Am I in a state of mortal sin?


#1

How can I be sure that I am or am not in a state of mortal sin?


#2

You can only be in a state of mortal sin if these three conditions are met:

[list]*]you’ve committed a grave sin
*]you have full knowledge that it’s a grave sin
*]and you’ve committed it with deliberate consent[/list]

Therefore, since both ‘full knowledge’ and ‘deliberate consent’ are requirements, you cannot commit mortal sin without knowing it. If you’re unsure, then you don’t ‘know it’, and therefore, there’s no mortal sin. :thumbsup:

(Of course, you can’t just ‘pretend’ that you “don’t know it” when you do (or when you should)… but that isn’t what you’ve suggested here. Therefore, it would seem that your question is easily enough answered: if you’re truly unsure, then you’re not in a state of mortal sin.)


#3

Unless you are scrupulous I tend to say if it is grave matter then don’t worry so much if it meets all three criteria. Ignorance may lessen ones culpability, but grave matter is still serious even if not all conditions for mortality are meet. Because humans tend to deceive themselves I tend more toward assumption of mortality with grave matter. We should hate all sin regardless if it is venial or mortal.

Personally I would rather repent and confess grave matter regardless of the degree of culpability. I don’t want to second guess if I was 100% or maybe only 99% on the full knowledge scale. Humans are really good about convincing ourselves to see things in a specific light, so I prefer using the only objective criteria (grave matter) rather than letting the subjective (full knowledge and full consent) be the primary guide.

Long and short is we can never be 100% sure, but I tend to be conservative when it comes to my soul.

For anyone who is scrupulous then all bets are off. They need to trust their confessor to guide them.


#4

It is also possible to sin mortally by intentionally committing an act or omission that is not gravely sinful, but ** thought** to be gravely sinful, when one can choose freely. The classic example is the theft of a item of cheap costume jewelry thought to be a costly diamond. The thought that it is gravely sinful shows the malice.


#5

Threads like this bother me intensely - because OPs tend to be scrupulous, but moreover because of all the posters who want to jump all over themselves and show how smart they are, splitting hairs and giving all sorts of explanations of what mortal sin is, why maybe the OP is in mortal sin, etc.

I think a better response than any pseudo-moral theology is “why do you think you’re in mortal sin?” Heck, OP can’t even give us that.


#6

Please speak to your Priest.


#7

^^^ Best answer.


#8

:hmmm:

Hmm… citation, please?


#9

It is commonly taught in moral theology that if you mistakenly believe an act to be immoral, and you nevertheless freely choose that act, you sin:

“An action which, as a matter of fact, is contrary to the Divine law but is not known to be such by the agent constitutes a material sin; whereas formal sin is committed when the agent freely transgresses the law as shown him by his conscience, whether such law really exists or is only thought to exist by him who acts.” Catholic Encyclopedia

The Biblical basis for this idea is found in Romans 14 and 1 Cor 8 and 10


#10

This question is rooted in an underdeveloped conscience. The conscience is at the very heart of morality. While it’s good to continually learn and correct your conscience, it is not good to continually doubt your conscience, to fear it being wrong and to constantly live in a state of fear of accidentally falling into a mortal sin. This is ultimately based on a faulty understanding of the gospel and Christianity and tends to lead one not to Christ but to scrupulosity.

Now traditionally mortal sins are categorized as
grave offense
knowledge of gravity
full consent of the will

Well meaning people frequently wrongfully reduce this to mean “Is it on the list of grave offenses? Do I know it’s on the list? Was this act not an accident or something that was forced upon me against my will?”

The Church’s teaching, contrary to popular opinion, actually for the most part understands the complexities of moral decision making. It offers us official teachings. So as long as we’re not just saying “Well, I just disagree with confirmed official Church teaching” rather than “I’m not exactly sure what the right thing to do here is. It seems more complicated than some people are making it.” than we’re good.

The key is to form and follow your conscience, accepting that it’ll make mistakes and you’ll continually be learning all your life. I personally don’t believe anyone trying to follow Christ with a sincere heart actually commits mortal sins. Grave sins, yes, certainly ones that need healing and confession. I would encourage everyone to confess grave sins they’ve committed immediately, but not to live in a state of feeling like you’re jumping in and out of the potential of going to hell multiple times throughout a month or year.


#11

Fair enough. That’s not what the claim was, though, and that’s not what I was questioning. The claim is that one sins mortally by virtue of a ‘mistaken’ (i.e., formal but not material) sin. That seems to me to be a false proposition; after all, one of the requirements of mortal sin is ‘grave matter’, not ‘the subjective perception of grave matter’. So, if anyone has any citations that back up Vico’s assertion that one sins mortally when sinning only formally, it’d be interesting to read those citations. :thumbsup:


#12

St. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Spendor, 1993

  1. Like the natural law itself and all practical knowledge, the judgment of conscience also has an imperative character: man must act in accordance with it. If man acts against this judgment or, in a case where he lacks certainty about the rightness and goodness of a determined act, still performs that act, he stands condemned by his own conscience, “the proximate norm of personal morality.” The dignity of this rational forum and the authority of its voice and judgments derive from the “truth” about moral good and evil, which it is called to listen to and to express. This truth is indicated by the “divine law”, “the universal and objective norm of morality.”

newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02vs.htm

Catechism
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.


#13

Not applicable. We’re not talking about cases where a person acts against his conscience or even when he’s uncertain about his conscience (which this quote addresses), but rather, cases in which a person acts in accord with his [certain] conscience which, unbeknownst to him, is objectively mistaken.

Catechism
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Again, not entirely applicable. We’re not talking about “deliberate choice of evil” (which is what the catechism is addressing here), we’re talking about “deliberate choice of mistakenly presumed evil.” Big difference – and it’s only the latter, not the catechism’s former, that we’re talking about here!


#14

It is applicable to my original post:

Originally Posted by Vico:
It is also possible to sin mortally by intentionally committing an act or omission that is not gravely sinful, but thought to be gravely sinful, when one can choose freely. The classic example is the theft of a item of cheap costume jewelry thought to be a costly diamond. The thought that it is gravely sinful shows the malice.

It is not about sin that “unbeknownst to him, is objectively mistaken”.

The Catechism certainly is addressing deliberate choice of evil: “Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.”


#15

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