Are mortal sins set in stone?

I mean to ask: must it be the case that there are certain actions that must necessarily always be mortal sins? I know the three criteria, but I also hear that what counts as mortal sins are actions that separate a person from God. If certain actions ordinarily thought as mortal sins might not separate a person from God, could it be that these actions don’t constitute mortal sins? I haven’t seen any explicit official Church teachings that specify particular actions as mortal sins but I am definitely not trying to imply any thing subjectivist.

Yes, grave matter is objectively grave.

I can’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading one time that the church used to state that nocturnal emissions were mortal sins. Of course, now knowing that such events cannot be willed, such events cannot be considered sins at all.

proof please

That has never been a teaching but if you can direct us to a Church document that supports your claim then we can discuss it.

It depends what you mean by “action” and “mortal sin.”

Sometimes “mortal sin” means grave matter, as in “murder is a mortal sin.” At other times, it means “a sin involving grave matter, full consent, and full knowledge,” as in “I don’t think the murder was a mortal sin, because he was out of his mind.”

As to actions, the morality of an act depends on the object chosen, the intention, and the circumstances (cf. CCC 1750). If you are taking just the act by itself, apart from intention and circumstances, then I cannot see how it could be deemed sinful in itself, let alone mortally sinful in itself, unless the act* is* an intention.

Take killing, for example. Self-defense is not (necessarily) the same as murder, but both are killing. What makes them different are the intention and (possibly) circumstances. And yet I can be guilty of a mortal sin simply by wishing someone dead, even though I don’t kill him.

But if you ask, is murder always sinful? the answer is yes – but is it always mortal? Again, it depends on which definition of “mortal” you are going by. If you use the second definition, the only sins which could be mortal in themselves would be those fully willed with full knowledge in grave matter.

Mortal sin (grave sin. serious sin -all mean the same) can have an objective meaning such as:

Murder IS a mortal sin.

And then there is the area (call it subjective if you wish) where a person says: “I committed a mortal sin when I murdered that person”.

Can something be grave matter and yet the person not have the needed knowledge or consent to commit a grave sin? Yes. The object remains grave and one can say “such and such IS a grave sin” but in this case the person did not *commit *a grave sin.

Also a person can commit a mortal sin even though the matter is venial as long as the person thought the matter was grave and went ahead and committed the act. Thinking that the sin is of grave matter (even if its not) satisfies the first condition of grave matter.

The Baltimore Catechism said that missing Sunday mass was a mortal sin.
It was wrong. The latest Catechism does not say this.

The OP’s issue is really about “serious sin” (by which we mean material sin rather than formal sin). “Material” is more about “the external” act or, loosely speaking, the “matter” of the act.

The Church’s list of serious sin is relatively unchanging.

Very, very nicely put AO.
Few people are aware of the subtle distinction you just described so succintly:thumbsup:

The Church has always taught that you have to attend Mass. Yes, it is a mortal sin to miss Mass when you are able.

2042 The first precept ("**You shall attend Mass on Sundays **and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.

EWTN article here

Its only a mortal sin IF you firstly know that deliberately missing Mass on Sunday (or Saturday evening) is a sin of grave matter.

I should have been clearer…thank you

This is not accurate. The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday is grave matter. It was then, it is now The BC was not “wrong”. The BC teaches the same thing the CCC teaches regarding the three elements necessary for mortal sin.

The new universal Catechism is not wrong, and the new Catechism does not state we can miss mass. It reiterates that we are bound through obligation to attend Mass on Holy Days and Sundays. It defines grave matter as sins against the Ten Commandments, then it lists those under each commandment. A difference in formatting, not in content or deposit of faith.

Grave matter is objectively grave.

Yes we should use the term grave matter instead of mortal sin as they are not technically interchangeable. But we know what people mean when they ask this question.

Actually it does.

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Again the terms “mortal sin” and “grave sin” and “serious sin” mean the same …

Grave sin = Mortal sin.

(see my long post here on that subject:


No it doesn’t, it says “grave sin” not “mortal sin.”
It is merely your personal opinion that those phrases are perfectly interchangable.

As politely suggested to you previously in your above “long post”…a moral theologian would not so blithely say they are the same. There are very real distinctions to be made.

That is why the statement “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a mortal sin” is not fully defensible. One can indeed deliberately and with full knowledge miss a Sunday mass and NOT commit a mortal sin.

Remember that the Baltimore Catechism was not produced by the Magisterium but by a small US Bishops Conference.

Yes at a colloquial, lay level most would let what you say slide.
However this is a heavier-weight “Moral Theology” forum not a “Catholic Living” Forum where you cannot expect this opinion to go unchallenged.

Of course if you can explicitly back up your view by means of a professional MT source that would be worth debating/discussing.

It is not conjecture on Bookcat’s part.

Grave sin = serious sin = mortal sin.

They are exactly the same thing.

Grave and mortal are the same. Read here.

If you intentionally miss Sunday Mass without a good reason (i.e. illness, required to work, etc.), you commit mortal sin. This is really not debatable.

God Bless

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