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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Can One Be Condemned For Little Sins?

May 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Fr. Fortea, Spiritual Warfare, Venial Sin

Father Fortea, can one be condemned for “little” sins?

No. Eternal condemnation is so horrendous, so terrible, that it is reserved for grave sins. Only one ZuberBuhlerFritzTheCherryThieveswho dies in a state of mortal sin is condemned to hell. This being said, every sin, no matter how small, is a step toward greater sin; every sin, no matter how slight, is a step in the direction of condemnation. No one can say: “I will only commit this small sin once and I will never do it again.” Every sin weakens the will, and every fault darkens our understanding a little more. Great sins would not exist without small ones. In its essence, every deliberate sin is one step closer to the precipice, one step closer to eternal damnation.

Some people are under the impression that avoiding “little sins” is just something bishops, priests, and consecrated religious need to be concerned with. These same people claim that laypeople do not need to watch out for venial sins because, after all, they live in the “real” world. This is a serious error. Though venial sins cannot directly cause us to lose our salvation in Christ, we need to avoid them nonetheless. Little sins weaken us and can lead us to commit great sins. Jesus calls every Christian to be holy, to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). There can be no room in our lives for deliberate venial sins.

 

Editor’s Note:  To learn more about spiritual warfare and demonology, Catholic Spiritual Direction recommends Fr. Fortea’s excellent book, Interview With An Exorcist – An Insider’s Look at the Devil, Demonic Possession, and the Path to Deliverance.


Art: The Cherry Thieves, Fritz Zuber-Buhler, date unknown, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea

Father José Antonio Fortea is not only an exorcist, but also a writer, and parish priest. He once thought he would lead what he has termed ordinary life as an attorney in Madrid, much as his father did before him, but sensed instead a vocation to the priesthood in his adolescent years. A theology graduate of Navarre University in Spain, Father Fortea wrote a thesis there on exorcism. He has been a practicing exorcist for several decades.

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  • patricia

    So true Padre I battle with this discussion with others sin is sin and that brings us less closer to God. Thank you for saying something about it.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this straightforward article. How does one know for sure if she has mortal sin still? For serious sins committed in the past as an adolescent or young adult that she later realized could have been mortal? But no longer fully aware of the specifics or number of times…..this always has concerned me, even when I attempt to make a good confession that is thorough. What are the sins considered as grave? Is anger? Judging others? I realize Scrupulosity can affect a person as well in discerning past sins.

    • Jeanette

      Concerning whether to confess sins committed in the distant past as an adolescent/young adult that you later realize could have been mortal….I went to Confession with the same concern and the priest told me that it was not necessary now to confess them as I have been absolved of my sins because of the sacrament of Confession after the fact, BUT he said to confess them if it made me feel better…which I did and it did help me feel better! I hope that helps.

  • Sherry

    It’s rather like little indulgences against one’s diet. One potato chip leads to another, to eventually the weight that weighs down the body.

  • Mike Feehan

    This Priest OBVIOUSLY does not know Scripture…What a JOKE…Not a surprise given that most Catholics do not know Scripture either. He must have missed Romans 6:23 which states that the wages of sin is death or James 2:10 which states that if one breaks one law, he breaks them all…Yep, must have missed out on those ones…Seriously, ROMANS 6:23 refers to SIN, SIN, not mortal or venial…CLUELESS, absolutely clueless…

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Mike – I usually don’t respond to folks that are are combative and take an uncharitable tone like yours but I thought I would just this once. Fr. Fortea is well versed in scripture (no pun intended). Your misunderstanding of Catholicism has obviously fueled an overly negative interpretation of Fr. Fortea’s reflections here. Nothing he said or believes violates Romans 6:23 or James 2:10. With respect to distinction between the gravity of sins, for someone who judges others as not knowing their bible I am surprised you seem to be unaaware of 1 John 5:16-17. As for the remainder of your concerns, if you would like to gain a more accurate understanding of the Church’s position on these matters I would suggest you follow this link: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/04/mortal-venial-sin-garden-variety.html Yours in Christ

      • Anna Dragicevic

        Thank you Dan…

    • LizEst

      As Dan said below, Fr. Fortea has not erred in this. Nevertheless, what you’ve written reminds me of a passage from Scripture: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” cf John 8:7

    • JohnnyVoxx

      Mr. Feehan, Christ gave the Church he founded the power to bind and loose, to “forbid” and “permit” and decreed that whatever the Church bound on Earth would be bound in Heaven and whatever She loosed on Earth would be loosed in Heaven. (Mt: 16:18, 18:18). This authority rests with Peter and the Apostles and their legitimate successors, the Pope and Bishops of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. She has the broad and sweeping authority granted by Christ to make reasonable distinctions as between mortal and venial sins and also the obligation and authority to forgive or retain sins as described in John 20:19-23.

    • $1650412

      OK, Mike, hold it. At first glance I can understand why you think this, but if you will take a moment to consider the whole breadth of Catholic teaching you will see that Fr. Fortea’s point is right on, and I would bet you would prefer his point of view to what you seem to be proposing here. YES, all sin offends God. YES, all sin separates us from God, but! I bet you a million dollars what I call a sin and what you call a sin are pretty significantly different. For example, if I talk about someone else, if a mention an offense I have taken at the actions of another, for example the person in line in front of me at the airport who failed to move their bags to the side when I clearly indicated I was behind him or her, and trying to navigate around them, that would be breaking the 8th commandment. If I got angry and used an expletive when someone cut me off in traffic, I am guilty of sin, breaking the 5th commandment. In fact if I just think a thought that is uncharitable, in the heat of a passing moment of lust, frustration or fear, I sin. Does God condemn me to hell because of these? According to your comments, it seems the black and white answer has to be ‘yes’, unless you want to give the ridiculous notion as theology that all you have to do is make sure in the next moment you are sorry and ask Jesus into your heart etc. What happens if you don’t have the next moment, and all you have is the moment of trial in which you fail? Then what? Well, the fact is that God takes the whole picture into account, and so does Catholic theology. At no point and at no time is it ok to sin, BUT sometimes it is part of the human condition known as weakness, and therefore the process for overcoming and retraining out habitual human weakness is long and arduous. God does not judge according to binary function- He judges according to our relationship with Him, how much do we love Him, or how do we love Him? Is our love only regarding ourselves, and even if our love is imperfect, He works with that too. God is merciful, and mindful we are only dust. He did not die to redeem us, spin up the system and then take a back seat to see if we would get with the program.

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