Alright before you flip out and claim that I am going to preach heresy about involuntary sin, understand that this is a concept very old to the church. There are ways in which man can go against God and receive the guilt of such actions, even without willing it. Furthermore, the concept of involuntary sin is accepted enough by the church that it is placed in the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. A Liturgy that is practiced far and wide within the Eastern Lung of the Church. However, first thing is first:
What is Sin?
Sin is an offense against God. Plain and simple. Sin is going outside of God’s plan, against His will. An important thing to remember is that when you are talking about sin, not all sin is mortal. There is a “grave” difference between the mortal sin and other sins (venial).
Mortal and Venial Sin
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives a very clear explanation the differences and definitions of the two types of sins:
CCC 1857 :For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
CCC 1862 : One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.
Alright so after observing these definitions, we can conclude that involuntary sin must and only can be a venial sin. This is because it is a sin committed without full knowledge. It boils down to the fact that God is objective. There is good and there is evil, from God’s perspective there is no grey area. Every detail, down to the color of the tie you put on, is known to God. However, He not only knows these details, but He plans for the details. There is only the right and wrong choice, never the okay choice, never a decent choice. Every action committed by you may be an act against God’s will and plan and thus sinful.
This is sadly the result of being finite beings outside of the infinite knowledge of the infinite God.
All involuntary sin is a result of some choice, you made with the unintended result of going against God’s plan. That choice could be anything. But! Do not be scared, it is a sin, but a sin you cannot worry about. Do not become paranoid in your actions saying, “anything I can do might be a sin, thus I cannot do anything.” Well, because that is even worse.
The only attitude, or approach, you can take towards this kind of sin is to trust in God. Pray that Holy Spirit guides every thought, word, deed and omission, so that you are always knowing, loving, and serving God.
Alright, now I know you may be all nervous about this concept, but do not fear. There is also something that I believe in (which is a personal philosophy) called involuntary light. These are the actions that we do, with no real intention or full knowledge of following God’s will that result in his glory. To give you an example of this, here is a personal story of mine:
One day, some time after my father had surprised my mother with roses, flowers were wilting. Ergo, my mother wanted them to be disposed of, so I was asked to carry out the task. I grabbed the dying blossoms, however, I was compelled with the idea to toss them down the hill in the back of our house into the forest behind. Afterward I thought nothing of it, just a pile of roses left to decay and return to the earth from which they came. However, almost an hour later, my little sister and her friend came running into the house after having been playing in the woods. They shouted and were full of joy, for they had witnessed a miracle. God had placed one dozen roses in a pile, in the middle of no where, and they were ecstatic. They were so full of joy and love for Christ that they decided to pray a Novena to the Little Flower.
I realized that I had done nothing, but go about my normal life not thinking to much about what I was doing. Nonetheless, Christ had worked through me. I had followed His divine plan and will, on no accord of my own and out of this good came.
I may not have been following God’s will. I may have sinned in tossing the roses in the woods, however this is an example about how we cannot worry about such involuntary deeds. God will bring great good out of evil, and this is all the more proof that we must just trust in His infinite knowledge. The point of this post is to say that involuntary sin exists, and to make it clear that we must take responsibility for them, but nonetheless we cannot worry or be paranoid about them.