While we may realize that we can have no false gods other than the Holy Trinity -- three Persons in One God -- we may not realize that there are many ways to sin against the First Commandment and most of them are most grievous. Such sins often are sins agains the faith such as infidelity, apostasy, heresy and indifferentism or lukewarmness. Then there are sins against religion that encompass everything from witchcraft to sacrilege to idolatry which can come in many forms and which the devil so deviously inserts in our path that we must be aware 7-24 to avoid the pitfalls the evil one lays out before us dressed in such a tantalizing way. Beware. For one needs to be aware of how we can commit sins against Faith, Hope and Charity that can be devastating to our chances of gaining eternal life if we are not fully repentant with an amendment to change our ways. Once one begins to fall, it is hard to stop the plunge and that is why it is so important to either stay away from the ledge or equip one's spiritual life with a strong harness to pull ourselves away from the abyss. In all things avoidance and abstinence are the best course to follow for the safety of our souls and to always remember, Christ's words in St. Matthew 12: 30, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters"
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
If we love God, no sacrifice is too great to offer Him for His pleasure. Millions of martyrs have been glad to give their lives for their faith. During the great persecutions under the pagan Roman emperors, thousands were taken to the arena to be torn by wild beasts. Thousands of others were covered with pitch and lighted as torches. All kinds of human tortures were invented to make the Christians deny their faith. But their pure love of God caused them to be firm and to meet death gladly.
A Catholic sins against faith by infidelity, apostasy, heresy, indifferentism, and by taking part in non-Catholic worship. We may lose our faith by:
INFIDELITY is the unbelief of one to whom the truths of faith have been sufficiently proposed, but who nevertheless deliberately refuses to accept them. It also means the ignorance of the Faith by one who has had no chance to learn it, or who does not realize the importance of learning.
Persons, who do not believe in Christianity as a divinely revealed religion, are commonly referred to as "infidels." Infidelity is refusal to believe in anything that cannot be perceived by the senses, or comprehended with the understanding.
But is it not utterly reasonable to have faith in an almighty God, Who knows much more than we can ever hope to know, and Who can do things beyond our understanding? It is necessary that we serve God in the way He requires, not in the way it pleases us to do so. For this reason we must practice the religion revealed by God, and avoid making up our own religions according to our whims and innumerable fancies. Buddhists, Mohammedans, Hindus, Jews, and pagans, are, in the sense of this definition, infidels because they do not believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world. As politically incorrect as that may sound today, it is true and the declaration Dominus Jesus released by the Vatican earlier this month confirms this.
APOSTASY is complete rejection of the truths of the Christian faith by one who has been baptized. A vicious and sinful life often leads to apostasy. No really good man has ever fallen away from the Christian faith.
An apostate denies or gives up his religion through fear or shame, or through worldly motives or human respect, and denies Christ Himself. He is under sentence of eternal damnation, for Christ says: "Whoever disowns Me before men, I in turn will disown him before My Father in Heaven" (St. Matthew 10:33). It may happen that a Catholic gives up his religion because he had a quarrel with the priest. He crucifies Christ because of a petty disagreement with a mortal. Such a man should ever remember that "he who loses his goods loses much; he who loses his life, loses more; but he who loses his faith loses all."
HERESY is the refusal of baptized persons to accept one or more of the truths revealed by God and taught by the Catholic Church. If this refusal is voluntary and obstinate, there is formal heresy; if it is involuntary, there is material heresy.
A heretic claims to be Christian, but denies one or more truths revealed by God. Members of Protestant denominations are heretics. Much of their heresy, however, is negative, or material; that is, accompanied by no obstinacy of the will; for example, the heresy of a Protestant who has always believed his is the religion ordained by God. That is why it is difficult for them, following Vatican II and many of the concessions Church members made without Council approval, to accept the Church's doctrine of "No Salvation Outside the Church."
