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Catholic Essentials
"Not Believing" is not an Option!

Occasions of Sin

Is defined as, "Any person, place or thing which allures a man to sin." (Definition from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951). Another definition: "Occasions of Sin are external circumstances--whether of things or persons--which either because of their special nature or because of the frailty common to humanity or peculiar to some individual, incite or entice one to sin." (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1917)

References to Occasions of Sin In Scripture:

  • A hard heart shall fear evil at the last: and he that loveth danger shall perish in it. Ecclesiasticus 3:27
  • Look not upon a woman that hath a mind for many: lest thou fall into her snares. Use not much the company of her that is a dancer, and hearken not to her, lest thou perish by the force of her charms. Gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumblingblock to thee. Look not round about thee in the of the city, nor wander up and down in the streets thereof. Turn away thy face from a woman dressed up, and gaze not about upon another's beauty. For many have perished by the beauty of a woman, and hereby lust is enkindled as a fire. Many by admiring the beauty of another man's wife, have become reprobate, for her conversation burneth as fire. Sit not at all with another man's wife, nor repose upon the bed with her: And strive not with her over wine, lest thy heart decline towards her, and by thy blood thou fall into destruction. Ecclesiasticus 9:3-5, 7-9, 11-13
  • "And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell" Matthew 5:29-30

Church Teaching on Occasions of Sin:

  • "Hence if the circumstances suggest it, it may be necessary to remind them of that well-known precept of the natural and divine law, which commands us to avoid not only sins but the next occasion of sin as well" Encyclical on Mixed Marriages by Pope Gregory XVI, 1832
  • "On this point it should be noted, as indeed the Fathers and Doctors of the Church teach, that we can more easily struggle against and repress the wiles of evil and the enticements of the passions if we do not struggle directly against them, but rather flee from them as best we may. For the preserving of chastity, according to the teaching of Jerome, flight is more effective than open warfare: "Therefore I flee, lest I be overcome."[92] Flight must be understood in this sense, that not only do we diligently avoid occasion of sin, but especially that in struggles of this kind we lift our minds and hearts to God...." ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII ON CONSECRATED VIRGINITY MARCH 25, 1954
  • "Again, to satisfy is to cut off all occasions of sin, and to close every avenue against its suggestions" Catechism of Council of Trent, Sacrament of Penance
  • "Finally, we pray that God would remove all occasions of sin and iniquity" Catechism of Council of Trent, The Lord's Prayer
  • "Theologians distinguish between the proximate and the remote occasion. They are not altogether at one as to the precise value to be attributed to the terms. De Lugo defines proximate occasion (De poenit. disp. 14, n. 149) as one in which men of like calibre for the most part fall into mortal sin, or one in which experience points to the same result from the special weakness of a particular person. The remote occasion lacks these elements. All theologians are agreed that there is no obligation to avoid the remote occasions of sin both because this would, practically speaking, be impossible and because they do not involve serious danger of sin." Catholic Encyclopedia (1917), Occasions of Sin
  • "It is certain that one who is in the presence of a proximate occasion at once voluntary and continuous is bound to remove it. A refusal on the part of a penitent to do so would make it imperative for the confessor to deny absolution." Catholic Encyclopedia (1917), Occasions of Sin


Scripture and Church teaching make it clear that it is a sin in itself to put ourselves intentionally or needlessly in an occasion of sin, and we must all avoid it. Anyone who believes otherwise cannot say they are Catholic!




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