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  #1  
Old Jun 4, '08, 10:21 am
smithmj77 smithmj77 is offline
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Default Tell someone they're sinning?

I have several Catholic friends who miss Sunday mass mostly because "we can't get the kids ready in time", "just can't get up on Sundays", etc. etc. So, I have two questions:

1. If someone commits a mortal sin, but they don't know that it is a mortal sin, have they sinned?

2. How do I go about informing them in the nicest way possible that they are committing a mortal sin? I have been avoiding saying anything up to this point. I am truly concerned about the state of their souls.

Thank you!
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  #2  
Old Jun 4, '08, 10:49 am
nobeerinheaven nobeerinheaven is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithmj77 View Post
1. If someone commits a mortal sin, but they don't know that it is a mortal sin, have they sinned?
One cannot commit a mortal sin without knowledge that what they are doing is morally wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithmj77
2. How do I go about informing them in the nicest way possible that they are committing a mortal sin?
I think one of the easiest ways is to give them some material that talks about the meaning of the mass and includes the important information that missing mass is gravely wrong. That way they see the information coming more from the material you gave them than from you - and likewise wont feel as though you've been judging them.

Good luck, though, I know how tricky it is to inform people that something is a sin - particularly when it is a mortal sin.
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  #3  
Old Jun 4, '08, 11:00 am
Caesar517 Caesar517 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

There are three conditions for a sin to be mortal:

1) The action must constitute grave matter.

2) The person must have full knowlegde that the action is sinful.

3) The sin must be committed with full consent of the will.

So to answer your first question, there is no way to know for certain of someone has sinned because you don't know their hearts. Your friends do not seem to think they are endangering their souls, or else they would do their best not to miss Mass. At the same time, they must have some idea that they shouldn't be missing Mass, or they wouldn't need to make excuses.

Intentionally not recieving the Eucharist is grave matter. Your friends seem to be meeting conditions 1 and 3. I cannot judge on condition 2, but I think they likely know they shouldn't be missing Mass.

Informing someone else of their sinful actions is very tricky. Sometimes people will get very defensive (just human nature). There is no "right way" to speak to them about this. You will need to approach the matter very delicately. You should remind them that we should not ever recieve the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin. Reccomend that they go to confession and start attending Mass regularly. Good luck.
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  #4  
Old Jun 4, '08, 11:34 am
GemmaRose GemmaRose is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nobeerinheaven View Post
One cannot commit a mortal sin without knowledge that what they are doing is morally wrong.

I think one of the easiest ways is to give them some material that talks about the meaning of the mass and includes the important information that missing mass is gravely wrong. That way they see the information coming more from the material you gave them than from you - and likewise wont feel as though you've been judging them.

Good luck, though, I know how tricky it is to inform people that something is a sin - particularly when it is a mortal sin.
It's really difficult to say because each person and each situation is different, but I think it would be good - if you are planning to give your friends some material on the Mass - to try to avoid material along the lines of "IT'S A MORTAL SIN TO MISS MASS AND YOU'LL GO TO HELL !!!" and try to find materials which explain the benefits of Mass (and Confession).

With a very close friend, you could probably make a more direct approach, but with either approach, remember that it may not work no matter what you do.

I was once very good friends with someone whose faith I sometimes questioned (interiorly). We sang in the choir together and I believe she was involved in another volunteer group (don't remember now). She liked to hang out in bars, and every once in a while, she would... ahem... "hook up" with someone. I asked her once, "How can you do that on Saturday night and then receive Communion the next morning?" Her response was: "So what? Everybody does it!?

Some people just don't "get it," or take a much longer time than others to "get it."

I would suggest that if you are close enough to your friends, maybe you can set up a date for a Sunday morning Mass followed by brunch together. (If possible, try to make it to Mass at a parish that is known for having a dynamic homilist who might wake your friends from their stupor!)

Good luck.

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  #5  
Old Jun 4, '08, 11:51 am
rlg94086 rlg94086 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GemmaRose View Post
It's really difficult to say because each person and each situation is different, but I think it would be good - if you are planning to give your friends some material on the Mass - to try to avoid material along the lines of "IT'S A MORTAL SIN TO MISS MASS AND YOU'LL GO TO HELL !!!" and try to find materials which explain the benefits of Mass (and Confession).

With a very close friend, you could probably make a more direct approach, but with either approach, remember that it may not work no matter what you do.

I was once very good friends with someone whose faith I sometimes questioned (interiorly). We sang in the choir together and I believe she was involved in another volunteer group (don't remember now). She liked to hang out in bars, and every once in a while, she would... ahem... "hook up" with someone. I asked her once, "How can you do that on Saturday night and then receive Communion the next morning?" Her response was: "So what? Everybody does it!?

Some people just don't "get it," or take a much longer time than others to "get it."

I would suggest that if you are close enough to your friends, maybe you can set up a date for a Sunday morning Mass followed by brunch together. (If possible, try to make it to Mass at a parish that is known for having a dynamic homilist who might wake your friends from their stupor!)

Good luck.
Good advice GemmaRose and nobeerinheaven.

Keeping the right attitude when discussing sin and Church teaching is important. Share the Truth in a loving way. Hopefully, you will be an instrument in God's hands, for He is only through His Grace that someone will change their beliefs.

I like to reflect on Brother Jerome Leo's quote, which I placed in my signature: "God works slowly, according to our individual needs. Better than anyone, He knows that doing it all at once would reduce us to shivering panic."

