Anybody up for a discussion on the Sacrament of Penance?

I’d like to carry on a discussion on the Sacrament of Penance. I’ve been reading on the subject and have more questions now than before I started.

Let’s start with mortal sin. I know in order for a sin to be considered mortal one of the conditions is that it must be a grave matter. The CCC states that a “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.”

This is confusing to me. Are all sins against the 10 Commandments considered grave? Don’t the 10 Commandments encompass all sin both venial & mortal? The term “grave” seems so subjective. I have found no source that makes the matter of gravity clear to me.

When in doubt Confess!!The Priest will set us straight! Also the last time I went to confession (last week) the Priest said that I was to say the Act of Contrition before I make a confession, that this is not said after the confession and absolution. I left hoping that it was a valid confession, and said the Act of Contrition on my own. All these changes!! :eek:

See CCC 1854-1864 for a fuller understanding of the distinctions between different types of sin. True, there is some “gray area”, which is why we are encouraged to also confess those sins that we may consider venial in nature.

From the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.

Rebecca,

I agree, when in doubt confess. The priest should help you discern the gravity of the sin. I just wish there were some literature that was more clear on the subject.

As for the Act of Contrition, we were asked to say it before we entered the confessional. However, I thought it was to be said during the absolution of sins. Someone else said they were asked to say it after confession.

Anybody have an answer & a source for either of the two topics?

Making money or some created thing more important than God.
Blasphamy (using the name of God to curse or without reverence.)
Not keeping the sabbath day sacred :bowdown:
Respect your parents, for they gave you life.
You must not take the life of another intentionally.
Remain Chaste, both in mind and body
Do not take what does not belong to you.
Do not accuse another falsely for any reason.
Be happy with the things which your God has given you.
Be content with your wife. and do not look lustfully at others.

ex. A lie about how much time it took you to finish a task would not be grave matter. A lie where you accuse someone of something they did not do would be grave matter. Killing a raccoon while driving would not be grave matter. Killing an unborn child is grave matter…
The act of Contrition follows the absolution of the priest.

[quote=msproule]See CCC 1854-1864 for a fuller understanding of the distinctions between different types of sin. True, there is some “gray area”, which is why we are encouraged to also confess those sins that we may consider venial in nature.

From the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.

[/quote]

The quote above once again states “grave” sins but does not go on to define what that means. The quote I gave on post #1 was CCC1858 by the way and is the only place I could locate any form of a definition.

[quote=tdandh26]Making money or some created thing more important than God.
Blasphamy (using the name of God to curse or without reverence.)
Not keeping the sabbath day sacred :bowdown:
Respect your parents, for they gave you life.
You must not take the life of another intentionally.
Remain Chaste, both in mind and body
Do not take what does not belong to you.
Do not accuse another falsely for any reason.
Be happy with the things which your God has given you.
Be content with your wife. and do not look lustfully at others.

ex. A lie about how much time it took you to finish a task would not be grave matter. A lie where you accuse someone of something they did not do would be grave matter. Killing a raccoon while driving would not be grave matter. Killing an unborn child is grave matter…
The act of Contrition follows the absolution of the priest.
[/quote]

Yes, here again we see sins agains the 10 Commandments, but how do you determine gravity? I guess this is where the 2nd conition comes into play - full knowledge.

[quote=Quaere Verum]I’d like to carry on a discussion on the Sacrament of Penance. I’ve been reading on the subject and have more questions now than before I started.

Let’s start with mortal sin. I know in order for a sin to be considered mortal one of the conditions is that it must be a grave matter. The CCC states that a “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.”

This is confusing to me. Are all sins against the 10 Commandments considered grave? Don’t the 10 Commandments encompass all sin both venial & mortal? The term “grave” seems so subjective. I have found no source that makes the matter of gravity clear to me.
[/quote]

All sins could technically be considered to come under one or other of the 10 Commandments - at a pinch. Objectively and subjectively, however, of course there’s a huge difference between (let’s say) stealing a biro from your boss’s desk and stealing $20 000 in cash from a drawer of the same desk.

A very useful tool to have is a good examination of conscience guide - there’s a thread about them here

If you use this, after a while it helps you develop within yourself a sense of what is or isn’t grave. Otherwise I also subscribe to the ‘if in doubt, confess it anyway’ theory. Why anyone wouldn’t be confessing as many of their sins of any kind as they can remember is beyond me.

It would be nice to have a very clear list. However, I fear that list would be far too long! Certainly, there can be no suitable definition within one or two sentences.

