Catholics and Sin

by Francis J. Remler, C.M. 1940

Nihil Obstat: Henry J. Zolzer, Censor librorum
Imprimi Potest: Marshal F. Winne, C.M., Provincialis
Imprimatur: Thomas H. McLaughlin, Bishop of Paterson

All approvals done June 30, 1940


Catholics today are profoundly affected by the attitude of the neo-pagan society around them, which laughs at the idea of sin. The result is inevitable. Sins of all kinds are multiplying in our midst.The Sacrament of Penance

Some of our number, it is plain, harbor the hazy persuasion that sin ceases to be sin simply because it is committed by a great many people. They seem to hold the fatal delusion that a sinful and sin-loving multitude is able to change or to abolish the eternal law of God, to turn evil into good and good into evil. How totally different their attitude would be if they could see the havoc sin creates in the soul as they can see the havoc that certain loathsome diseases create in the human body; or if they could for a moment look into that sea of fire by which unforgiven sin is punished in eternity.  But the knowledge of sin, of its nature and effects, is not a matter of observation or science. It is a matter of supernatural faith. In the light of this faith we learn that sin, especially mortal sin, is the one and only real evil in the world. All other so-called “evils” are only apparent evils; they can all be converted into means of grace and glory.

To assist our Catholic readers to revive their faith in the sinfulness of sin, we have composed this little pamphlet. May God by His grace enlighten them as to the nature and effects of this evil. To escape these they should be willing to sacrifice everything they hold dear in life; yes, even to lose life itself is better than to run the risk of being cast into “hell, into unquenchable fire, into the hell of fire where their worm [of remorse] dieth not, and where the fire is not extinguished (cf. Mark 9:42-49).

In an age when many representatives of godless science and many votaries of sensual pleasure flatly deny the very existence of sin, laugh at it and call it a foolish superstition, Catholics must needs stir up their faith in this important truth of the Christian religion. F. J. R.


Is SIN an exploded idea? Has the Church's teaching on the subject been disposed of by modern science? Does the old conception of sin stand exposed as the mere by-product of man's superstitious fear of an angry God? Is the doctrine of human sinfulness only a man-made device to obstruct the free enjoyment of the pleasures this life holds out to men?

Every one of these statements can be heard today. And at the same time a very grave situation can be observed. Actions that only half a century ago were universally condemned and repressed, are now not only committed openly, but also advocated boldly as being the legitimate expression of man's natural inclinations and cravings. That there is a direct connection between this growing license and the denial of sin, cannot be doubted. And it is an urgent duty of Christians to do all in their power to re-establish God's teaching about the evil of sin, to help those who are sin's victims to repent and return to God, and to preserve the innocent from the misfortune of falling into sin.

We are addressing ourselves principally to Catholics. Many of them, unhappily, are infected with the errors current in the world about the nature and effects of moral evil.  They have no appreciation of the sinfulness of sin. Else how could so many of them be so heedless of even very grievous violations of God's law? How could they fail to feel horror at what their holy faith tells them is the only real evil in all the world? How could they commit even the most serious sins of injustice, hatred, enmity, revenge and impurity, without the least hesitation and fear if it were not that they have no appreciation of the sinfulness of sin?

Such Catholics take their cue from the pagan society around them, and not from the clear and definite teachings of Jesus Christ. Instead of squaring their conduct by the Ten Commandments and the precepts and maxims of the Gospel, they listen to the world and shape their lives by its ideals; they become slavish imitators of the example of the godless men and women among whom they live.

Now it must be kept in mind that the world without Christ's teaching is essentially pagan; it is pagan despite the thin veneer of Protestant Christianity that overlies it in places. There are many millions living today in whose life and conduct God and His holy law have no place. A century-long system of education divorced from religion has in the fourth and fifth generations produced a race of men and women who have no more idea of God, of salvation, of heaven and hell, of virtue and sin, than the untutored savages of the jungle. They lead a purely natural life. “They are of the earth, earthy” (1 Cor. 15:47).

