Chapter 7: Sin and Conversion OUR MORAL LIFE IN CHRIST
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) ANTICIPATORY SET Writea five‑minute response to Bernard Nathanson’s conversion story.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) BASIC QUESTIONS What is the origin and character of Original Sin? What are the origin and nature of physical and moral evil? KEY IDEAS Through Original Sin, the human race lost many of the privileges that Adam and Eve enjoyed, and, instead, each person inherits at conception a wounded nature inclined to sin. Physical evil and moral evil both entered the world through Original Sin. Physical evil is the physical and mental suffering man experiences, sometimes because of natural causes. Moral evil is a deliberate infraction of God’s Law or a rejection of his will. Most of the suffering of the world is caused by moral evil.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) FOCUS QUESTIONS What does Nathanson mean by the “hour of the wolf”? He means the early morning, four or five a.m., when he would awaken in despair. What did he wish for during that time? To be acquitted by some invisible jury of his crimes. How is despising oneself the beginning of the quest for human dignity? Perhaps this means that if you despise yourself, you must have some standard, some sense of what you should be but are not. Despising self is the opposite of appreciating one’s dignity, but if one exists, so must the other.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) FOCUS QUESTIONS What does Nathanson mean when he says, “There had been no concrete cost to my corrupt actions”? Nathanson was sorry he had committed so many murders. Nonetheless, he made a lot of money, had not been punished, and the law actually protected him. What made Nathanson begin to believe God might exist? Nathanson began to believe that God might exist when he witnessed the peace and confidence of prolife demonstrators, even though the government, the police, foul‑mouthed prochoice demonstrators, and even the weather were against them. He wondered what “Force” could be directing them.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) FOCUS QUESTIONS What does Original Sin mean for an innocent, newborn baby? The baby has committed no actual sin but inherits a wounded nature. What is concupiscence? It is the condition of man’s wounded nature that is inclined to sin. What is physical evil? Physical evil is a natural and often catastrophic hardship that causes physical harm to man. Examples include tornadoes, tidal waves, and epidemics. Physical evil includes all physical and mental sufferings man experiences.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is moral evil? Moral evil is a deliberate infraction of God’s Law or a rejection of God’s will that harms both the acting subject and those individuals who are the objects of that act. What is the source of most of the suffering in the world? Moral evil is the source of most of the misery people suffer.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) GUIDED EXERCISE Think/Pair/Share on the following question: What is some evidence that each of us possesses a wounded nature inclined to sin?
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Complete the following table to list the privileges Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall and the corresponding consequences of their sin for all their descendents.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the relationship between both kinds of evils and Original Sin? Both physical and moral evil entered the world with Original Sin, and much physical evil is directly caused by moral evil. Outside of physical evil that is the result of natural forces, does moral evil sometimes result in physical evil? Grinding poverty, famine, and starvation can be caused by evil regimes. Pollution, contamination, and infectious diseases can be caused by man’s failure to act as a good steward of creation. Assault causes physical harm to the victim. Extension: If one chooses to commit the moral evil of getting drunk, he or she can expect to suffer the physical evil of a hangover.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 1-10 (p. 174) Workbook Questions 1-3 Read “What Is Sin?” (pp. 145-146)
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) CLOSURE Write a well‑organized paragraph on the state of mankind before and after the fall of Adam and Eve.
1. Introduction (pp. 140-144) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Assume that someone rejects the existence of Original Sin. What evidence can you offer to show that Original Sin is, nevertheless, a very sensible doctrine that accounts for the state of the world today?
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) ANTICIPATORY SET Incorporate the Parable of the Prodigal Son into the Opening Prayer and then complete Practical Exercise 1 on “God, freedom, sin, and repentance.”
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) BASIC QUESTION What is sin? KEY IDEA There are three classic definitions of sin: anything that violates eternal law, anything that violates the moral law, and any disordered love for created things over God.
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) FOCUS QUESTIONS How is all sin a form of idolatry? The sinner places the good he expects to receive before God’s will. How do sins of the flesh especially reflect inordinate attachment to created goods or selfish goals, which take precedence over the will of God? Under the influence of sensual desire, a person rejects God’s will to satisfy his or her desire.
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the effect of sin on the human heart? While sin poses as something that will satisfy the heart, in fact, it leaves the person feeling empty. Why is sin the only real evil on earth? Only sin can harm the soul.
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Complete the following table to summarize the three classic definitions of sin.
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to analyze Christ’s advice from the Gospel of St. Matthew in light of St. Thomas Aquinas’s definition of sin as an inordinate love for creatures: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mt 6:19-21)
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is dignity? Dignity is worthiness, or that which makes man deserving of respect. How does sin rob man of dignity? It lessens man’s high standing to some degree, reduces his freedom and self‑control, and distances him from God. Why is it an error to see sin only as a direct, malicious affront against God? Direct malice toward God is not necessary to sin.
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 11-19 (p. 174) Practical Exercise 1 (p. 177) Workbook Questions 4-5 Read “Sin in Sacred Scriptures” (pp. 147-148)
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) CLOSURE Write a well‑organized paragraph on the three definitions of sin using the Graphic Organizer: “Three Classic Definitions of Sin presented in this lesson.”
