the end nor do they depart from it, but they are merely a lack of progress in the direction of the end.
Venial sin is the failure to do a good that could and ought to be a, done; it is, therefore, the privation of a good and for that reason it is an evil, since evil is by definition the privation of good.

Imperfection is the nonacquisition of a good, the simple absence of a good, the negation of a good; and hence, in a strict sense, it is not an evil.

 :thumbsup:  :pray2: :pray3:
 
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Offline james03

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Re: Distinction between venial sin and imperfection.
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2018, 10:21:29 PM »
Informative topic.  I'd offer one warning:  imperfection is better than scruples.  Tread carefully in the pursuit of perfection.  I'd go in the order listed:  Drive out mortal sin, then deliberate venial sin, and then unintentional venial sin.  I doubt anyone makes it that far.  Fr. Ripperger believed only a handful.

I believe perfection would be seen in mastering the virtues, especially the heavy hitters like Prudence, Humility, Charity, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, etc....
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 
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