What is all this but rankest paganism? For paganism is not primarily the worship of man-made deities; it is essentially a life without God, a life in which the three great lusts, of pride, greed and impurity, hold undisputed sway. Paganism is essentially the servitude of sin.

Without the enlightenment that comes from the Gospel, society is plunged into dense spiritual darkness. Men cannot see their eternal destiny, nor the way that leads to it. They grope hopelessly about, taking good to be evil, evil good. In particular, whatever calls for self-denial and suffering is called evil and to be avoided; whatever promises sensual gratification is considered good and lawful.

It is in the midst of this “perverse and adulterous generation,” as our Divine Lord calls the world, that Catholics must live and work out their eternal destiny. Is it to be wondered at if many are misled by the errors and corrupted by the bad example of the millions who recognize no God and who look upon sin as superstition and virtue as folly?


For the right evaluation of sin, the enlightenment that comes through faith is absolutely necessary. Only thereby can we see the true nature and character of sin, and its effects on the human soul in time and in eternity. A man without faith is in regard to sin like a blind man in regard to leprosy. As a blind man can have no appreciation of the hideous deformity leprosy produces in the body --even in his own so a man without faith cannot perceive the still more hideous deformity sin produces in the soul of another or of himself.

Men without the Christian faith may even recognize and admit that a given action is improper, immoral and hurtful to the individual, the family and society for instance, dishonesty, theft, murder, perjury, adultery; but they can have no idea of the spiritual deordination and deformity such an action produces in the soul. All that these people perceive is the exterior ugliness of the action, the shamefulness that attaches to it in the eyes of men, and the physical harm it inflicts on the evildoer or his fellow-men; they have no conception of its much greater invisible guilt and malice; that is, they have no idea how it appears in the eyes of God. For sin is essentially spiritual and invisible, not material and visible. Hence it cannot be perceived by the bodily senses.

According to the teachings of faith, sins are twofold in regard to their effects on the soul: mortal and venial. The effects of a mortal sin are:

  1. It is a most grievous insult and affront offered to the Infinite Majesty of God;
  2. It deprives the soul of its supernatural life, that is, of sanctifying grace;
  3. With this loss of sanctifying grace also goes the loss of the sonship of God and of the right to heavenly glory; and
  4. It entails the everlasting punishment of hell.

Venial sin produces these effects:

  1. It is an insult offered to God;
  2. It weakens grace and the love of God;
  3. It predisposes to mortal sin;
  4. It incurs temporal punishment.


In the light of faith, we have said, we know that sin is essentially an internal act, an act of the intellect and will, known to be at variance with, and in opposition to, the holy will and law of God. Hence it can exist in its most hideous and repulsive forms in the unseen regions of the soul, defiling it, destroying its supernatural life and rendering it an object of loathing to God, even though not a single sign of it is manifest to the senses.

An outward action will make the sin known to others; it will often add to its gravity by entailing injury to others; but it does not constitute the essence of the sin. As soon as the will gives its assent to what the intellect recognizes as being opposed to God's will and law, the sin is committed before God. Hence a man may be a murderer or an adulterer in the sight of God weeks or months before he has the chance to carry out his evil designs, simply because he has made up his mind to kill a man, or to sin with another man's wife.

This most important truth about the nature of sin is clearly stated by our Divine Saviour: “From within out of the heart of men proceed: evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, false testimonies, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23; Matt. 15:9).

Where faith is wanting, therefore, men are bound to ignore sin, or to take a radically wrong view of it. Internal sins are not considered at all, and external sins are looked upon as merely so many passing undesirable actions. This is one reason why so many will tell us that they cannot see how God could condemn a man to hell for a single act; they have no idea of the profound change, the horrible disfigurement, that sin produces in the soul, of the real spiritual death it inflicts by depriving the soul of grace --- which death will continue forever unless a timely conversion intervenes and that soul is restored to supernatural life. However, such persons might well consider that even in physical life, a passing act may have permanent consequences. The act of piercing the heart with a bullet is momentary, but the effect is the death of the body. This example might serve as an illustration or parallel for what a single sin does to the soul except that in the case of sin, the effects are hidden from the physical eye.