INDIFFERENTISM is the error of those who hold that one religion is as good as another and that all religions are equally true and pleasing to God or that one is free to accept or reject any or all religions. Many a Catholic does not want totrouble himself about studying his religion, and gradually loses his faith. This is happening at an alarming rate today. While we know Vatican II is to blame that expedited the domino effect in society. Yet when it comes to accountability, the real blame lies with the persons themselves who have to answer to God for their own actions with no excuses.
A soul is like a plant; it needs to be watered continuously by the truths and practices of religion. Unless it is so nourished, it will sicken and perish. Why should Christ, and after Him the Apostles and after them a long line of Catholics, have suffered so much and resisted persecution so firmly, if it were of no importance what a man believed? It is absurd to suppose that God does not care whether men denounce His Son as an impostor and blasphemer, or worship Him as God.
A Catholic sins against faith by taking an active part in non-Catholic worship, because he thus professes belief in a religion he knows is false. When necessary, for social obligations, a Catholic may be present at a non-Catholic wedding or funeral, but participation in the services is not encouraged.
It is a sin to belong to any society, which is opposed to the Church. Freemasonry, or Masonry, is condemned by the Church. Many charitable persons, who have joined Masonry or the Shriners merely for social or business reasons, do not understand the stand of the Church. Most of them serve only the Third Degree, and hold no spirit of antagonism against the Church; but these good persons do not realize the basic purposes of their organization.
In actual fact, Freemasonry is a religious sect bent upon the destruction of the Catholic Church. It has its own doctrines, priesthood, and ritual; it has its own characteristic morality. For instance, it imposes an oath that requires blind obedience; it does not accept Divine Revelation. "By their fruits ye shall know them," and the fruits of Freemasonry are evident throughout European history. Though the Church has had its dark times in history, always there have been fruits because it is a "good tree" - the True Tree.
Sadly today, those who follow the false church, the counterfeit church of conciliarism and who acknowledge the head of Modernist Rome as a true pope when the infallible, perennial Magisterium of the Church has provided proof such men who have followed Pope Pius XII cannot possibly be, are in apostasy. The majority of these poor clueless souls have no idea they are and as for their judgment, that is in God's hands for He alone can judge the heart. But we, as loyal Catholics must judge the words and actions of men and when they go against the teachings of holy Mother Church that says it all. Though they claim to be Catholic, the fact they do not embrace ALL the doctrines the Church and her Founder demand simply makes them modern-day Protestants and not in union with Eternal Rome. In effect, by their persistent actions with no repentance they have excommunicated themselves from the Church (latae sententiae).
A Catholic can best safeguard his faith by making frequent acts of faith, by praying for a strong faith, by studying his religion very earnestly, by living a good life, by good reading, by refusing to associate with the enemies of the Church, and by not reading books and papers opposed to the Church and her teaching.
Acts of faith are prayers said to tell God we believe in Him. Pleasing to God also are prayers of faith, such as the Apostles made to the Lord: "Increase our faith" (St. Luke 17:5). The more we believe, the firmer our faith becomes, by God's grace.
We should study our religion well, especially the Christian doctrine. If we have any doubts about it, we should consult a good spiritual adviser or confessor. Many have lost their religion by misunderstanding its doctrines.
A strong bulwark to faith is a good life. Never does a just man, living according to the teachings of the Church, lose his faith. To increase in faith, let us go to Confession and receive Holy Communion often, that our spirits may be nourished by divine food.
Those who lead bad lives may easily lose their faith. They try to convince themselves that there is no God, no religion, in order to justify their wickedness, or to silence their conscience. They try to convince themselves that they have control of their own bodies and can therefore justify abortion, sexual promiscuity and all sorts of other sins and perversities. But it doesn't work for there is no justification in violating God's Commandments.
We must take care that the movies, TV programs, web content, cd's, books and magazines we read are neither wicked nor against the doctrines of the Church. The problem today is that there is such a plethora of this with so much white noise out there that it takes a total commitment to avoid the near occasions of sin and in this 7-24 society so dependent on technology it is very, very difficult to be isolated from these temptations. Yet, the eyes are windows of the soul; through them it may be attracted to good or evil.
