Does anyone commit a mortal sin, knowingly?

The reason I ask, is that in the past when I sinned whilst a ‘cafeteria’ catholic, the fact that some action was a mortal sin would not have occurred to me, and in some instances I would have been ‘praying’ to God assuming my action / sin was ok, whilst sinning.

What I have found through life, of my old self and others, is that once someone goes down the road of sinning, they always reason with themselves that it’s not a bad thing; for example: they’re in love with someone else and that God would understand this and possibly annul their current marriage; they undercut someone’s livelyhood - but reason it is only business dealings; they tell lies - but they’re not hurting other people and actually protecting others by not telling the truth, - and so on, the list is endless.

Is this a defence mechanism built into to all humans by God? How many people do you know would get up in the morning and say 'Right, I am going to commit the sin of adultery today as I know it’s a mortal sin and offends God" They would more likely say ’ Oh I’m so in love with ABC, i cannot help it, my wife does not understand me, God would want me to leave my wife and annul my marriage and to marry this other woman" etc…

Obviously, when I became a better catholic, not a cafeteria one, my attitude changed totally and I recognised every ‘little’ sin I had committed throughout my life and went to confession.

My query is. When I was the old me, cafe catholic, I genuinely did not think I was an immoral person, I went to mass each Sunday, lived morally, etc… So, if I had died at that point in my life, before becoming a staunch catholic, would I have been ignorant of my sins being mortal?

Coming back to my original point, does anyone ‘knowingly’ commit a mortal sin, i.e. through malice and to hurt God - I would say practically no-one, we can all make excuses for our actions that we believe at the time to be sound reasons. Hence, would such people be seen as not committing a mortal sin? Obviously, once their sins are pointed out to them and they then wish to repent, the sinner is fully aware that his/her sin was mortal, but not usually at the time of commiting it.

In answer to your question, yes people knowingly commit mortal sins.

Well, in my own experience, I didn’t. Not until I came fully back to the church and stuck to all the church’s teachings, went to confession, that I realised I had committed mortal sins. I do not think it’s as cut and dry as that. I, now, would be fully aware of committing a mortal sin, however I cannot say I was then. It is equivalent to, e.g. cafeteria catholics using contraceptives because they do not feel it is a sin - they genuinely do not, I know it is a sin after reading the church teachings thoroughly, however when you have other christian religions (protestants), not condoning it BC as a mortal sin, cafeteria catholics may not see it as one either.

if it’s a mortal sin, it has to be knowingly. The three criteria for a mortal sin are:

  1. Grave mater
  2. Full knowledge that its a grave mater
  3. Full consent (can’t be forced into it)

If someone commits a grave matter but one of the other factors isn’t present, then the sin is venial, and in some cases might not be a sin at all, but I’d check with a priest about that.

There is no such thing as an accidental mortal sin. We can never sin outside of our free will. Free will means we knowingly choose to disobey God.

What other way is there to commit a mortal sin, except knowingly?

The Law of the Lord is written upon our hearts. Look to the first reading from the 5th Sunday of Lent, Jeremiah 31:31-34.

This act of reasoning with oneself shows that they, deep down, know that what they are doing is wrong. It is an act of lying to oneself. That does not absolve from the sin nor lessen its severity.

A sin is always a sin, what can be lessened is the gravity of it.

Is that right? I was always taught that it was “full knowledge that it offends God.” So if you know it offends God and you choose to do it willingly and it is grave matter, it would be mortal, even if you don’t realize exactly how serious the sin is.

Take adultery, as an example. A man knows it’s wrong and that it offends God. He chooses to do it anyway. He tells himself it’s not that big a deal. He commits mortal sin, because adultery is objectively grave.

Here’s the wording in the catechism:

“Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.” (CCC 1859, emphasis in the original)

Since the catechism says “sinful character” I assume that means one must have full knowledge the act is grave, since that would be its character. In the example of adultery you gave above, that would seem to be a case of feigned ignorance, unless of couse the person in question was of diminished mental capacity.

I think the point is that we can’t accidentally damn ourselves. The catechism does go on to say “One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.” (CCC 1862, emphasis mine).

If the criterion is only knowing an action offends God, doesn’t all sin, including venial sin, do that?

Whilst I agree with you, I do not necessarily think that the man will be thinking of offending God, when committing his sin. He should know that adultery is wrong but would not necessarily be thinking that it offends God. I think it’s a question of societal influences on weaker catholics/christians that, for example, have pre-martial sex with a steady long term boyfriend, ‘but they are not sleeping around’, and will not see their action as a ‘sin’ or off offending God.

i think what I’m trying to say is the person, could genuninely have (in their mind) an internal relationship with God and as they’re not killing people, etc… (in their minds / conscience) they do not think they’re doing anything wrong by sleeping with their bf before marriage, and would not think they are offending God. You only know you’re offending God when you consciously want to obey all God’s commandments and follow his teachings, some still think they’re living good lives as they’re not as bad as the next person, etc… It’s only when someone comes to repentance that they fully realise their sins.

