Is there despair that is not grave sin. For example say an arsonist burns down your house then you are framed and go to jail. If one starts to despair in this situation would it still be mortal sin.

Let’s define our terms.

From Fr. John Hardon’s dictionary, despair is:

The sin by which a person gives up all hope of salvation or of the means necessary to reach heaven. It is therefore not mere anxiety about the future or fear that one may be lost. It is rather a deliberate yielding to the idea that human nature cannot co-operate with God’s grace, or that the despairing person is too wicked to be saved, or that God has cast one away. It is a grave crime against God’s goodness. Experience also shows that a tendency to despair can seriously injure one’s physical and mental health, and ironically can lead to all kinds of sinful indulgence. (Etym. Latin de, the opposite of + sperare, to hope: desperatio, hopelessness, despair.)

So if one “deliberately yields” to the temptation to despair, they are objectively committing a mortal sin. While it’s true that various factors can mitigate subjective guilt, I’m not sure why inherently unfair or difficult scenarios should necessarily reduce all such guilt. I would think that most people who are despairing are doing so because they’re finding their lives to be difficult.

Saints are made in the worst of times, not the best. You might read the Book of Tobit. It can be read in, let’s say, an hour. It is beautiful and speaks to this subject and many others.

I REALLY CANNOT STAND THIS CATEGORIZATION OF SINS. I am sorry if I come off rude. Jesus understands we are human and that will not always make the right decision. I think despair is wrong, of course circumstances may make one more or less culpable. Does that really matter? Try not to fall into despair. Many may disagree with me on this, who cares if something is a mortal sin? If it is bad avoid it. I do not like the word “sin” - I’d rather just say avoid wrongdoing or do not give into temptations.


Hypothetical questions tend to irritate me too.

I gave a fairly flippant answer before:
But this business of:
“Is this a sin?”
"Is that a sin?’
“What about this sin?” etc. really bothers me.

This is not what Christ is about. It is hard for me to believe that people inside and outside of the Church believe that God is up there in heaven somewhere keeping track of every little misdemeanor just waiting to catch someone in a trap in order to send them to Hell.

As a convert to the Catholic Church, I have found the Sacrament of Reconciliation a wonderful gift in discerning who I am and who Jesus wants me to be. To be honest, I have to admit that I am to lazy to seriously sin but I know that Jesus wants far more from me than that. The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps me to look honestly at myself and learn more about how to love, how to give of myself and have compassion.

God does not send anyone to Hell. People freely choose to go to Hell by committing a mortal sin and dying unrepentant.

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God does not send anyone to Hell. People freely choose to go to Hell by committing a mortal sin and dying unrepentant.

Then God being the ultimate ruler is only enforcing divine law.

refer paragraph 1735 of the catechism of the catholic Church. The responsibility/imputability for an action may be diminished or nullified under various circumstances vaguely presented there, which include duress. That would not be an intentional sin but, if it really was despair of God, an unfortunate outcome. Not to make matters worse, I hope, despair is really the LAST thing that a dyed-in-the-wool catholic should succomb to. Dark though the circumstances may be, fear may be unbounded, but we ought to bravely hold on to our faith and hope. No one can steal that from us.

Good Lord, yes, any malicious person could come and set our house on fire while we slept. There is hardly a way for the average person to protect themselves, unless they have a house that doesn’t burn. That’s not an abstract question.

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