First Saturday of the Month
The words of Our Divine Savior reveal to us what is the work and office of the Holy Ghost: He shall convince the world of sin" (Jn. 16.8). Both in the old creation and in the new, both before the Incarnation of the Son of God and after His Ascencion into Heaven, it has been, and it is, and it will be to the end of the world, the work and the office of the Holy Ghost to convince the world of sin; that is to say, to convince the intellect, and to illuminate the reason of man to know and to understand what sin is; and also to convict the consciences of men, one by one, of their sinfulness, and to make them, each one, conscious that they are guilty before God. This is the office of the Holy Ghost; and in all time, from the beginning of the world, the Holy Spirit of God has illuminated and convinced the intellect and the conscience of men to know God and themselves, and thereby to understand in some degree the nature of sin. But the fullness of that light and illumination was reserved unto the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost came in person to dwell forever [Jn. 14.16] in the Mystical Body of Christ.
Sin is the transgression of the law (1 Jn. 3.4). God is a law to Himself; His perfections are the law of His own nature; and God wrote upon the conscience of man, even in the state of nature, the outline of His own perfections. He made man to know right from wrong; He made him to understand the nature of purity, justice, truth and mercy. These are perfections of God, and on the conscience of man the obligations of this law are written. Every man born into the world has this outline of God's law written upon him, and sin is the transgression of that law. Another definition of sin: any thought, word, or deed contrary to the will of God.
Now, the will of God is the perfection of God Himself - holy, just, pure, merciful, true; and anything contrary to these perfections in thought, word, or deed is sin. The conformity of man to the will of God, to the perfections of God, is the sanctity or the perfection of the human soul. When the soul is unlike to God, when it is departed from the perfection of God, when instead of purity there is impurity, instead of justice there is injustice, instead of truth there is falsehood, instead of mercy there is cruelty, instead of the perfections of God there is the direct contrary of those perfections: no deformity or hideousness that can strike the eye is so terrible.
The malice, then, of sin, consists in this, that it is a created will in conscious variance with the uncreated will of God. God made us to His own image and likeness; He gave us all He could bestow upon us. He could not bestow upon us His own nature, because that is uncreated, and no creature can partake of the uncreated nature of God; but God could bestow upon us His likeness, His image, an intelligence and a will, a heart and conscience, so that we become intelligent and moral beings. The malice of sin consists, then, in this: that an intelligent creature, having a power of will, deliberately and consciously opposes the will of its Maker [if we may add, reason opposes Reason, the heart opposes the beatings of the heart of God - its very life!]. The malice of sin is essentially internal to the soul. The external action whereby the sinner perpetrates his sin adds, indeed, an accidental malice and an accidental increase of wickedness; but the essence, the life of the malice, consists in the act of the soul itself.
We see, then, that sin is the conscious variation of our moral being from the will of God. We abuse our whole nature: we abuse our intellect by acting irrationally, in violation of the will of God which is written upon the conscience; we abuse our will, because we deliberately abuse the power of the will, whereby we originate our actions in opposition to the will of God Who gave it. We apply our intellect and will, with our eyes open and with freedom and choice, to the perpetration of acts, or the utterance of words, or the harboring of thoughts which are known to be contrary to the will of God; and, therefore, in every sin there is the knowledge of the intellect in what we are doing, the consent of the will in doing it, and consciousness of the mind fixed upon the action despite these two objects: the law and the Lawgiver - the law of God known to us, and the Giver of that law, Who Is God Himself; so that we deliberately, with our eyes open and of our own free will, break God's law in God's face. (From a Sermon of Henry Edward Cardinal Manning)
Related post: Poenitentiam Agite!/Do penance! See also: "Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary" and "The Communion of Reparation of the First Saturday" under "Our Lady of Fatima Appeals" at the upper right-side bar of this site.