The world around us, by and large, has lost the light of the Christian faith. In consequence, its ideas about this spiritual malady of the soul are more utterly false than were the ideas current about disease before the days of Pasteur, Koch, Roentgen and other eminent men of science who taught us the causes of disease. As only the light which science sheds on the true nature of disease makes its prevention or cure possible, so also only the light of faith makes it possible for us to know the true nature of the spiritual disease called sin. And as the loss of present-day scientific knowledge of disease would mean the rapid spread of deadly contagions, so too the loss of faith is bound to bring in its train the rapid multiplication of sins of all kinds.


Outside the Catholic Church, then, there is less and less sense of sin; increasingly many deny its existence altogether. The denial is promulgated in lecture rooms, in novels, in magazine articles, in the movies.  More and more boldly is it asserted that it is as lawful to gratify any of one's impulses as it is to still one's hunger and to quench one's thirst. And, as is to be expected, this is applied especially to the sensual realm, to those pleasures which, because they are associated with one of man's deepest instincts, nature craves so intensely and so persistently.


It is easily seen that this widely prevalent pagan view is bound to be a source of great danger to our Catholic people. Living, in the proportion of one to five, among men and women who are non-Catholic; making close contacts with them day in, day out, in school, business and society; often joined with them in family alliances, through mixed marriages; continually reading literature that advocates immoral principles and contains suggestive stories and indecent pictures; attending schools where God and religion are neglected, or may even be sneered at and ridiculed, covertly or openly it is easy to understand how Catholics, especially the poorly instructed, soon come to feel the impact of unchristian views on the evil of sin. Many among them too begin to consider it a non-existent thing, or at most a trifle; and yielding to the pressure of the bad example around them, commit it without the least hesitation or fear. More, many come to claim the right to commit it. Remonstrate with them, and they will indignantly demand a reason why they should not be allowed to do what everybody else is doing.

What confessor has not encountered penitents who have argued with him when he told them of the necessity of avoiding wilful near occasions of grievous sins, such as the reading of bad books, or the frequenting of suggestive movies, or the keeping of unlawful and sinful company? “Why shouldn't I do what everybody is doing?” is the not infrequent retort. These persons have lost the sense of the evil of sin and the heinousness of sinful practices in the eyes of God. Their outlook on morality is not Christian, but pagan. They sin readily, and without remorse of conscience, without the repentance necessary for salvation.


Let us take a few examples to show how the view many Catholics take of sin is colored by that of their non-Catholic surroundings. There is in the first place the cancer-like evil of divorce, with its frequent companion evil of adulterous remarriage. There are not a few Catholics who hold pagan views of this grievous violation of the holy law of God, and are in sympathy with it, even if they do not make a practical application of it in their own lives. But there are even those who go the limit, obtain a divorce, and then commit the heinous sin of contracting a second, adulterous union.

Either they have no realization of the gravity of these sins, or they are trampling on their consciences and allowing themselves to be directed by the pagan idea that divorce is a perfectly lawful thing, simply because the State has sanctioned it. It never seems to enter into their minds that morality is not determined by state legislation. Regardless of legal enactments, a man has no more right to practice adultery than to practice robbery or murder.

If every government in the world declared these actions lawful, it could no more change the immutable law of God than a legal decree could change the course of the sun or of the stars in the heavens. “What everybody is doing must be right” is a maxim of the modern world that has apostatized from God.


Then there is the widespread prevalence, even in Catholic circles, of deliberate birth limitation by sinful means. This sin has become so common that it is recognized by medical and political authorities to be a danger threatening the extinction of several of the civilized white nations. The evil has grown by leaps and bounds since the World War, partly because of economic conditions, partly through the intensely active propaganda that has been carried on in many countries by the agents of Satan.

