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St. John Henry Newman—Moral Consequences of Single Sins

By James T. Majewski ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 19, 2021 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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“Day and night follow each other not more surely, than punishment comes upon sin… just as a stone falls to the earth, or as fire burns, or as poison kills, as if by the necessary bond of cause and effect.”

Penitence is the focus of this sermon, given by Newman some years before his conversion to Catholicism. In it he addresses a topic too often neglected: the consequence of sin—of a single sin, at that. Even for Catholics, it can at times be all too easy simply to go to confession, receive absolution, and to forget that certain consequences remain—that reparations remain to be made—and that the work of penitence is ongoing.

Even when we do attend to the consequences of our sin—above all, to the harm that our sin inflicts upon Jesus—these consequences can feel far removed, considered only in the abstract. In this, too, Newman’s sermon is beneficial. By looking at the moral consequence of sin, Newman considers sin’s consequence in an imminent and concrete light, able to stir us from complacency.

The sermon reads, at times, almost like an examination of conscience. It’s my hope that this reading can be such for us as we undertake this great penitential task at the outset of our Lenten journey.


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Theme music: 2 Part Invention, composed by Mark Christopher Brandt, performed by Thomas Mirus. ©️2019 Heart of the Lion Publishing Co./BMI. All rights reserved.

James T. Majewski is Director of Customer Relations for, the “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. Based in New York City, he holds both a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full bio.

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