We must also refrain from being intimate with enemies of the Church, who speak against it and assail it on all occasions. Let us avoid pitfalls that we may not fall into them. Most political correctness today goes against the Commandments and the will of God. As the Church Militant, we must be on vigil against this takeover by satan and do all in our power to preserve and foster the traditions, teachings and treasures of the Church.
We worship God by the virtue of religion by adoring Him alone as the one and Supreme Being, the chief expression of adoration being prayer. We adore God by acknowledging His infinite excellence, our complete dependence upon Him, our absolute subjection to His will; we pray to God by lifting up our minds and hearts to Him.
Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, veneration of saints, relics, and images, are not opposed to this virtue. We do not worship the saints; we only honor them as the special friends and servants of God. We adore God alone. Neither do we worship images and sacred pictures or relics. We only pay them honor as belonging to or representing God or the saints. In a similar manner we commonly cherish the photographs of our dear friends.
The principal sins against the virtue of religion are: superstition, spiritism, sacrilege, idolatry, and simony. We fail in our duty of worship when we spend all our lives for the world, for material interests, in pride, lust, or avarice.
A person sins by SUPERSTITION when he attributes to a creature a power that belongs to God alone. Examples of superstitious practices are: the use of charms or spells, belief in dreams or fortune telling. As today practiced, all these superstitions are mere nonsense: they may be taken only as some social fun, like Bingo. Only idiots actually believe in these practices, in mascots, omens, astrology.
As today practiced, manifestations of superstitions beliefs are fraudulent. Those "magicians" merely perform sleight-of-hand tricks: the "witches" "fortune-tellers", and "spiritists" only use their sharp faculties of observation and their retentive memory.
And yet there are still unintelligent persons who believe in lucky and unlucky days and numbers: they believe finding a horseshoe is good luck, breaking a mirror means seven years' bad luck, and so on. On the contrary, all is nonsense. However we also must realize that satan, as the fallen angel, can produce things to suck people into believing in these superstitions.
A charm is anything used with the belief that it has magic power to protect. Spells are words by the saying of which the superstitious believe evil can be averted or good fortune obtained. It is foolish to interpret dreams, because they are most often the result of too heavy a supper. The "dreams" in the Holy Scripture and the lives of the saints are, more properly speaking, revelation or inspiration rather than dreams; God uses particular means for exceptional cases.
SPIRITISM consists in attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead, or with other spirits, usually by the use of mediums and séances. Magic refers to manifestations of wonders, through the intervention of evil spirits, whether real or pretended, going as far as invocation of devils.
There is no positive proof that a spiritist or magician has been able to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Houdini, who was the greatest of all magicians, laid a public wager that he would reproduce any spiritistic manifestation by using purely natural means.
If there were such a thing as fortune telling, why do not those fortune-tellers improve their own fortunes by foretelling the rise of the stock market and buying up all the stock? Then they would not need to labor at the telling of fortunes at only so much per fortune predicted.
A person sins by SACRILEGE when he mistreats sacred persons, places, or things. Sacrilege is a kind of blasphemy consisting of the violation or profanation of a person, place, or thing consecrated to God. For example, it is sacrilege incurring excommunication to lay violent hands upon a priest, a nun, or any other person consecrated to God. It is sacrilege to commit acts of impurity or of violence, like killing or fighting, in a church or consecrated grave yard, to receive the sacraments unworthily, to steal sacred vessels or other Church property, to do damage in a church, to despise relics and holy pictures, mutilate images, etc.
Baltassar, King of Babylon, was guilty of sacrilege when he used the sacred vessels of the Temple of Jerusalem as drinking cups at a feast. His punishment, as announced by the handwriting on the wall, is well known. In order to avoid possible disrespect to sacred images and holy pictures that are already too old to use , we should burn them. Sadly today, with the advent of the new modernist church architecture, many of these sacramentals and sacred images are being discarded or worse, sold, and used for secular purposes such as a monstrance for a planter, or communion railings or an altar as a part of the decor of bars in nightclubs. We know, we have rescued several sacramentals over the years from such sacrileges. Though if any of these vessels are used in Novus Ordo services that in itself is sacrilege.