What inroads this destructive evil has made in Catholic ranks it is impossible to determine. It would seem, however, that they are alarmingly extensive, if any reliance can be placed on partial statistics. In the year 1933 the number of Catholic marriages reported in the Catholic Directory was about 165,000. This was the lowest since 1928. In the two years 1934 and 1935 the increase over 1933 was no less than about 78,000. Yet in spite of this great increase of marriages, the number of infant Baptisms in 1936 --- when the effects of the increase of 78,000 marriages should have been felt --- decreased by nearly 8,000. In 1938 there were approximately 100,000 fewer infant Baptisms than there were in 1928. What can account for this tremendous loss? True, it cannot all be blamed on birth limitation many other causes, not sinful, must be taken into account; but the patent fact that so many young couples regularly remain childless for a long time indicates plainly that the sin of birth limitation is widely practiced by our Catholic people.


The prevalence of wrong ideas about sin is also seen in this, that many Catholics who are guilty of sinful birth limitation continue to frequent the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. What is to be said of this? It may be possible to act thus in ignorance, and therefore not be guilty of formal sin; but it is more likely that the great majority fully know that the continued practice of birth prevention and the worthy reception of the sacraments cannot go together. Very often such persons receive the sacraments merely out of human respect, since their failure to receive them would cause unfavorable comment.

Therefore, in addition to abusing the Sacrament of Matrimony by doing an “abominable and detestable thing,” they are committing the very grievous sin of sacrilege. Either they refuse to confess their sinful practice, or if they do confess it, they have no intention of avoiding it in the future; and thus they abuse the Sacrament of Penance. To this they then add the sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion. Thus they render themselves guilty of a sin that has a special tendency to harden the heart and make it obdurate, even to final impenitence. There are not a few Catholics who are so imbued with the modern spirit of rebellion against the law of God that they maintain proudly that what relates to their marital life is a strictly private affair and of no concern to the priest in the tribunal of Penance. And so it comes about that these persons add sin to sin and drink it down like water, taking no heed of the fact that not even for one single sin shall they go unpunished.


Coming now to our young people, we are confronted by the painful fact that the loss of the sense of sin has done much within the last years to make their indulgence in impurity so common that pastors and confessors are at a loss to know what they can do to stem the steadily rising tide of immorality. Such dangerous practices as petting, necking, hugging and kissing have become so common in recent years, that it is now simply taken for granted, even by many Catholic young people, that they are a perfectly lawful form of amusement and pleasure. But according to the standards of Christian morality, they still are and will remain gravely menacing to chastity. They are threats, and often outright sins, against the Sixth Commandment of God.

We must again remind our readers that no less than five-sixths of our young people are non-Catholic. This, as was stated before, simply means that in their habits of thought, speech and conduct many of them are thoroughly pagan. Something like seventy out of every hundred of them have no knowledge of God and the moral law. Our of all-American youth, about thirteen percent have some knowledge of religion, but not in the Catholic sense; while only about seventeen percent may be said to have a fairly good acquaintance with their relation and duties to God.

Hence an overwhelming majority know nothing of God and of the Ten Commandments. They have never heard of sin as an offense against God, which entails most serious consequences in time and eternity. They have therefore no religious motive for restraining themselves or denying themselves free indulgence of any kind. Not all of these succumb; but great numbers among them consider it perfectly lawful to do whatever gives them sensual gratification.

It is in this atmosphere of modern godlessness, surcharged with the contagion of sin, that our Catholic boys and girls are growing up. They are in much the same situation in which the early Christians found themselves in pagan Rome. They are in close contact with persons among whom for the most part the knowledge and the fear of God simply do not exist. They frequent the same schools with them, use the same playgrounds, take part in the same games, go to the same movies and the like. Later on they begin in too many cases to keep sinful company, with no idea of marriage, but only with a view to sinful pleasure. And the result is loss of virtue and often of faith also. Those who go out into the world to work are frequently thrown into surroundings directly destructive of innocence and purity. Sometimes they must listen all day long to language which is the outpouring of the vileness of hell itself: coarse and filthy jokes and stories, the recital of immoral deeds, scurrilous and blasphemous utterances against God, the Church, religion, priests and religious -in one word, they are as surrounded by sin as they are by the atmosphere they breathe.


