Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LXXXVI.: OF THE STAIN OF SIN. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION LXXXVI.: OF THE STAIN OF SIN. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE STAIN OF SIN.
Article I.—Does sin cause any stain on the soul?
R. A stain properly so called is spoken of in material things, when some lustrous body loses its lustre by contact with another body, as in the case of clothes, gold and silver, and the like. This is the image that must be kept to when we speak of a stain in spiritual things. Now the soul of man has a twofold lustre, one from the shining of the natural light of reason, whereby it is guided in its acts; the other from the shining of the divine light of wisdom and grace, whereby man is further perfected unto good and seemly action. Now there is a sort of contact of the soul, when it clings to any objects by love. But when it sins, it clings to objects in despite of the light of reason and of the divine law. It is just this loss of lustre, arising from such a contact, that is called metaphorically a stain on the soul.
Article II.—Does the stain remain upon the soul after the act of sin?
R. The stain of sin remains on the soul even when the act of sin passes. The reason is, because this stain signifies a certain lack of lustre, consequent upon a departure from reason or from the divine law. Wherefore, so long as the man remains out and away from this light, the stain of sin remains on him; but when he returns to the light of reason and the light divine, which return is the work of grace, then the stain ceases. But the mere cessation of the act of sin, whereby the man departed from the light of reason and of the divine law, does not involve his immediate return to the state in which he had been, but some movement of the will contrary to the first movement is required: just as when one has moved away to a distance from another, he does not become near him again the instant the movement ceases, but has to come back by a contrary movement.1
[1 ]The utilitarian sees no stain in sin. See Grote’s Plato, ii. p. 108, where this notion of a stain is distinctly repudiated. See too Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 186, 187. (Trl.)