The Catholic Church of which I am a member has a list of what is permissible and what is forbidden In a book called the Catechism. It teaches that if you do not follow the what is permissible but slip into the
land that is forbidden then you have committed a sin.
There are two types of sin.
One is called venial; the other and most grave is referred to as mortal.
When I was in sixth grade I had to go to CCD which was a weekly class held after school at St William’s school taught by the nuns.
They dressed in garments similar to some Muslim women where all that is exposed of their body are their hands and face. Not even a speck of the hair on their head is visible. They were referred to as sisters. One nun during this afternoon class explained the difference between mortal and venial sin.
She went to the blackboard on the side of the room to my right located on the wall opposite the windows. She drew a humungous circle in white chalk. She said that is our soul.
Explaining that she was going to show us how venial sins blemish our soul she put one inch size chalk marks at various places within the circle doing it in such a way that it made a noise and seemed as if they were bullet holes.
She paused so we could see the damage. There was little doubt the soul had taken a little beating but most of it remained in tact. She explained lots of venial sins dirty the soul but it can be cleansed after death with a good washing in Pergatory or by going to confession while one still could.
She then said she would show us what just one mortal sin does to the soul and how it inflicts greivous harm. She put the chalk on its side and in broad frenetic strokes obliterated the circle. The soul was gone. She emphasized that only one mortal sin totally destroy the soul.
She went on to explain that mortal sins could also be forgiven by going to confession so all was not lost. But one was in extreme jeopardy between the time when the sin was committed and having it forgiven. It was a guaranteed one way ticket to Hell.
We learned we might sin which offended God we but could always get back on His good side. In theology class at Boston College we learned about other ways of being forgiven without going to confession. In the Marines we were given general absolution at Mass when potentially dire situations faced us.
We learned sin no matter how greivous could be forgiven by God. We were taught not to judge others in their relationship with God.
Obviously we Catholics should follow the Church’s teachings. In doing so we should be concerned with ourselves and not with what others do. Condemning others and calling them Cafeteria Catholics because you think they are not doing what the Church permits in one area where you may follow the Church’s teaching is plainly wrong.
You too have sinned at one point or another. Does that make you a Cafeteria Catholic? Do you see the splinter the eye of another while you have a telephone pole in your eye?
Jesus taught us to love others, help others, and not to be vain. Didn’t he scold those who pretended to be better than others by praying loudly in public.
Many Catholics have fallen into the belief that even if they abhor others, covet money, assist no one, and are uncharitable they are without sin because, for instance, they oppose abortion. I suggest that Jesus may not agree.
We will have to wait and see on this. All I suggest is avoid condemning others and take care of your own soul. “Judge not others unless you be judged and found wanting.”