Advice on mortal sin

Hi there,

Just wondering if anyone could clarify the following:

Is it a mortal sin not to trust the advice a priest gives you in confession. (I know that this is part of my scrupolosity and in order to get over it I have to learn to trust my confessor).

However, I started to double check some advice he gave me on the internet. I was looking at a very black and white point of view and didn’t trust his judgement. However, on reflection, I think that his advice was actually good.

Did I commit a mortal sin by checking up on the information he gave me and by doubting him.

Also, I’m not sure, but I may have had an inkling that it was wrong to be thinking this way, I didn’t think in my mind that it was a mortal sin.

I know that if you think that you are committing a mortal sin or that you are not sure if it’s a mortal sin and do it anyhow, it becomes a mortal sin automatically.

But in this case, I may have had an inkling that I shouldn’t be doing this (I can’t remember what my exact thoughts were at the time), but while I may have reflected on the wrongdoing, I didn’t reflect on the fact that it was mortally sinful.

Many people have told me that in order to commit a mortal sin you have to know that it is grave matter, not just that it’s sinful. i.e., you have to understand the gravity as well as the sinfulness of the matter.

I’ve also heard that if you know that something is sinful at all and do it willingly (without necessarily thinking that it’s grave), that if the action actually is grave, it becomes a mortal sin.

Any thoughts…

Did I commit a mortal sin by checking up on the information he gave me and by doubting him.

Verifying information is not the same as doubting.

It can be best in your case to bring the whole matter to your regular confessor (Note though that in saying this I am not saying you committed a mortal sin - I am saying bring your questions to him)- yes I know that it can be difficult to tell him this - but I assume he knows you and your scruples and is directing you.

You are now coming to the internet looking for answers - where as the age old way is to go to your regular confessor due to scrupulosity. You will get all sorts of answers on the internet and you need basically “one voice”. That of your regular confessor who knows you and your scruples.

Let me though add a post from the past of mine (discuss the content with him):

A person with scruples ought to have a “regular confessor” who knows them and their scruples and who can then direct them and even give him “general principles” for him to follow (he can be in quite a different boat than others). Taking responsibility for them (discuss this with your confessor).

Obedience then to his direction is key. And such is the age old approach in the Church established by Christ on St. Peter. Obedience (except of course manifest sin - such as he tells him it murder his secretary or use contraception! -such is manifest sin. Clear. Certain.)

The age old practice in dealing with scrupulosity is that the responsibility falls then on him (the regular confessor who knows the scrupulous penitent and thus directs him as “his regular confessor”) -even if he makes a mistake -the age old approach is that it is his mistake not penitents. Discuss this with your confessor.

Scruples are to be dismissed - not dialogued with or argued with.

A classic quote: Contra scruplos agendum est, et fixo operis pede certandum

(Act contrary to scruples and with a firm foot overcome them) -with the direction of ones regular confessor.

When scruples arise - turn to God and let them pass by (forget the source of the quote).

And finally to borrow an image from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago - treat scruples like one would a barking dog or a hissing goose -one does not stop to argue with a barking dog or a hissing goose does one?

Hi Bookcat,

Thanks for the advice.

Unfortunately, while I was debating the issue in my head I lost confidence in the priest and had a thought along the lines that if i continued to go to a priest who was so lenient I could end up going to hell and so would the priest. (this wasn’t the exact thought, but It was something along the lines). I then further thought that I’d be ok as confession was valid regardless of the advice or opinions of the priest. These thoughts just came into my mind as part of the internal debate. I did not dwell on them.

This priest has been really patient with me up to now and on reflection, I know that his advice has always been very good and insightful.

I’m wondering how I could confess this.

Would it be ok to make a general statement about doubting the advice of the priest and also having a thought concerning both of our salvations. Obviously, if he wanted more information I’d tell him the whole story.

Could I just mention that I had a judgemental thought (in error) about a priest and started wondering about this priest’s salvation. I could then mention doubting the priest as a separate sin. I know that we only have to mention species of sin and the number of times it was committed. However, what sin is this?

He is your regular confessor right? He knows your scruples already… It may be that you should simply lay this before him in simplicity…he is directing you right?

Hi there,

One final question.

I came back to confession one year ago and after my initial confession I kept thinking of mortal sins that I forgot to mention in my initial confession.

The priest told me to draw the line under the past and move forward - not to mention past sins.

I have mentioned to him on several occasions that some of the sins from my past are forgotten mortal sins that have not been confessed. He has told me that this is ok so long as I am still sorry for them.

I assume that I should just take his advice and move on and not bring this issue up again with either him or a different priest.


It is difficult to answer - for some with scruples can be in a very different boat than the normal person - for some can scruple greatly about past sins- confessing things over and over…etc. and the confessor needs to draw a line.

Normally one is to confess forgotten mortal sins.

But some with scruples can get real tied up in knots - and can be in a different boat.

PM me and we can discuss further if you like.

I know I need to mention it.

This is probably a turning point in me deciding to trust the priest.

However. Is it ok to explain this lack of trust and doubting salvation without saying what the thought actually was. Could I simply say that I doubted his advice and ended up doubting the salvation of both himself and myself. I’ve confessed blasphemous thoughts on various occasions and the priest has told me not to go into detail. Unfortunately, I always go in with a long list of complications and I am trying to get better at confessing as briefly and accurately as I can.

This may well be the cure for scrupolosity that I need. I can see how scrupolosity is about pride and despair.

As to confession - remember always - one is not obliged to confess any venial sins or doubtful sins. Yes being brief can be difficult for those with your struggle -but that can help if you keep that in mind.

(for those who are not scrupulous - it is a good rule of thumb to confess doubtful mortal sins - noting there is doubt - but for those who are scrupulous it is often rather the opposite that is advised)

In this case, is it unnecessary to mention it as it is not possible to be sure that it is a mortal sin.

Also, If I did mention it (even as a doubtful mortal sin) would it be sufficient to confess it as doubts about confessor and doubts about salvation of both the priest and myself.

I really want to get this right (without completely putting my foot in it, as you can imagine).


See above :slight_smile:

(and since I am sending you a pm we can continue there if need be)

If you are scrupulous and are following direction from a priest on gray area matters of Faith, for all intensive purposes, you cannot sin by following such direction. Think of it as the priest acting as your conscience and taking any responsibility for the information he is dispensing.

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