Time and again the question is asked by young people: “Is it a sin to dance?” Beyond doubt in asking it they hope the answer will be negative. Ordinarily they are so fond of dancing that many of them are unwilling to forego its pleasures, even when sin is unavoidable.

Let us examine the question: “Is it a sin to dance?” Theoretically, dancing (excluding of course those dances that are known to be indecent) is an innocent form of amusement or recreation; in practice, however, it very easily becomes the cause of numerous sins against purity.

While it is possible that for some persons dancing is not an occasion of sins of this kind -- of impure thoughts, desires, touches and especially sexual excitement --- it is for others always, or nearly always, the occasion of erotic disturbance. And considering the weakness of human nature and its strong craving for such excitement, it is hard to see how it could be otherwise. What is needed is an honest acknowledgment of what effects dancing often in reality produces. There can be no doubt that for many young persons dancing is a wilful near occasion of grievous sins. To all such this rule must be given: Avoid it! It is a case of applying our Divine Saviour's stern words: “If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off; it is better to enter heaven blind and maimed and lame, than to be cast into hell with two eyes, two hands and two feet; where the fire is not extinguished and worm shall never die.” (Cf. Mark 9:42; Matt. 5:20, 18-8, 9).


One more form of sin common among our Catholic women must be considered. It is the sin-provoking immodesty in dress which has become a veritable moral plague during the past thirty years. That this evil is not an imaginary but a real one, not a restricted but a universal one, promoted by the enemies of Christianity for the ruin and destruction of morality and religion, is plain from the repeated warnings sounded by the bishops and especially by the Holy Father. It is as in the garden of Paradise: Satan is using women for the ruin of souls.

It can be truly said that women who dress indecently are snares used by Satan for the souls of men; they are walking occasions of impurity and lust to all who see them; they are the “noonday devils” of which Sacred Scripture speaks; they are the handmaids of Satan.

Catholic women, young and old, who imitate slavishly the pagan women around them in indecency in dress should remind themselves of the following facts: First, whenever their mode of attire is such that it tends unduly to rouse the passion of lust in others, they render themselves guilty of the sin of scandal, and are to a great extent responsible for the sins that may result. For this a heavy punishment is promised: “Woe to him by whom the scandal cometh. It were better for such a one that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:6). Second, the plea that one is only doing the same as others will not be accepted as an excuse by the Divine Judge after death. A Christian woman must, by reason of her faith, be different in her conduct from those who have no faith. Her model must be the Blessed Virgin, not the modern worshipers of Venus. Third, if she fears the ridicule of the world for being different, she should meditate on these solemn words of warning: “He that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father Who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:33). In other words, whoever commits sin for fear of others will be rejected and condemned.

Let those who are in the habit of excusing their sins by saying that they “are only doing what others do” ponder these words of Father Guadrupani: “Remember that the sin of others can never in the sight of God authorize yours, and that where it is the fashion to sin it is likewise the fashion to go to hell. Hence it rests with yourself whether you prefer to be saved with the few or to be damned with the many.


We must now make briefer mention of a few other sins that many Catholics are guilty of largely because they take the conduct of non-Catholics as their norm and guide. We have in mind especially the sins against the virtue of justice that abound in private and public life.

There is, first of all, the sin of “defrauding the laborer of his hire,” one of the sins that “cry to heaven for vengeance.” There are employers who are guilty of this form of injustice, even while they pose as “good Catholics.” There are those who pay starvation wages, even while they themselves draw large salaries. There are those who take advantage of hard times to hire servants for just a few dollars a month, or even merely for board and lodging.

