Good evening dear Father,
I am Mario. I want to ask you a question about the effects of both mortal and venial sin: can my sin negatively affect other people’s behaviour towards me?
I once heard a priest say that committing a sin is like “pressing a button that brings evil into the world”.
Is this statement theologically correct?
For instance, if all this were true, what should we think about those who sin because they suffer from an addiction, and therefore cannot control themselves?
I have been thinking that as prayer affects other people’s behaviour ,sin,harms our souls by means of punishments from God as, for instance, having people, whom I had even been praying for, change their behaviour towards me in a negative way
The Priest’s reply
1. the statement of that priest is theologically correct.
In the Church we are one body, as St Paul reminds us in Romans 12:5when he says: “so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.”
In fact, we all receive the life which sustains us (the grace) from the same Head that is Christ.
2. We are not one body in a purely moral sense, as one may say of an association or a collectivity .
What unites us, in a new and much stronger way than that which unites men in Adam, is the grace, that is the divine life spread in the hearts of men giving life to them through faith and charity.
It is an ontological union, at the level of being , in the supernatural order of grace.
3. As it happens with the limbs of an organic body which are dependent on each other and not just because they are useful to each other, but also because the same vital principle gives life to them, so it also occurs with the Church.4. And since not only the baptized are members of this Body but also those who live in God’s grace(the Church), every action carried out whilst in a state of grace as well as any sin committed have beneficial or harmful effects on the whole Church, on all humanity.
5. John Paul II in Reconciliatio et paenitentia reminded us that “by virtue of a human solidarity as mysterious and imperceptible as it is real and concrete, the sin of each one affects others in some way
This is the other aspect of that solidarity which,on a religious level, develops in the profound and magnificent mystery of the communion of saints, thanks to which it was possible to say that “every soul that rises above itself, also raises the world.”
Unfortunately, to this law of ascent corresponds the law of descent, so thatwecan speak of a communion in sin, by which a soul that humbles itself for sin lowers with itself the Church and, in some way, the whole world.
In other words, there is no sin, even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, which concerns exclusively the one who commits it. With greater or lesser vehemence , with greater or lesser damage, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial structure and on the entire human family” (RP 16).
6. However, this cannot be said indiscriminately of all people “who sin because they suffer from an addiction, and therefore cannot control themselves”, since to commit a real sin and let evil into oneself and, at the same time, into the world, it is necessary to open the door of will .
If there is no deliberate consent of will, the door is not opened to sin .
7. Furthermore , it is not true that sin harms our soul by means of punishments from God”.
We punish ourselves by opening the doors of our life to evil, to sin and to the one who inspires it: the devil.
On the contrary, when sin inspires us , God goes to great lengths to prevent us from harming ourselves and indirectly anyone else .
He does everything He can, He even bothers Heaven because He sends His Angels to help us
8. And after we have sinned, God does not change His attitude towards us, as it happens to us when we change our attitude towards people who offended us and whom we had previously benefited.
Despite our sins, God continues to love us.
He continues tocause “ His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt 5;45).
Unfortunately, it is we who escape His beneficial action by closing the doors of our life to Him and keeping them closed despite the fact that He continues to knock incessantly.
9. On the substantial difference between a moral body and the Mystical Body of the Church, I like to quote this beautiful statement of Pius XII in the encyclical Mystici corporis: “ if we then compare the Mystical Body with a moral one , therefore there is a difference of supreme importance between the two ; In the moral body the principle of unity is none other than common purpose , and common cooperation for the same purpose through social authority ; instead in the Mystical Body of We are dealing with, another internal principle must be added to the common tendency for the same purpose, which exists and acts strongly both in the whole structure and its individual parts,and it is of such excellence as to immensely overcome all the bonds of unity that conglutinate both a physical body and a moral body ,
This, as We said above, is not something of a natural order but a supernatural one, indeed, ; infinite and uncreated in itself, that is, the Divine Spirit which is, as the Angelic Saint Thomas says,“one and identical in number, it fills and unites the whole Church” 🙁De Veritate, 29:4 )”.
I thank you for your question, I bless you and remind you to the Lord.