The First Effect of Mortal Sin

Commenting on the first effect of mortal sin, namely, the death of the soul, Cardinal Manning says of Adam, who is the father of the human race: “By one sin of disobedience, with his eyes open, with the consent of his will and with full deliberation—and that in a matter light in itself, as I have said, but grave because the prohibition of God under the penalty of eternal death was laid upon it—in that slight trial, without temptation save only the listening to the tempter, who awakened a spirit of curiosity and disobedience, where all around him was permitted and one only thing forbidden, man sinned against God, and by that one sin was struck dead. The Holy Ghost departed from him, and all his perfections were wrecked. The supernatural perfection was lost, the preternatural perfection was forfeited, the soul fell from God, the body was struck by death. He became from that time disinherited, shorn of sanctity and life: one sin unto death separated him and all his posterity from God.”

“As it was in the case of Adam, so it is also in the case of the regenerate; so it is in our own. We who are born, into the world, spiritually dead have once more, by regeneration in baptism, the life of the Spirit. If we sin mortally with our eyes open, and with consent of our will, we forfeit the presence of the Holy Ghost in the soul, the charity of God which unites us to Him, the sanctifying grace whereby we are made children of God, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost which are always inseparably united to His presence.”

“There is left in us, indeed, the grace of hope and the grace of faith. These two remain like the beating of the pulse and the breathing of the lungs: there is just so much left of the life of grace with the light of faith and the aspiration of hope after God; but our union with God is broken: we are separated from Him, and at variance with Him. This is the first effect of mortal sin; for habitual grace and the presence of God are the life of the soul; and the loss of that grace, which is the loss of the presence of God, is the death of the soul.”

Quotations from Henry Edward Manning, Sin and Its Consequences, 2d ed. (London: Burns and Oates, 1874).

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