Concerning Mortal Sins, Pardonable Sins and Sins of Omission

Holy Wonderworking Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian at Rome

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

(Saint Isaac the Syrian)

O Lord, make me worthy to know You and love You, not in the knowledge arising from mental exercise and the dispersion of the mind, but make me worthy of that knowledge whereby the mind, in beholding You, glorifies Your nature in this vision which steals from the mind the awareness of the world. Account me worthy to rise above the vision of the will which begets fantasies and to behold You in the constraint of the bond of the Cross, in the second part of the crucifixion of the intellect, which rests free from the activity of its thoughts by abiding in Your continuous vision, which is beyond nature. Instill in me the growth of Your love, that I may come forth from this world and follow after Your fervent love. Raise up on me understanding of Your humility, wherewith You did sojourn in the world, in the tenement composed of our members, which You put on through the mediation of the Holy Virgin; may I, in the unceasing memory of this humility, accept with pleasure the humility of my nature. Amen.



On July 1st Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy and wonderworking (miracleworking) Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damianos (Damian), who were perfected in martyrdom in Rome; our Righteous Father Basil, who founded the Monastery of the Deep Stream; our Righteous Father Peter the Patrician; our Righteous Father Leo the Hermit; Holy 2,000 Martyrs perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Martyr Maurice, having been smeared with honey and stung by bees; Holy Twenty-five Martyrs of Nicomedia were perfected in martyrdom by fire; Holy Martyr Constantine and those with him were beheaded in Cyprus; Holy Martyr Potitus of Italy; Saint Servanus, Apostle and Patron of the Orkney Islands; Saint Gallus, Bishop of Clermont; Saint Leontius, Bishop of Radauti in Moldavia.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Righteous, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Monks, Holy Hermits, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

HOLY MARTYRS COSMAS AND DAMIANOS (DAMIAN). Unmercenary doctors and wonderworkers, these two Saints were brothers. Born in Rome, baptized as children and given a Christian education, they were endowed by God with the gift of healing, generally by the laying-on of their hands, of both men and animals. They sought no reward for their work, only urging the sick to faith in Christ the Lord. Inheriting great wealth, they compassionately divided it among the poor and needy. The Emperor Galerius was on the throne in Rome at that time. Persecutors of the Christian faith brought these two holy brothers, bound in chains, before him. After prolonged interrogation, the pagan Roman Emperor charged them to deny Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. Saints Cosmas and Damianos not only refused to obey the Emperor; they urged him to forsake dead idols and come to the knowledge of the One, True God. "Our God is not created, but is the Creator of all, and your gods come of the imaginings of men and the hands of artists. If there were no artists to make your gods, you would have nothing to worship." After a miracle performed on the Emperor himself--healing him of a grave infirmity--the Emperor declared his faith in Christ and let the holy brothers go in peace. They continued to glorify Christ our God and to heal the sick, and were themselves glorified on all sides by the people. A doctor, a former teacher or theirs, envying their fame, lured them to death. They suffered with honor for the Christian faith in the year of our Lord 284. Their memory endures in the Church on earth, and their souls went to the Kingdom of the Lord, to live eternally in glory and joy.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

O Holy Unmercenaries and wonderworkers, visit our infirmities; freely ye received, freely give to us.

Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone

Having received the grace of healing, ye extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.



Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; 13:1-8

Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:1, 5-8


"Be near us, be near, You Who are everywhere. As You are also always with Your Apostles, so too unite Yourself with those who long for You." (Saint Romanos the Melodist)


(Source: Part I, Chapter 3 from the Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession) by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite.

Concerning these you must know that, just as a physician is required to know what the illnesses of the body are in order to treat them, you who seek to be a Spiritual Father are obliged to know what the illnesses of the soul are, that is, sins, in order to treat them. Although the illnesses of the soul are many, they generally fall into the following three categories. Hence, you need to know which are mortal, which are pardonable and not mortal, and which are sins of omission or inaction.

Concerning Mortal Sins

According to Gennadios Scholarios, George Koressios, the Orthodox Confession, and Chrysanthos of Jerusalem, mortal sins are those voluntary sins which either corrupt the love for God alone, or the love for neighbor and for God, and which render again the one committing them an enemy of God and liable to the eternal death of hell. Generally speaking, they are: pride, love of money, sexual immorality, envy, gluttony, anger, and despondency or indifference.

Concerning Pardonable Sins

Pardonable sins are those voluntary sins which do not corrupt the love for God or the love for neighbor, nor do they render the person an enemy of God and liable to eternal death, to which transgressions even the Saints are susceptible, according to the words of the Brother of God: "For in many things we all sin" (St. James 3:2), and of St. John: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" (St. John 1:8), and according to holy Canons 125,126, and 127 of Carthage. These sins, according to Koressios and Chrysanthos, are: idle talk, the initial inclination and agitation of anger, the initial inclination of lust, the initial inclination of hate, a white lie, passing envy, or that which is commonly called jealousy, which is slight grief over the good fortunes of one's neighbor and the like.

