Such have sinned by taking
pleasure in their minds but have not consented to it in deed. Here,
the heart is tempted and feels pleasure in the sinfulness of the
flesh, and yet opposes a rational resistance to the sinfulness so that
in its innermost thought it is saddened by what pleases it, and
pleased by what saddens it.
If the soul, however, is
prone to execute its evil wishes when the opportunity is offered, then
such soul has sinned, not merely in thought, but also in
Clearly a sin of thought is
one wherewith even given the opportunity to sin, the soul will not
fall into it.
From the example of our
first parents, we see that sin is committed in three stages, namely,
the suggestion of it, the pleasure experienced, and the consent. The
first is the act of the enemy, the second that of the flesh, the third
that of the soul.
The devil who continuously
is in wait for us suggests the evil. The flesh submits to the
pleasure. Then the soul, overcome by the pleasure,
Thus, the devil suggested
the act of disobedience. Eve gave in to the pleasure. Adam, overcome
by the suggestion and the pleasure, gave consent. And so, it is said
that the fall was accomplished by Adam.
We become aware that there
is sin in the suggestion; we are overcome by pleasure and we fall by
Those who have sinned in
thought must realize the gravity of such state lest feeling less
horror for their state they may easily fall into greater evil. God,
though, absolves sins of thought more readily because they have not
reached consummation. In Scriptures, these sins are called wickedness
of the heart, "Thou has forgiven the wickedness of my heart." This
needs only the cleansing of the mind.
St. Gregory the Great,
Pastoral Rule, Part III, Chapter 29