The Crux of the Matter 2
Topic: Four Consequences of Sin
By Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM
The Fathers of Mercy
As Christians, we know that sin is always a personal act. Even though it might be carried out with another (as in the case of adultery), or with others (as in the case of multiple robbers working together to rob a bank), sin is always committed by one’s personal choice. In fact, the time-honored teaching of the Church has always defined sin as an offense against God as well as an offense against truth and one’s reason and right conscience.
As such, the Church teaches that there are four categorical consequences to every sin: personal, social, ecclesial and cosmic. In other words, each and every sin committed – whether venial or mortal – affects the individual personally (say, by causing friction with self), socially (it affects his or her relationship with others), ecclesially (wherein the body of Christ itself, the Church, is disrupted) and cosmically (just read Chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis to see how the very cosmos – creation itself – was affected by the sin of our first parents!).
The good news, however, is that these four areas of disruption are healed through the Sacrament of Reconciliation – Confession – precisely because of Almighty God’s divine intervention. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1469), quoting our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, states, “It must be recalled that…this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself (personal) in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren (social) whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church (ecclesial). He is reconciled with all creation” (cosmic).
As there is disruption between the sinner and these four areas, so is their healing between the penitent and these four areas. This is the Good News of reconciliation. This is the Good News of redemption. This is the Good News of salvation.