In the world of business, many a Catholic merchant sells adulterated goods, or gives short weight and measure, all on the plea that everyone else is doing the same. Or the Catholic businessman may transact fraudulent deals, swindling people out of their savings, sometimes even ruining them, and salving his conscience by saying that others are guilty of the same tactics. There are Catholics among the dishonest loan sharks and the crooked agents dealing in worthless bonds and fake mines, oil wells, etc. Or the hard-hearted real estate man may be a Catholic he who inveigles the poor into buying, and then when they cannot pay, despoils them of the little they possess; or who in his greed erects “flats” and “tenements” so constructed that there is no room for families with children, and thus promotes the evil of race-suicide.

When it comes to Catholics in public life, we find the same situation. In such things as unfaithfulness to their oath of office, dishonesty, graft, bribery, racketeering, misappropriation of public moneys and even perjury, they are often as guilty as those who have no religion whatever. It is all considered lawful, or at least not very sinful, on the plea that it is the common practice, that “they are all doing it,” and that if you do not fall in line you might as well give up your position.


We sometimes wonder how it is that our public authorities, in trying to combat crime, especially among the younger element, and to suppress so-called crime-waves, do not see that a generation who are the victims of a century-long system of education without a trace of religion in it, are bound to be lawless because they are godless. Not that every man and woman will be a criminal; but too large a proportion of them will be so necessarily. Do these authorities perhaps recognize the truth, but lack the courage to announce to the public that the nation's great crime is in allowing its youth to be poisoned from infancy up by an utterly false philosophy of life? Or are they really so blind that they cannot see that the exclusion of God from education, and the inculcation of crass materialistic evolution, are bound to produce sin and crime, just as necessarily as the sowing of poison-ivy seeds in a wheat field is bound to result in that field’s being overrun with the noxious weed?

We need not be surprised, then, at the increase of criminality among our adolescent boys and girls. The surprising thing is rather that youthful depravity is not worse than it actually is. What motive can boys and girls have for walking straight and being good, after they have gathered, if not from explicit teachings, at least from all the implications of life around them, that there is no God, no soul, no hereafter, no heaven and no hell; that there is no difference between virtue and vice; that there simply is no sin; that life is limited by birth and death, and the sensible thing to do is to get all the joys and pleasures possible out of this short mortal existence?


Even among Catholics who have had the advantage of a Catholic schooling, many are found to be sadly wanting in Christian ideals and concepts. This lack is often traceable to the unfavorable home surroundings in which they grew up, and the absence of a true Catholic spirit in the family of which they are members. For many of our Catholic homes today are more or less paganized. The father and mother do not practice their religion conjointly; they do not always set a good example in speech and action; they neglect the religious instruction of their children, leaving it entirely to the school; they read no religious or instructive books, while at the same time they have all kinds of secular and often downright filthy papers and magazines around within reach of the children; they have no religious emblems, no sacred pictures, no crucifix adorning their home; they never gather for common prayers to draw down on themselves and their children the blessing of Christ Who said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20).

It would be a miracle of grace if such homes were to turn out young people solid in their faith and enthusiastic about their religion. Ordinarily they will simply be a copy of their parents: Catholic in name but non-Catholic in practice. Their religion will be of the Sunday-go-to-church kind. Their conduct during the week will not differentiate them from unbelievers and pagans.


The influence of the movies on the breakdown of moral standards will never be known in this life. Only the day of judgment will reveal its extent. But when we reflect that in 1930 the estimated weekly attendance in the country was 77 million, of whom no less than 26 million were children and adolescents, we can easily see how profoundly the minds of those who have grown up within the last quarter-century must have been influenced by this universal recreational device. And when we think of the vile films that were so general and drew such large crowds before the advent of the Legion of Decency, we realize what that influence was, in the main. Moreover, we must not forget that this is to some extent going on even now. The moral level of many films is not high, and foreign productions reeking with immorality are being shown with increasing frequency. There are places where the Legion of Decency is not operative at all, and in any event the vast majority of movie-goers never refer to the graded lists of films which the Legion supplies.

Now try to picture what the results must be of the moral education which during the past twenty-five years these young people have received in the much-frequented school of the movie. We know, from the admission of many, that the films gave them their first and principal lesson in sin and vice. And not only did they receive direct instruction in criminal things, but they were also taught a radically wrong view of the purpose of life. Movies often present the “extremes of life as though they were the norm,” thus bewildering the young and making them rebellious against ordinary living, with its manifold duties and necessary restraints.