If you can think about a change of heart that you had, more than likely you will note that it wasn't immediate, and it wasn't due to someone telling you that you would go to hell. I used to be more blase about Mass attendance. It took study, input from others and a fantastic priest to set me straight.
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  #6  
Old Jun 4, '08, 12:25 pm
smithmj77 smithmj77 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Thank you everyone for your quick responses and advice! Do you have any specific suggestions on books about mass?

Thanks again!
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  #7  
Old Jun 4, '08, 12:31 pm
rpp rpp is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithmj77 View Post
Thank you everyone for your quick responses and advice! Do you have any specific suggestions on books about mass?

Thanks again!
A more general book, gently written and fun to read is Catholicism for Dummies by Fathers Trigilio and Brighenti. Here is a link for it on Amazon.

It not only covers the Mass, it covers lots of other things as well.

A more specific book about the Mass may not appeal to them. A more general one may be better.

Good luck with your friends. And God bless you for being so concerned about their immortal souls!
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  #8  
Old Jun 4, '08, 3:55 pm
GemmaRose GemmaRose is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rpp View Post
A more general book, gently written and fun to read is Catholicism for Dummies by Fathers Trigilio and Brighenti. Here is a link for it on Amazon.

It not only covers the Mass, it covers lots of other things as well.

A more specific book about the Mass may not appeal to them. A more general one may be better.

Good luck with your friends. And God bless you for being so concerned about their immortal souls!
And if you want to be REALLY gentle, thumb through "Catholicism for Dummies" a few times so it doesn't look totally brand new and approach your friend with something like, "I found this really good book that answered some questions I had. Would you like to read it?"

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  #9  
Old Jun 4, '08, 5:17 pm
rlg94086 rlg94086 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GemmaRose View Post
And if you want to be REALLY gentle, thumb through "Catholicism for Dummies" a few times so it doesn't look totally brand new and approach your friend with something like, "I found this really good book that answered some questions I had. Would you like to read it?"
There is an old sales formula that I hesitate to post (because people hate salesmen), but it really is a good way to approach people about controversial subjects and is similar to what you are saying. It is called Feel-Felt-Found.

"I know how you feel...I felt the same way...here's what I found out."

Now, this is only an honest approach, if you actually felt that way. If you didn't, then don't say it! Also, of course, you don't need to use those exact words. The point is to show that you have empathy for their position...hopefully you do.
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  #10  
Old Jun 4, '08, 8:34 pm
nobeerinheaven nobeerinheaven is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Yeah, seconding the "Catholicism for Dummies" recommendation - it is partially responsible for converting me to the Catholic faith, too, particularly as it got me to go to Mass with my wife, after I found out it was a mortal sin for her to be missing (because of me).
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  #11  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:51 am
smithmj77 smithmj77 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Thanks again everyone! Very helpful. I do have a copy of Catholicism for Dummies and I use it a lot. It never occured to me recommend it to my friends.

Thanks!
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  #12  
Old Jun 5, '08, 4:29 am
Nickkname Nickkname is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithmj77 View Post
I have several Catholic friends who miss Sunday mass mostly because "we can't get the kids ready in time", "just can't get up on Sundays", etc. etc. So, I have two questions:

How do I go about informing them in the nicest way possible that they are committing a mortal sin? I have been avoiding saying anything up to this point. I am truly concerned about the state of their souls.

Thank you!
Tell them that missing Mass is a mortal sin. In those exact words. You gotta keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

And remember, correcting a sinner is a work of mercy. If your friends challenge that missing Mass is a mortal sin or correcting a sinner is a work of mercy, show them what is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (You can find the works of mercy in the Compendium of the Catechism).
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  #13  
Old Jun 5, '08, 1:05 pm
wcknight wcknight is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Pointing out someone else's faults is never a good idea. Although we may have some obligations to help each other overcome our weaknesses, we must be careful not to appear too self rightgeous or hypocritical.

I would think that all Catholics are taught that missing mass without a very good reason, is a mortal sin. The problem is that many Catholics act as though they believe this is not the case.

Pointing this out to someone with flimsy excuses would seem to be a waste of time. They obviously have a different opinion. It is highly unlikely that they are unaware that the Church considers it a mortal sin.
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  #14  
Old Jun 5, '08, 1:15 pm
Aquinas74 Aquinas74 is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wcknight View Post
Pointing out someone else's faults is never a good idea. Although we may have some obligations to help each other overcome our weaknesses, we must be careful not to appear too self rightgeous or hypocritical.

I would think that all Catholics are taught that missing mass without a very good reason, is a mortal sin. The problem is that many Catholics act as though they believe this is not the case.

Pointing this out to someone with flimsy excuses would seem to be a waste of time. They obviously have a different opinion. It is highly unlikely that they are unaware that the Church considers it a mortal sin.
Fraternal Correction if it is done with Charity and love, can be a very beneficial thing. We live in avery Morally relativistic society which says that we should not do such things. Moral Relativism as Pope Benedict has pointed out is one of the great dangers in Society.
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  #15  
Old Jun 5, '08, 1:29 pm
wcknight wcknight is offline
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Default Re: Tell someone they're sinning?

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Originally Posted by Aquinas74 View Post
Fraternal Correction if it is done with Charity and love, can be a very beneficial thing. We live in avery Morally relativistic society which says that we should not do such things. Moral Relativism as Pope Benedict has pointed out is one of the great dangers in Society.
The trick is how does one do such a thing 'with charity and love' without appearing dogmatic, condescending, etc. I agree completely with the Pope that many folks are bending the rules to suit their own conveniences. How to correct this without being too confrontational is the problem.

The reaction to being corrected by someone else, is more than likely to be not well received. I can see a pastor from the pulpit or priest in confession correcting folks with a sermon or advice. But coming from a fellow parishioner or even a friend may appear to be a bit pompous.
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