Know also, Spiritual Father, that the many sins which are generally called pardonable are not of one and the same degree, but they are of varying degrees, smaller and larger, lower and higher, and that pardonable sins and mortal sins are two extremes. For in between these extremes there are found varying degrees of sins, beginning from the pardonable ones and proceeding up to the mortal ones, which degrees were not given names by the Ancients, perhaps because they are many and varied according to the class and specific kind of sins, but could have named them if they so desired.

Concerning Sins of Omission

Those good works, or words, or thoughts, which are capable of being done or thought by someone, but through negligence were not done, or said, or thought, are called sins of omission, and are brought forth from the mortal sin of despondency, as we have said.  I know very well that these sins of omission are not considered by people as full sins, because those are few who consider it a sin if they did not perform such a charity when they were able to, or had the means to either give good advice to their neighbor, or to do a certain amount of prayer, or do another virtue, and did not.

But this, however, I know for certain, that God will render an account on the Day of Judgment concerning these. Who verifies this for us? The example of that slothful servant who had the one talent and buried it in the ground, who was judged, not because he had committed any sin or injustice with it (because he who gave the talent to him took it all back, as Basil the Great says in the Introduction of The Long Rules), but because being able to increase it, was negligent and did not increase it: "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury" (St. Matthew 25:27). It is also verified for us by the example of the five foolish virgins who were condemned for nothing other than an absence of oil. And concerning the sinners placed at the left hand, they will be condemned, not because they committed any sin, but because they were lacking and were not merciful to their brother: "For I was hungry, and you gave me not meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink" (St. Matthew 25:42). The reason that God gave to man natural strength was not in order to leave it idle and useless, without results and fruit, just as that slothful servant left the talent of the Lord idle, as we said above, but He gave it to man in order for man to put into action, and into practice, and for it to increase, doing good with it and the Commandments of the Lord, and so be saved through this. On this account Saint Basil the Great said: "We have already received from God the power to fulfill all the Commandments given us by Him, so that we may not take our obligation in bad part, as though something quite strange and unexpected were being asked of us, and that we may not become filled with conceit, as if we were paying back something more than had been given us." And also in agreement with the above words, his brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, says: "As each shall receive his wages, just as the Apostle Paul says (1 Corinthians 3:14), according to his labor, so also each shall receive punishment according to the extent of their negligence."

Those things which are also called sins of omission are those which we were able to prevent, by word or act, but did not prevent. On this account those who commit these are likewise penanced according to the holy Canon 71 of Saint Basil the Great, and holy Canon 25 of Saint John the Faster.

Furthermore, Spiritual Father, you must know that the degrees of sin from the beginning until the end are twelve. The first degree is when someone does good, but not in a proper manner, mixing the good with the bad. This occurs in seven ways, as Saint Basil the Great says, "As regards the place, the time, the person, the matter involved, or in a manner intemperate, or disorderly, or with improper dispositions." An example of a sin of the first degree is when someone performs an act of mercy, or fasts, or does some other good deed, so that he might be glorified (praised) by people. The second degree of sin is complete idleness in regard to the good. The third degree is an assault of evil. The fourth is coupling. The fifth is struggle. The sixth is consent. The seventh is the sin according to the intellect, according to Saint Maximos, which is when a person, having consented, plans carefully to accomplish that sin which is in his intellect so as to do the deed. The eighth is the deed itself and the sinful act. The ninth is the habit of someone committing the sin often. The tenth is the addiction to sin, which with violence and force compels the person to sin voluntarily and involuntarily. The eleventh is despair. So then, Spiritual Father, you must try assiduously in every way to turn the sinner around to smaller degrees of sin and to prevent him from proceeding to the greater degrees ahead. And most of all, you must endeavor to sever him from despair, no matter in how great a degree of sin he is found.

Worthy of attention and fear is that which the sacred Augustine says (On the First Epistle of John and On the Saints, Homily 41)) which is in accord with many others that many small sins create a larger one. This is understood, according to Koressios, when a person dismisses small sins as small, because the one continuously stealing small things sins mortally.


Please note: "The standard of judgment is uncalculated mercy toward the needy. The works produced by faith are emphasized, for a saving faith produces righteous works. It is possible to fool ourselves about whether we truly believe, but what we do so reflects our true inner state that we will need no other evidence before God's court. The needy are the intimate "brethren" of Christ. "The least of these" may refer primarily to Christian missionaries or to needy Christians and, by extension, all who suffer. Jesus identifies Himself with the poor and the outcast and invites to brotherhood all who are kindled with love for others. "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?' And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (1 John 4:20). [Orthodox Study Bible]

Orthodoxia (Orthodoxy) without Orthopraxia (Orthopraxy) cannot exist. Our Orthodox Christian faith must always be translated into works of love and faith. You, as Orthodox Christians, must understand that the Church is Christ, the Kingdom is Christ, salvation is Christ and that the mind of the Church is Christ. We, as Orthodox Christians, must be obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ in everything. We can never act independently as individuals but in total obedience to Him. All Christians must remain faithful to Him and to His divine Commandments and teachings. "This is love, that we walk according to His Commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it." (2 John 1:6). And, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8). "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9)


The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


May the Lord God, strengthen the holy and pure faith of devout Orthodox Christians, and of His Holy Church, this city and Parish, to the endless ages. Amen.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George