Sin: The Only Real Evil
In response to Metropolitan HERMANIUK’s speech, we give here a brief outline of the Catholic Church’s teaching about sin. It is especially important to know this teaching because Our Lady of Fatima tells us that many souls go to Hell for all eternity because of sin. If more people reflected on these truths less souls would go there.
The world is forever complaining and murmuring about the supposed evils that oppress it. It complains of poverty, of hard work, of pain and sickness, and of disease and death. But can such things be truly called evils? Can we rightly stigmatize as evil that which may be made an occasion of immense good? How can we truly say, for instance, that poverty is an evil, when Our Divine Lord Himself, says: — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”(Matt. 6:3)? Or again, are hard work and labor and early tribulations to be reckoned as evils when we know that it is “through many tribulations that we must enter into the Kingdom of God”(Acts 14:21)? Are disease and suffering and sickness to be classed among evils, when we are well aware that, if patiently borne, they will purchase for us eternal treasures, far beyond anything that the world can offer us? Why! To one who is serving God faithfully, even death itself is a blessing. For to such a one death is but the flinging open of the prison doors, and the entry of the soul into ecstatic joys which will have no end. Surely then, none of these things should be looked upon as evil!
As a matter of fact, and if rightly understood, there is but one only evil — but one thing that may rightly and justly bear the name. I call that thing evil, which is so powerful and so terrible that it can, in a moment, transform an Angel into a devil, a Saint into a demon, and blast the whole of my eternal career. I call that thing evil which can deprive me, at one fell stroke, of the supreme end for which I have been created, and that can rob me in an instant of the accumulated graces and merits of a life-time; take from me the very power of meriting; change God Himself from a loving Father into an angry Judge; that can — in a word — close the gates of Heaven for ever against me, and open wide the dreadful portals of hell to receive me. Now there is only one thing that possesses this awful power, and that one thing is sin. I need fear nothing else, for nothing else can do me any permanent injury.
So long as I maintain myself, having been baptized, in a “state of a grace,” and am truly repentant of all serious sin, I am a child of God, a brother of Jesus Christ, an heir to the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven. My soul reflects the supreme beauty of God Himself, I even share in His divine life (2 Peter 1:4), and am destined to be the companion of the glorious company of Saints and Angels in God’s heavenly home.
Now neither poverty, nor sickness, nor persecution, nor any temporal misfortune nor even death itself has any power whatsoever to deprive me of any one of these infinite treasures. There is one thing only that can rise to dispute my claim to my sublime and eternal destiny, and that can wreck my entire being; that one thing is Sin.
Our natural life consists of the union of body and soul. Death is their separation. The supernatural life of the soul consists of the supernatural union of the soul and God. The death of the soul consists, not in its annihilation, for it is immortal, but in its separation from God.
As God is infinite, this may be described as an Infinite Evil, an Infinite Loss.
Every thinking man who has tried in vain to solve for himself the problem of evil must consider the solution just outlined. It is the only satisfactory solution, since it embodies the teaching of Christ.
The Catholic Church, as the Church founded by Christ, and the only authoritative interpreter of His teaching, gives the one adequate explanation of the evil in the world, and offers the only real remedy.