A person sins by IDOLATRY when he pays to a creature the supreme worship due to God alone as Creator and Preserver of all things. In the early days of Christianity, many Christians were put to death for refusing to burn incense before idols. The old Egyptians, and many pagans today, worship the sun, fire, or animals like the crocodile. God punished the Israelites for their idolatry. Another form of idolatry is our entertainment today when we have made entertainers in music and acting and sports celebrities idols. We have come to regard the great cathedrals of America as the football stadiums where everything stops on Sunday, attendance at church or family time be damned.
One who knows the Catholic Church to be the True Church, yet refuses to join and obey it, is guilty of resisting the known Christian truth, a form of idolatry, since by it one stubbornly denies due worship to God. The doctrine "No Salvation Outside the Church" definitely holds true here.
The Scribes and Pharisees knew well all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Jesus Christ proved Himself the promised Messiah by wonderful miracles, after announcing Himself as the Son of God. But their pride was a barrier to their humble acknowledgment of Jesus; they calumniated and persecuted Him to the limit. They were guilty of resisting the known Christian truth. Freemasons, especially those who were born and bred Catholics, may be guilty of this sin if they will not permit a true priest to approach them on their deathbed: "They stop their ears, not to hear, and make their heart as the adamant stone" (Zacharia 7:11).
A person sins by SIMONY when he buys or sells sacred or spiritual things or positions. The term "simony" comes from Simon Magus, who offered the Apostles money to give him the power of giving the Holy Ghost (Acts 8: 19-20). It is simony to sell a rosary for more than its ordinary price on account of a blessing it has. Thus sold, indulgenced objects lost their indulgence.
Giving a true priest money to say a Mass for our intention is not simony, because we do not and cannot buy a Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The money is only an offering towards the materials for the Mass, and to help support the priest. This is right and proper for St. Paul said, "They who serve the altar have their share with the altar. So also the Lord directed that those who preach the Gospel should have their living from the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:14). It would not be for the dignity of the priesthood nor for the benefit of religious work if priests needed to labor at secular occupations to support themselves. The same holds true for nuns and other religious and dedicated lay people who devote their lives to spreading the gospel.
"There arose a new king over Egypt…and he said to his people: Behold, the people of the children of Israel are numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us wisely oppress them, lest they multiply…Therefore he set over them masters of the works to afflict them with burdens, and they built for Pharaoh cities...And the Egyptians hated the children of Israel, and afflicted them, and mocked them. And they made their life bitter with hard works in clay, and brick, and with all manner of service, wherewith they were overcharged in the works of the earth….And the Lord said to Moses: 'I have seen the affliction of My people in Egypt, and I have heard their cry, because of the rigour of them that are over the works'" (Exodus 1: 8-14; 3:7). God still hears the cry of the poor.
The sins against hope are presumption and despair. A person sins by PRESUMPTION when he trusts that he can be saved by his own efforts without God's help, or by God's help without his own efforts. One who relies on his own powers, on his friends, or on earthly things more than on God commits presumption. He thus puts his hope on "strange gods" in competition with Almighty God. Such hope is purely human, not supernatural, Heavenly, or Christian.
Such hope is built on sand, as how many have found out to their distress! Peter thought he was strong, and denied his Lord. It is this humankind of hope, this presumption that causes one to expose oneself to occasions of sin; in the belief that one has the strength to resist. "Follow not in thy strength the desires of thy heart: and say not: How mighty am I!" (Ecclesiastes 5: 2-3). "It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man" (Psalm 117:8).
It is presumption to commit sin boldly, pleading that God easily pardons sinners. Our confidence in God's mercy must always go hand in hand with our knowledge of His justice. In this way, even while we trust in our merciful Father, we have a salutary fear of His judgments, God wishes us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.
Nobody can be absolutely sure that he is safe from hell that he will persevere in justice till death. What happened to Solomon with all his wisdom, and the blessings God rained on him! "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall!" (1 Corinthians 10-12).
