What is venial sin?

He Venial sin According to Roman Catholicism, is a minor sin that does not result in complete separation from God or eternal damnation, as a mortal sin without repentance.

Venial sin consists in performing acts that should not be done, but are minor sins. They do not break the friendship with God, but they do damage it.

Venial sin

Any act if it is not directed toward what is considered good or right, is defined as sinful. This sin can be mortal or venial. When it comes to venial sin, it is related to issues that are not classified as serious.

Examples of venial sin

For example, an action, even if committed with complete consent and knowledge, may remain a venial sin, as long as the subject to which it refers is not serious.

Saint Thomas Aquinas referred in his Theological Summation To the difference between mortal and venial sin, comparing the difference of both sins with the same distinction between something imperfect and something perfect.

There are three questions with which you can clearly identify what kind of sin has been committed, these are:

  • Does the act relate to any serious matter?
  • Was the act committed with full knowledge of the gravity and the sinful nature of the realization?
  • Was the act done with the full consent of the will?

If all questions have positive answers, sin is a mortal sin. But if one of the three questions has a negative answer, sin is probably venial. If there are doubts in answering the questions, sin is considered a venial sin.

But even though they are not considered serious, venial sins also need some kind of penance. Confession also helps to erase venial sins, although some venial sins can be left without confession if there is a true intention to amend them.

Venial sin prevents the progress of the soul in the exercise of virtue and the practice of moral good, therefore it deserves a temporary penance.

This is why venial sins should not be taken lightly, especially when committed deliberately. No person who does not have a special grace - as was the case with the Virgin Mary - is free to commit venial sins with consent and intention. That is why we must try to overcome venial sins as well as avoid mortal sins.

According to Catholic belief, if a person dies with his soul full of venial sins, he must expiate them in Purgatory, without being able to see God until he cleanses them completely.

Nature of venial sin

It is very difficult to separate what is considered a venial sin as such and one of the most complex questions for Theology. Accordingly, a venial sin would be a mere deviation from the right path, but not a complete aversion like the case of a mortal sin. It is the disease, but not the death of the soul.

In these deviations we find situations that do not seem to generate much damage, but they are offenses to the moral law, such as telling some lies, stealing a small amount of money, unclean thoughts without knowledge of the harmful nature of this, between Other actions.

It is worth considering that a significant number of venial sins do not change their nature, ie 100 venial sins for example, do not constitute a mortal sin.

However, a venial sin can become a mortal sin. For example, if the person who is to commit sin performs the action without being sure of the seriousness of the matter, since even though he does not know it is a mortal sin, he does so.

Also in the case of performing an action that corresponds to a venial sin, but wanting to cause great damage, constitutes a mortal sin. Also when one venial sin can lead to another mortal sin, for example, I am so angry that I can inflict serious harm on another person.

In essence, mortal sin evidences a rejection of God and his teachings, while venial sin is an offense, which can be forgiven and amended through the repentance of the person.

Examples of venial sins

The Catholic catechism describes two types of venial sins. The first is when a person commits a venial sin in a matter that is not as serious as a venial sin, but does not act according to the standards prescribed by the moral law.

Venial sin, then, would be an immoral act, but if the subject to which it refers is not grave or serious, it becomes only a venial sin.

An example is deliberate hatred. This feeling could be a venial sin or a moral one, depending on the seriousness and intensity of hatred. In this case, venial sin would be to hate, for example, a neighbor and wish him evil; But it would become a mortal sin if in addition to hating it, serious harm is desired for the person.

Another similar example could be abusive language, which although it is not a mortal sin, depends on the level of aggressions and offenses that are expressed and the intention in saying them.

The second type of venial sin involves situations where the matter referred is serious enough to be immoral, but the offense committed does not have all the elements that make it a moral sin.

This is what happens in cases where the person disobeys the moral law in a very serious matter, but without full knowledge or total consent.

An example of this second case of venial sin is masturbation. In this venial sin one must consider the moral responsibility of the individual involved, but considering their affective maturity.

The strength of an acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or any other social or psychological factor that may influence, can reduce and minimize moral guilt in this act.

Even on some occasions, something that could be considered a mortal sin, such as slander, may be in particular cases a venial sin. For example, if the person who carried out the slander did so without reflection or under the force of a habit. As you do not intend to harm, your guilt Is reduced.

Venial sins could be considered the trivial offenses that people do every day without adhering to the moral law. That is why believers must always be in an act of contrition, to avoid committing acts that separate them from God.


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  2. What are some examples of venial sins? Retrieved from catholic.com.
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  6. Mortal and venial sin. Lesson 10. Retrieved from olrl.org.
  7. What is the difference between mortal and venial sin? Retrieved from catholicstraightanswers.com.

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