[quote=Michels]This question was brought to me by our diocese’s director of Catechises.
It is extremely difficult, almost impossible to think of something someone would actually do under a clear and well formed conscious that is a sin that is not habbitual.
I am by no means saying this is a free ticket. We are all called to live ever striving towards perfection. As our conscious becomes more well formed and clear, we sin less. But we also become more aware of sins we didn’t realize we were committing, so we are held accountable for more sins.
I would answer the Director this way:
Becoming a baptized, confessed, and confirmed Catholic erased my culpability for Original Sin and past Personal Sins. It did not erase my sinful nature, nor my culpability for future sins. It sounds like the director is suggesting that being a Christian means we can not succumb to new ways to sin. The exact opposite is true. The older I get, the more I am tempted in ways that I could not even imagine as a child.
Every habit begins with a single, non-habitual act. The first time you do something wrong you may agonize over it - you know it is wrong, but just this once would it truly be so bad? Especially if the consequences of doing the right thing are painful? [Imagine you have a music CD that is copyrighted, but not copy-protected. You make a duplicate on your PC and give it to a special friend instead of buying another copy.]
The second time you are faced with the same situation, you remember that you got away with it before. No one came to arrest you. Furthermore, some of your friends are doing the same thing without consequence. Your conscience still says “this is wrong” but you start to rationalize. [Your friend tells two other people that you gave him the CD copy. They want copies too, and they’ll even return the favor by giving you copies of other CDs you were about to buy.]
The third time becomes even easier. The habit begins to form. [One day you realize that the stack of 25 CD-R disks you bought for legitimate personal data backups has instead been converted into a stack of illegally copied music CDs.]
Note that you were clear-headed and not under duress at any time. This wasn’t a habit you brought with you when you became a Christian so many years ago, and which you only recently realized was wrong. [You knew the FBI warnings and copyright symbols were there long before you ever bought a computer that could copy CDs.] This was a completely new behavior that was simply expedient and selfish the first time you did it.
Whether our sin is a small as stealing music CDs or as great as becoming a mass murderer, it still begins with a single, non-habitual act. God gave us Free Will, and the freedom to exercise that will completely independent of Him. We can choose to align ourselves with Him. And we can choose to go our own way at any time, even after years of pious living. But if we choose to be our own moral authority, even in seemingly small, irrelevant matters, we are in sin. And we are culpable each and every time.