The gravity of sin and whom sin offends?

I am trying to understand something a bit better. I have read in several Catholic catechisms and commentaries that the gravity of sin has something to do with whom is offended/ injured by the sin, as well as the type of sin. For example, stealing a large sum of money from your brother is worse than stealing a large sum of money from a stranger (speaking of simple theft but not robbery). Have I got this right?

Similarly, I was recalling recently reading that sins of grave matter against the first three commandments are objectively worse than sins of grave matter against the fourth through tenth commandments. The reason being that the Person whom is offended when we grievously break the first three commandments is primarily God Himself, who is Infinte and All-Good and Perfect. Whereas, the breaking of the other commandments offends human persons primarily, and therefore God secondarily, who made all human persons in His image. Have I gone awry in my understanding on this one?

Finally, if I have got those right, would I be correct in thinking that, for hypothetical example, I would sin more gravely if I apostatized and became a Satanist, than if I became an adulterer or a thief or I perjured myself?

Thanks for any correction or explanation! God bless you.

This is true of all sin, mortal or venial. The point made is that any sin, no matter how small, since it is an offense against God, who is infinitely great, good and sovereign, takes on an infinite guilt.

We use human examples (e.g. janitor vs. President) to illustrate the principle. Attacking a janitor can get you jailed or fined. Attacking the President can get you shot and killed on the spot. It’s not so much the action, but the dignity of the person being offended.

The main point here is that because our guilt is infinite, we cannot atone for them. We needed someone who can atone for the infinite guilt of our sin. Only an infinite being can do that. But further, sin the sin is man’s, only man can do that. This is why the Son became man, to do precisely that. The reason the dignity of the one offended is raised is a catechetical aid to help explain why we needed a divine Redeemer.

This is also why we can distinguish between venial and mortal sin: because of Christ’s action. His Sacrifice enabled us to share the divine life of sanctifying grace, and mortal vs. venial sin differ to the degree that they attack charity. Without charity to begin with, all sin is pretty much the same: mortal.

So about the Ten Commandments. Commandments 1 through 3 are not necessarily graver than 4 through 10. It is very possible to sin venially against the second Commandment, but mortally against the fifth. Because all sin, no matter what, is ultimately an offense against God.

Thank you for your reply.

I am thinking about these things because as I progress in my conversion, I have begun to realize that no human being has ever offended me as much as I have offended God. I have actually had some very horrible offenses committed against me, but in learning about sin and forgiveness and the Lord’s Prayer, I have come to a point where I start to question the gravity of sins committed against me and started putting more weight in the sins I have committed against God. As well as, starting to become more concerned that when a loved one sins against me, that they are sinning against God by extension, and are hurting their own soul. There have been times where I have been lied to or mistreated, and now I start thinking “how can I help the person to stop injuring their own soul in committing these sins?” It has been a surprising shift, so I wanted to check to make sure I truly understand all of this, and don’t go off track.

I hope that you, or any other knowledgeable CAF member can help me on this a little bit more. Thanks again.

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