We must not tempt God by exposing ourselves to sin and its occasions in the hope that God will protect and save us; this is presuming on God's mercy. We can be sure of God's help only if we try our best to do His will. "He that loveth danger shall perish in it" (Ecclesiastes 3:27). The greatest of saints took as their watchword regarding sin, "Safety in flight", -- flight from all occasions that might tempt them to sin. However, those who by their profession or necessity are compelled to expose themselves to even proximate occasions of sin must humbly put their trust in God; He will surely protect them.
It is presumption to expect to be saved by faith alone, without attempting to accomplish good works; to hope to obtain forgiveness of our sins without penance; or while hoping in God's mercy to remain in the state of sin, and put off conversion. Our Lord said clearly, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice and all these things shall be given you besides" (St. Matthew 6:33).
A person sins by despair when he deliberately refuses to trust that God will give him the necessary help to save his soul. DESPAIR is an abandonment of all hope for obtaining eternal salvation and the means of attaining it. Despair is wicked, because it is a denial of the goodness of God, and His willingness to forgive.
Adam and Eve's first son Cain was guilty of this sin when he cried out after murdering his brother Abel, "My sin is too great to be forgiven" (Genesis 4:13). He is guilty of despair who believes he cannot resist certain temptations, overcome certain sins, or amend his life. Despair results in temporal as well as spiritual evil, because often those in despair commit suicide, as Judas did.
When tempted to despair, let us remember that God is infinitely merciful, that He is nearest when our need for Him is greatest, and that there is no sin that He will not forgive if we go to Him with a repentant heart.
To avoid sin we may ponder on God's justice and the fear of God; but once we have fallen into sin, let us meditate on His infinite mercy. Let us remember that God is the Good Shepherd Who goes out to seek His sheep that have fallen among the thorns of life. St. John Chrysostom says, "As a spark is to the ocean, so is the wickedness of man compared to the mercy of God." "But if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just, and He is a propitiation for our sins, not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
The chief sins against charity are hatred of God and of our neighbor, sloth, envy, and scandal. Without charity, faith and hope will profit us nothing, for God will not open the gates of His Kingdom except to those that love Him. "If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have charity, I have become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Every grave sin is a violation of charity, because it destroys the love of God. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). HATRED of God, or of one's neighbor, is a special offense against charity; by it one desires evil or harm to befall, or rejoices at the misfortune of others.
To desire death from a yearning for Heaven in order to be reunited with God is not wrong. The Apostle Paul himself sighed, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). "I am…desiring to depart and to be with Christ" (Phillip 1:23). But to desire death out of impatience or despair, or to wish death or misfortune to another out of selfishness or hatred, is sinful. This includes the silent condoning of the sin of abortion by not doing anything when one knows it is a sin. Yes, it also is a sin when one supports or votes for candidates, who willfully and openly promote the sin of abortion or promote lifestyles and issues that are in violation of the laws of God. "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (St. Matthew 12: 30).
SLOTH is a sin against charity, because it paralyzes the faculties of the soul. One who is ruled by sloth is too lazy to love God or his neighbor, because such love or zeal takes trouble. Sloth begets tepidity and indifference. Someone has said with truth that a great sinner may become a great saint but a slothful person, never.
One is guilty of ENVY if one is bitter about another's good fortune, considering such as detraction from one's own well-being. Envy is the sin of the devil, the sin above all that implies malice, the sin that leads to calumny, gossip, hatred, and other sins. The best means of overcoming envy is to do every good possible to our neighbor, especially to the one that we are tempted to envy. There is no reason for envy; it will not make us any richer, more popular, more satisfied. Satan envied Adam and Eve, so happy in Paradise. The Pharisees envied Jesus Christ the wonderful miracles He worked, and His consequent great following.
SCANDAL is given when we injure our neighbor's soul by causing or tempting him to sin. As charity helps him towards Heaven, so scandal pushes him towards hell. Our Lord said that at the end of the world the angels "will gather out of His kingdom all scandals…and cast them into the furnace of fire, where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth" (St. Matthew 13: 41-42). Also, "Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!" (St. Matthew 18: 7).
Catholicism Made Simple