Occasions and sources of sins...
I went through a period where I thought that by hanging out with all the brothas would be a good way to evangelize... I thought since I went to daily Mass and prayed every day, I was good to go. I could be chaste and sober and... So what was the occasion? This isn't Oprah, so never mind. Nevertheless, I think it is easy for many of us to believe an occasion of sin does not represent a danger to our solidly stable, immutable, spirituality. So maybe the follow points are not applicable to many - if any - of my readers; but just skim through the following, and give it some thought. That way, the next time you find yourself doing what you don't want to do, you might be able to figure out that the devil didn't make you do it - you did it all by yourself... because you weren't careful about those damn occasions of sin.
What is the difference between an occasion of sin and a near occasion of sin? Official answer here:
It is important to remember that there is a wide difference between the cause and the occasion of sin. The cause of sin in the last analysis is the perverse human will and is intrinsic to the human composite. The occasion is something extrinsic and, given the freedom of the will, cannot, properly speaking, stand in causal relation to the act or vicious habit which we call sin. There can be no doubt that in general the same obligation which binds us to refrain from sin requires us to shun its occasion. Qui tenetur ad finem, tenetur ad media (he who is bound to reach a certain end is bound to employ the means to attain it).Now there can be exceptions regarding the proximate occasion of sin, although these warrant a very good spiritual director's help to discern the situation. For instance: "The difficulty is to determine when a proximate occasion is to be regarded as not physically (that is plain enough) but morally necessary. Much has been written by theologians in the attempt to find a rule for the measurement of this moral necessity and a formula for its expression, but not successfully. It seems to be quite clear that a proximate occasion may be deemed necessary when it cannot be given up without grave scandal or loss of good name or without notable temporal or spiritual damage." Discretion is key.
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
Elsewhere, I came across a few helpful examples of what common occasions to sin are:
Bad companions. One who provokes or leads us into sin is not a real friend. Which is exactly why I stopped linking to some of you.Very seriously, I think from time to time many of us disregard the very idea of the occasion of sin, or worse, we no longer recognize the dangers, or that it is even present. Similarly, I think other venial sins are overlooked and thought to be equally as harmless or insignificant. The trouble is, aside from offending the love of God, our laxity in these matters dulls the conscience, removing even the sense of sin, leading to apathy and tepidity in the service of God. Such infidelity in 'small' matters portends a failure in 'greater' matters. Thus we become more vulnerable and disposed to mortal sin. Even the good we thought we had may be taken away.
Dance halls. (I know!) Not every dance is sinful. But many dances are occasions of sin: and public dances without the presence of respectable adults...
- Okay, okay, there are no dance halls anymore - it's an old book, but I really think night-clubbing can be a very real occasion of sin for some people...
Bars and Liquor saloons: These are very proximate occasions of sin, leading to intemperance and worse evils. Need I say more?
Obscene literature. Porn. Internet porn.
Bad books. Including anything by Ann Rice or Steven King - I mean, who reads that crap? What?
Indecent pictures and shows. Primetime TV.
Dangerous parks and recreation centers.
Been there, done that. Lord have mercy!
[If I'm in error here, I hope someone will either correct me or add to the discussion. Thank you.]