The widespread acceptance of the falsehood promoted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other influential Freemasons concerning man’s supposed natural goodness has resulted in extreme moral corruption and devastation for souls. In his premier encyclical on the secret society, Pope Leo XIII wrote, “Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned, and consequently think that free will is not at all weakened and inclined to evil. On the contrary, exaggerating rather the power and the excellence of nature, and placing therein alone the principle and rule of justice, they cannot even imagine that there is any need at all of a constant struggle and a perfect steadfastness to overcome the violence and rule of our passions.” The denial or forgetfulness of our fallen condition has led to a neglect of the discussion of the important concept of occasions of sin.
An occasion of sin has been defined as “any person, place, or thing that of its nature or because of human frailty can lead one to do wrong, thereby committing sin.” There are certain kinds of persons and places that are occasions of sin for most people generally due to the nature we all share as children of Adam. There are other persons, places, and things that are occasions of sin only for particular individuals because of differences in age, sex, temperament, virtue, etc.
A venue with an open bar might not be a proximate occasion of the sin of drunkenness for many, but for some it will be. A personal laptop or phone with internet access might not be an occasion of sin for your average elderly woman, but for your average teenage male, these things are proximate occasions of mortal sins against purity.
Our Lord alluded to the concept of occasions of sin when He said, “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” (Matt. 5:29,30).
What is crucial to consider is that to be validly absolved through the Sacrament of Penance, we must have a firm purpose of amendment, and we cannot be said to possess this firm purpose if we are not resolved to avoid the voluntary proximate occasions of the sin we are confessing.
A voluntary proximate occasion of sin is an occasion that can easily be avoided. Necessary occasions of sin are such as cannot be avoided without scandal or serious difficulty. When discerning whether an occasion is “necessary” or not, we should remember that Our Lord, in the above quoted Scripture passage, set the standard quite high, stating that our “right eye” and “right hand” are to be discarded if they are keeping us from the life of divine grace.
If the particular sin we are confessing is something we do not have a history of committing, then the measures we resolve to adopt to avoid the occasions of the particular sin need not be as drastic as would be required if the sin we are confessing is something that has become habitual for us.
One of the most significant events in the Christian world in the 19th century was Pope Pius IX’s ex cathedra definition of the dogma of Our Lady’s immaculate conception. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary contains an antiphon that refers to Our Lady’s role as the “destroyer of heresies” , and it is likely that Mary wanted the truth about her immaculate conception to be defined at the particular time in which it was because it is in this age that Masonry’s heresy of man’s natural goodness has gained the most traction. Pius IX’s definition gives us all an occasion to meditate on Our Lady’s singular and unique privilege and, in doing so, has given us an occasion to ponder how it is that we differ from her. Mary did not have concupiscence or any of the other wounds of the soul effected by original sin; we do.
We will be better off the more we conform our minds to reality. How happy is the man who contemplates his fallen nature and acts accordingly, diligently avoiding unnecessary occasions of sin? Msgr. Gaume writes, “Doubtless if men were careful to avoid the occasions of sin, the greater part of those sins which are committed would be avoided.” The greater part of sins which are committed could be avoided if only we were to acknowledge our weaknesses and put restraints on ourselves!
Immaculate Virgin, destroyer of heresies, patroness of the Counter-Revolution, thou who alone were conceived without sin, please pray for us who have recourse to thee!
 Office of Matins: “Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo. Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, alone thou hast destroyed all heresies throughout the world.”
John Henderson is a graduate of the Catholic University of America currently working as an educator in the state of Maryland. He has been going to the traditional Latin Mass regularly for six years and is zealous to tell others of the treasures of the Catholic religion.