In short, there are countless sins that many would classify as venial that nonetheless are truly grave.

Thanks for the Examination of Conscience link LilyM. I looked at the guide to Examination of Conscience which was very helpful.

I still believe gravity is subjective and depends on a well formed conscience in the Catholic faith. For example, all stealing is a sin; however, the guide stated that stealing large amounts of money is a mortal sin. What does that mean? Is $1 a large amount? Not to most of us. Is $10,000 a large amount? Yes, to the majority of us. So where in between those two amounts does “large” start. And doesn’t it also depend on the person against whom the sin is commited? For example, stealing $1 from a homeless man is a graver sin than stealing $1 from a millionaire. Or is it?

Personality must also come into play, as well as a well formed conscience. Some people seem to be more acutely aware of sin and would define gravity very differently from an equally catechized person with a different personality. I guess then we get into scrupulosity.

But then wouldn’t they be mortal sins?

I’m full of questions today. My husband says my questions come across as confrontational. I apologize if they do. This is just the way I learn, and I appreciate all your responses. I am truly trying to process all that everybody says even if I throw a question back your way.

[quote=Quaere Verum]Thanks for the Examination of Conscience link LilyM. I looked at the guide to Examination of Conscience which was very helpful.

I still believe gravity is subjective and depends on a well formed conscience in the Catholic faith. For example, all stealing is a sin; however, the guide stated that stealing large amounts of money is a mortal sin. What does that mean? Is $1 a large amount? Not to most of us. Is $10,000 a large amount? Yes, to the majority of us. So where in between those two amounts does “large” start. And doesn’t it also depend on the person against whom the sin is commited? For example, stealing $1 from a homeless man is a graver sin than stealing $1 from a millionaire. Or is it?

Personality must also come into play, as well as a well formed conscience. Some people seem to be more acutely aware of sin and would define gravity very differently from an equally catechized person with a different personality. I guess then we get into scrupulosity.
[/quote]

Indeed - I along with a lot of other devout Catholics have been through periods of scrupulosity.

The most obvious source of information is the guidance given by the Church through its catechism and other documents and its priests and clergy, which we should avail ourselves of if we are in doubt.

Other than this I think as long as we are of sound mind and sincerely seeking not to sin our analysis of our own actions should be fine - for the most part it’s not meant to be a complex legalistic exercise.

LilyM,

I guess that’s why a good spiritual director and good confessor are so important.

Here’s what I gathered from your posts

  1. Stay informed; read the CCC to have a better understanding of sin.

  2. When in doubt - confess

  3. A good spiritual director & a good confessor will help in the area of discernment

  4. Nobody said this, but I’m sure you all agree - PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

Gotta go now. I’ll be back tomorrow at 4:00 more or less, so if anybody else wants to respond please do.

[quote=Quaere Verum]But then wouldn’t they be mortal sins?
[/quote]

Absolutely. What I am trying to say is that if somebody were to interpret the CCC as broadly as it seems to be written, then he is most likely guilty of far more grave, mortal sins than he realizes.

In addition to the nice summary you provided, I also would recommend adding frequent confession to the list.

I think the grace we receive from the Sacrament itself helps to deepen our awareness of temptation and sin.

As for the Act of Contrition, we were asked to say it before we entered the confessional. However, I thought it was to be said during the absolution of sins. Someone else said they were asked to say it after confession.

I am a candidate going through the RCIA process, and I recieved the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time yesterday. I said an Act of Contrition after I confessed my sins, and before I recieved absolution.

I just went to confession Saturday - confessed my sins and said the act of contrition. I was given absolution after that. But when I went several months ago, the priest gave me absolution during the act of contrition.

Most definately; kinda silly to have left that one off on a thread about confession. Thanks for the reminder.

The second aspect of confession & forgiveness which I would like to discuss is contrition. Now I realize there is perfect & imperfect contrition. To have perfect contrition we are to have true sorrow & hatred for our sins because of a deep love for God & sorrow that we have offended Him. Imperfect contrition is when we are contrite because we fear the punishment we deserve.

What about confessing our sins because we know that’s what needs to be done? What if we neither feel contrite because of a love for God or fear of punishment, but, however, confess out of obligation? That is to say, we were catechized well and know how to follow protocol.

[quote=Shonmarie]I just went to confession Saturday - confessed my sins and said the act of contrition. I was given absolution after that. But when I went several months ago, the priest gave me absolution during the act of contrition.
[/quote]

I’ve had both happen to me - they’re both equally fine. It may just be that there’s more of a lineup at one time or whatever.

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