To what extent are our Catholic children affected? We have no exact figures on this head; but if Catholics go as often as the rest of the people, then we probably have 11 million weekly movie-goers. Of these, about 3½ million are children and adolescents.


Lastly, there is the evil of anti-Christian and immoral literature, that either openly or secretly attacks religion and undermines faith and morality. The number of souls that have broken with God in consequence of bad reading is legion.

The power of the printed word, working silently but steadily and effectively, is simply tremendous. We can form no idea of its extent. Great sanctity has in many cases resulted from the chance reading of a good book; while on the other hand much evil has been produced by the reading of matter that contained spiritual poison.

The output of printed matter of an immoral character is so vast that it can only be likened to a devastating flood which has begun to inundate the whole world. The number of vile, filthy and irreligious productions is so great that it is truly appalling. And the amount of spiritual wreckage it produces among the masses, especially the young, is great beyond all calculation.

Formerly only those who took pains to read were the sufferers from this danger of bad books. But with the perfection of photography and picture-printing, things have changed very much. Pictures are used profusely in the daily papers and especially in the Sunday editions, and some magazines contain nothing else. The advertising sections are filled with them. And too large a percentage of the pictures thus featured are suggestive or even directly provocative of temptations against Christian purity. The brazen display of nudism and near-nudism in many papers and magazines has now become so general that temptations to unchastity surround our young people on all sides, much like the bacteria of a highly contagious disease during a widespread epidemic.

Another kind of magazine and paper, though considered respectable and even superior, not rarely contains articles that inculcate false principles of religion and morality, and do so with such a specious show of reasoning that the uneducated or unthinking reader will unconsciously be persuaded. Unfortunately there are Catholics who read a good deal of this kind of soul-poisoning literature --- some read no other. Such Catholics will be found advancing the idea, for example, that one Church is as good as another, or making all kinds of concessions to non-Catholics, or believing in such sinful practices as divorce, birth-limitation, mercy-killings and similar violations of God's law.


The one great evil there is in the world is what goes by the name of SIN. It is the cause of the eternal perdition of countless souls; and it is the root-cause of all the calamities and sufferings that afflict the human race. Could sin be abolished, the earth would become a paradise.

As regards the individual soul, the loss of grace occasioned by sin may be likened to the loss of the right of citizenship incurred by one who commits a crime against the government. Only by an act of clemency on the part of the government or its chief executive can that man be reinstated in his former rights, and this upon certain conditions to be fulfilled by him. A sin (grievous, that is, mortal) that is not repented of excludes the sinner forever from heaven and consigns him to the punishment of hell.

All that relates to sin is essentially supernatural and hence cannot be perceived by the natural senses and faculties of man. It can be known only through the enlightenment that comes by the true Christian faith. Therefore, those who have not this enlightenment cannot possibly understand the nature of sin and its destructive effects --- directly on the spiritual soul, indirectly on the whole man and on society.

Five out of every six persons in the United States are walking in religious ignorance or religious error. Hence five out of every six around us are bound to hold ideas about sin that are, wholly or in part, erroneous. To most of them sin is at worst a pardonable weakness or an offense against good taste, decency or social convention. If it can be committed secretly, or without injury or offense to others, or without “getting caught,” little or no guilt attaches to it, in their estimation. This loss of the sense and fear of sin has made sin common; and too many Catholics are willing victims of the deadly contagion.

If the reign of sin is to be curbed, and if justice, charity and purity are to prevail among men, it is essential that the causes that produce and spread the evil of sin be recognized with a view to their removal or at least their repression. If these causes are allowed to work without any effort on the part of mankind --most of all, of Catholics to counteract them, the moral disease is bound to spread far and wide and involve the human race in ever-growing wretchedness and misery. “The wages of sin is death” applies not only to individuals, but also to families, communities and entire nations.