A couple of days ago I was reading about the Gosnell trial and came across how he murdered babies. And then, as I was reading this, a horrific thought popped in my head: “Is this bad?” I immediately stopped and said to myself, of course it’s bad what he did. I am against abortion wholeheartedly and yet this random thought entered my mind. My question to you all: is this thought a sin? if so, is it a mortal sin? Mind you that I didn’t dwell on it. Thank you for your responses.
The ideas that pop into our heads are only that–random thoughts. It’s certainly no mortal sin. Dwelling on it and approving it might be. I say might be if it leads to actions that are sinful or tactic approval of sinful behavior. In order to commit mortal sin one has to meet three criteria. It must be a mortal sin, you must commit it knowingly, and you must commit it willingly. None of those are satisfied by a mere random thought entering your head simply because you asked yourself the question: “Is this action the doctor took really a mortal sin?” That’s a question not an intrinsically evil action commited with full knowledge and consent. It’s good to have a tender conscience, but don’t let that lead you into scrupulosity.
No, don’t worry.
No, it’s just random thoughts that are part our brains and part (I believe) the devil attempting to mess with us more sensitive souls. It often accompanies scrupulosity (been there, had that, earned the t-shirt).
Best I can figure out from my own experience is that actually it happens more to those of us who care a lot and are distressed when we ponder some of the horrific stuff that goes on in this world. It’s almost like a post-traumatic flashback in a way. Since we can’t erase the bad from our minds, sometimes our minds don’t process it correctly. And since Satan doesn’t fight fair and likes to kick us when we’re down, if he can use this to make us doubt our own goodness, he will not hesitate.
If it continues to trouble you, seek counseling or spiritual direction but for now rest assured you’re not the only one to experience this. One thing that helps me is to think of all the good people out there in the opposition - in this case, the pro-life movement. Maybe say some prayers for their efforts, then you’ll be comforted by the knowledge that you’re doing something positive.
But whatever you do, don’t do it in a frantic, terrorized way or you’ll feed the obsessions. Remember that Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death. God’s got our backs, and it’s all going to be put right in the end.
St. Francis de Sales, in Introduction to the Devout Life, has a chapter on anxiety full of great wisdom, which I highly recommend: catholictreasury.info/books/devout_life/dev96.php We just turn peacefully back to Jesus when anxiety tries to torment us.
2 Timothy 1:7 - For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.
*Philippians 4:6-7 - Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. *
One final thought - sometimes it is not a bad idea to avoid the gruesome news headlines. I have to do this so my mind doesn’t get overwhelmed. It’s no sin to not read them especially if you are upset by them.
No, it is not a sin. It is just a random thought.
Thank you all so much for your responses. I really do appreciate your insight.
You’re welcome. :tiphat: If in any doubt always ask your confessor–that’s what he’s there for–to help you not condemn you.
You’re welcome! Glad it helps!
Another quick question to put your mind at rest - if you can answer “Yes” to the question “Would you prefer this random thought about (whatever it is) would not come into your mind in the first place, or at least now that it has, go away and leave you alone?” then you know it’s not something you desired. That’s how I feel about the icky random thoughts that invade my brain! I say “How stupid!” or “How gross!” :mad: or something and then I tell my brain “We aren’t going down that road so just stop it.”