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  #1  
Old Oct 28, '12, 9:42 pm
iseekanswers iseekanswers is offline
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Default Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

Hello all!

I'm preparing for my First Confession, and I was recommended by someone on this Forum to use the iPhone/iTouch app "Mea Culpa." So, as I'm going through and examining my conscience, I notice that "Lying" is under venial sins, whereas "False Witness (not under oat) or perjury (under oath)" is under mortal sins. There's also "Telling large or premeditated lies."

I was just wondering if someone could help me distinguish between the two?

The specific reason is this (apologies, I know this is going to be a longish read):

So, I'm a graduate student, and my father gave me money to pay for my course fees and my school's health insurance. However, after he gave me the money and I went to purchase the aforementioned health insurance, I found that the window to purchase it had passed (though I was able to pay the course fees). Unfortunately, I am not very good with keeping money in my account, so I ended up spending most of it. Some of it went towards food and living expenses, but some of it also went towards unnecessary expenditures (eating out, going to the movies, a Halloween costume, and so forth).

So, I definitely plan on telling him that I wasn't able to buy the health insurance (because he did give me that money for that purpose, and even though I fully intended to buy the health insurance, it didn't end up happening). However, I don't want to go into detail about what I spent it on. If he asked me directly what I spent the money on, I think I would disclose the details to him. However, would it be a sin for me to keep the details to myself if he didn't ask? Would this count as a mortal sin?

Thank you all for your time!
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  #2  
Old Oct 28, '12, 9:56 pm
underacloud underacloud is online now
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

Quote:
Originally Posted by iseekanswers View Post
So, I definitely plan on telling him that I wasn't able to buy the health insurance (because he did give me that money for that purpose, and even though I fully intended to buy the health insurance, it didn't end up happening). However, I don't want to go into detail about what I spent it on. If he asked me directly what I spent the money on, I think I would disclose the details to him. However, would it be a sin for me to keep the details to myself if he didn't ask? Would this count as a mortal sin?
No, I don't see any sin, let alone mortal, in not telling him all the details if he doesn't ask. Just tell him about the money and if he asks how you spent it, tell him; if he doesn't ask, don't worry.

This is a good question for someone preparing for confession and provides an opportunity to talk about something...in confession, your priest will ask you if he needs more details regarding any sin you confess. You should tell him the type of sin and any aggravating circumstances, but don't need to go into every detail. Some people can drive themselves batty worrying that their confession wasn't detailed enough, but confession is a conversation and the priest is there to play a role, including going into detail if required. Once absolution is given, the penitent should move forward.

Good luck. A first confession can be daunting. But it is truly a beautiful sacrament that brings great peace and knowledge of the love of God.
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  #3  
Old Oct 28, '12, 10:16 pm
iseekanswers iseekanswers is offline
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

Thank you so much, underacloud!
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  #4  
Old Oct 28, '12, 10:33 pm
underacloud underacloud is online now
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

No problem, good luck with your father!
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  #5  
Old Oct 28, '12, 11:06 pm
Qwestions Qwestions is offline
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

Hi, iseekanswers. Welcome home to your new faith!

I would suggest that you read other examinations of conscience so that you gain as wide scope as you can on the nuances of difference in the various classifications of sin. Sometimes only a slight variation in wording can clarify an issue that, before reading it, was fairly muddled. An Internet search should reveal several. The more you read, the more you expand your understanding.

Best wishes to you!
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  #6  
Old Oct 29, '12, 7:38 am
jere610 jere610 is offline
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

This is just my opinion so only take it as that. . .I'm far from an expert. ..

That said, I think you should share the details. It is the honest, and right thing to do. I think you know that. I suspect that not sharing the details could be a sin of omission?? Maybe someone else, including your priest, could tell you for sure. I suspect it is still venial, but, again, your priest/confessor will be able to help decide that.

Praying for you as you do your first Confession! Welcome to the Church.
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  #7  
Old Oct 29, '12, 3:15 pm
underacloud underacloud is online now
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

Quote:
Originally Posted by jere610 View Post
I suspect that not sharing the details could be a sin of omission?
That's not what the sin of omission refers to. It is the sin of not doing something that one should do...such as standing idly by while another person is being robbed (eg the ending of Seinfeld). It is not the sin of omitting details (I'm not sure there is a technical term for this).

If he spent the money on something sinful in itself (eg porn, drugs), then it would be considered a relevant factor and one that should be raised in confession...and perhaps by extension to his father. But given the items were morally neutral, they have no direct bearing.

Of course, I'm no expert either and these are only my opinions/understanding.
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  #8  
Old Oct 31, '12, 9:52 am
iseekanswers iseekanswers is offline
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

So, something weird happened.

I called my Dad, unable to talk with him at the moment because I'm in my office and my cell phone is still charging. I told him that I couldn't talk at the moment, but that I needed to talk to him later.

He asked, "Is it about money?"

I think I was thinking that he meant, "Do you need money?" (which is usually what he means when he asks "Is it about money?"). Since I currently don't need money, I told him, no.

He started talking for a few more seconds before I realized and said, "Well, yes, it is about money."

Please understand, I didn't have the intention of deceiving him and still fully intend to explain the situation via phone once my cell has enough charge. Did I commit a mortal sin by knee-jerkingly saying "no" (even though I shortly after corrected myself)?

(I just had my First Confession today and I'm getting Confirmed/First Communion on Sunday, and I'm wondering if something like this means that I have to go to Confession again)
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  #9  
Old Oct 31, '12, 2:33 pm
underacloud underacloud is online now
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Default Re: Lying vs. Bearing False Witness

A few comments:

a) No, nothing you described there seems to even be any sin, let alone mortal sin. Certainly not mortal sin.

b) It's early yet, since you've only just had your first confession, but it sounds like you have the anxiety of what is called scrupulosity.

Here is a description: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13640a.htm


If you find yourself constantly worrying that this or that was a sin, especially if you worry about mortal sins, then you should find a regular confessor and discuss such things with him.

Also, do you understand the requirements for mortal sin? Here is a description from the catechism:

Quote:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Please note, mortal sin requires grave matter - it has to be something very serious. A small lie would not usually be considered grave matter, as you note in your first post.

Also note that you need knowledge (that whatever-it-is is wrong) and full consent. An unintentional lie cannot meet the requirement of full consent. You have to know that you're deliberately committing the sin at the time.

I hope this helps. All the best.
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