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The sin by which a person gives up all hope of salvation or of the means necessary to reach heaven. It is therefore not mere anxiety about the future or fear that one may be lost. It is rather a deliberate yielding to the idea that human nature cannot co-operate with God's grace, or that the despairing person is too wicked to be saved, or that God has cast one away. It is a grave crime against God's goodness. Experience also shows that a tendency to despair can seriously injure one's physical and mental health, and ironically can lead to all kinds of sinful indulgence. (Etym. Latin de, the opposite of + sperare, to hope: desperatio, hopelessness, despair.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.