2. What Is Sin? (pp. 145-146) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Work with a partner to identify the relationship between evil and sin.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) ANTICIPATORY SET Brainstorming session of examples of people sinning in the Old Testament.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) BASIC QUESTION How is sin presented in the Old and New Testaments? KEY IDEAS The Old Testament likens sin to a child’s disobedience to a loving father and to an adulterous wife’s unfaithfulness to a loving husband. In the New Testament, sin is divinely personalized in Christ, who underwent suffering to redeem fallen man.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) FOCUS QUESTION What is the overriding notion of sin in the Old Testament? The overriding notion of sin is infidelity to a loving Father who lavishes his blessings on his people. Obedience to God’s Law demonstrates love of God and results in protection and generous assistance. Disobedience or rejection of his Law is infidelity to God’s covenant and ingratitude for his unmitigated love.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) FOCUS QUESTIONS How do Isaiah and Hosea represent sin? As marital infidelity. What are the expected and the actual results of Israel’s infidelity? The expected penalty for Israel's infidelity would be cancellation of the benefits of the covenant, banishment, and death. The actual result is a merciful offer of reconciliation.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) GUIDED EXERCISE Paragraph shrink on the paragraph beginning, “The reparation and Redemption...” (p. 148).
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) FOCUS QUESTIONS What does it mean to say that, in the New Testament, sin is more divinely personalized than in the Old Testament? Sin is divinely personalized in the New Testament in that human sin is the reason for the Incarnation and the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. What do both Testaments reveal about sin? They both reveal how sin damages man and how God ardently wants to forgive the sinner. The analogy that began as an offended lover culminates with the love of Jesus Christ, demonstrated by his Death on the Cross.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) GUIDED EXERCISE Think/Pair/Share on the following prompt: Relate the Old Testament sense of sin as an action that abuses God’s love and prevents his sons and daughters from receiving his loving care to one of the classic definitions of sin.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 20-23 (p. 174) Practical Exercise 2 (p. 177) Workbook Question 6 Read “Mortal and Venial Sins,” “Mortal, Grave, or Venial?” and “The Many Faces of Sin” (pp. 149-150, 170-171)
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) CLOSURE Write a paragraph summarizing how each of the two Testaments view sin.
3. Sin in Sacred Scriptures (pp. 147-148) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Watch the clip from the film “The Passion of the Christ” in which Christ is nailed to the Cross, and then individually complete Practical Exercise 2 in writing.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) ANTICIPATORY SET Discuss Practical Exercise 4, whether we have an obligation to make up for evils done by our ancestors.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) BASIC QUESTIONS What is mortal sin? What is venial sin? In what other ways can sins be classified? KEY IDEAS Mortal sin is a grave matter, carried out with full knowledge and with complete consent of the will. It separates one from God. Venial sin is a lesser offense against God that does not definitively separate one from him. Besides mortal and venial, sins may also be classified according to whether they are Original or actual, formal or material, of commission or omission, social or structural, or external or internal.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) GUIDED EXERCISE Think/Pair/Share: Since it is not possible to commit a mortal sin by accident, does it follow that one cannot commit a mortal sin without a desire to offend God directly or explicitly?
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) GRAPHIC ORGANIZER Complete the following table to help understand the various ways of classifying sin.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is a venial sin? It is a less serious act that offends the love of God without separating us from him. What is mortal sin? It is a grave offense against God that destroys our relationship with him.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) FOCUS QUESTIONS At what moment is a sin committed? At the moment that the person makes the act of the will directly or indirectly rejecting God’s will. Why should we confess venial sin? Because venial sin weakens our relationship with God, we should confess venial sins frequently in order to avoid mortal sin. Why should we worry about venial sins? Besides the fact that they offend God, they can lead to mortal sin and a life of vice.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the usual means of restoring our relationship to God after committing a mortal sin? The Sacrament of Reconciliation. What are the three conditions that must be met for a sin to be mortal? It must be a grave matter carried out with full knowledge with complete consent of the will. What is the effect on the gravity of the sin if one of the three conditions for mortal sin is not met? It is a venial sin.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) GUIDED EXERCISE Think/Pair/Write/Share on the following question using “Mortal, Grave, or Venial?” (p. 170): Based on your knowledge of erroneous ethical systems such as situation ethics, consequentialism, proportionalism, and the fundamental option, why might some want to create a new class of “grave” sin, in addition to mortal and venial sin?
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 24-32 (pp. 174-175) Practical Exercises 3-7 (p. 177) Workbook Questions 7-9 Read “Causes of the Loss of the Sense of Sin” (pp. 150-153)
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) CLOSURE Write a paragraph defining and explaining the distinction between mortal and venial sins.
4. Mortal and Venial Sins (pp. 149-150) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Work in groups of three or four to complete Practical Exercise 6 on the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats and sins of omission.
5. Causes of the Loss of the Sense of Sin (pp. 150-153) ANTICIPATORY SET Work with a partner to write a bullet‑point summary of Supplementary Reading 3 from “In the Beginning” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the loss of the sense of sin. (See Supplementary Reading for a sample summary.)
5. Causes of the Loss of the Sense of Sin (pp. 150-153) BASIC QUESTIONS What is the loss of the sense of sin? What factors contribute to this loss? KEY IDEAS The loss of the sense of sin is the decline of people’s belief in the reality of the evil of sin. The general loss of the sense of sin in Western society has been influenced by moral relativism, faulty psychology, confusion between what is legal and what is moral, and secular humanism.
5. Causes of the Loss of the Sense of Sin (pp. 150-153) FOCUS QUESTIONS What do “the loss of the meaning of sin” and “the loss of sense of sin” mean? “The loss of the meaning of sin” refers to the idea that sin does not have any real importance; for example, the word “sin” is just a label to describe arbitrary norms of moral conduct. “The loss of the sense of sin” is acceptance of behavior that was once universally rejected. Why is the recovery of the sense of sin the first step in establishing the Kingdom of God? If you do not know you are a sinner and do not realize you are capable of committing any sin, you will not see your need for help or your need for God.