As others have said, a mortal sin cannot be considered mortal unless it is done with full knowledge and complete consent— even if it is a grave matter. However, as much as I think catechization has been abysmal for many years, I think people are way to eager to say “I didn’t know any better” than they ought to be. Sure, there may be some who do not know that missing Mass on Sunday is a grave matter. But you would be hard-pressed to find someone even nominally catechized who doesn’t know that abortion is wrong, adultery, etc. As to others who are not trained up in the ways of God, they certainly have less knowledge about grave matter, but even many of those know right from wrong. They just justify the wrong to themselves.

By the way, if you are a Catholic who just read that bit about missing Sunday Mass and you did not know it is a grave matter to miss it, you just ran out of the excuse of ignorance. NOW you know and you are obliged to look it up in the Catechism to see if I am right about it. You are obligated to attend Sunday Mass unless you have a good excuse— sleeping in, watching football, etc are not good excuses.

So a person can think something is a sin but also think that it does not offend God?

So then how does that person define “sin”?

If someone is misguided that does not change the facts.

For a sin to be a mortal sin all that needs to be present is the fact that it is of grave matter, that one posses knowledge that the act is a sin, and that they fully consent to the act.

No Catholic can truthfully say that they do not know that the Church teaches that pre-marital sex is a sin.

Whilst I agree with your last paragraph. People can stray away from the church, especially young ones, see what their friends are doing, think it’s ok and do the same. At this point they would not think they are sinning, as they’re probably not even thinking about their action as a sin in the first place. They’re doing the same as everyone else does in a secular world. In their minds they may still equate to being catholic, possibly go to church each Sunday, pray for a husband to the saints, do penance for a husband and so on, - whilst still going out with guys that they sleep with.

I’m not explaining myself very well, with this, but I know girls who were catholics, went to mass every Sunday, prayed to personal saints for a good husband but would still have had pre-martial sex, as it was seen as the ‘norm’, they would not have equated it to sin (mad and all as that sounds). Fortunately, those girls that i knew, that did the above, all ended up marrying good men and are all still married with families. Some did retreats for a good husband, other’s means of penance, etc… Which then goes back to my earlier question, these girls did not think they were committing mortal sins - why, who knows - everyone else was doing it, it was seen as the norm at the time and so on.

The Church teaches that full knowledge of ethical principles is engraved on the hearts of man, in the form of reason. Reason directs the will toward the seeking-out of goods by uncovering what “goods” are. The failure to use reason, or to use it properly, does not absolve a person of the full knowledge of the sins they’re committing.

So yes, in a sense, all people commit mortal sins knowingly – or at the very least, culpable for their not-knowing.

“Full knowledge” in the Catechism pertains to knowledge that one is doing an act that is sinful, not knowledge that the act itself is sinful (which is always present). For instance, I would be lying and thus sinning if I said “The capital of Texas is Houston,” because I know it isn’t; but if I actually think the capital of Texas is Houston, then I’m not lying and therefore not sinning, I’m just incorrect. Likewise, if I knowingly drive a friend to the hospital to get an abortion, I’m guilty of complicity in this act. But if she tells me it’s just because she wants to get a quick check-up and I drive her, I’m not guilty of complicity, because I lacked full knowledge of what I was participating in.

I have commited a mortal sin with full knowledge before. I’d tell myself, “If you do this, it is a mortal sin, the church teaches such. You can choose to walk away, but if you choose this sin and do not repent and go to confession before you die you will end up in hell, that is how serious this sin is.” And then struggle and pray to resit it and fall into it anyway. Afterwards I’d feel incrediably guilty and then say, “I need to go to confession” but since I once had the habit of this mortal sin it made me dread confession. Every time I’d say, “this is the last time I’ll ever have to confess this sin, I will be stronger next time, I’ll never do this again.” So if I fell and did it again I’d develop deep self loathing and not want to confess, ashamed to admit I had fallen again. Then it would lead to the attitude “Well, since I’m going to hell anyway, I might as well enjoy the ride” and it would be harder to resit the sin because I’d already feel condemmed and like it didn’t matter. This would cause the shame I felt to make confession even more difficult.

Thankfully the lord did send me help. He sent me a strong spritiual director that really helped me get to the bottom of why I kept falling and ways I could prevent myself from being tempted. I still struggle with sins that I know the church considers mortal but thanks to the help of my spirtual director I have made confession a priority. Frequenting it no matter how often I fall or how ashamed I feel. I know I need God to give me the grace to resist sin. So this long story short, I have knowingly commited mortals sins in the past and there is a distinct possiblity that it will happen again in the future.

What you are talking about is addressed in the catechism.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

You can not tell me that these “girls” you know are not aware of what the Church teaches in this matter.

One does not have to “think” that they are committing a mortal sin to commit one. That is not in the criteria for it.

Thanks for your response - then there may be more people in hell that I thought! Personally, before getting much stronger in my faith I would have not thought I was going to hell if I had died, as I still went to church each Sunday, visited Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje (sp) but now in retrospect I was sinning. I don’t think the girls were ‘aware’ of what the church teaches to a point, as they were still praying for husbands so if they’d been ‘aware’ of the hypocrasy of their sin, they most likely would have stopped going out with guys and remained chaste until their ‘husband’ appeared.
I’ve now talked myself back to square one, with this, I still don’t think mortally sinning is that cut and dried. I, fortunately, and through the grace of God now recognise his full teachings/ rules, but prior to that would not have thought I was in the state of mortal sin if I had died.

I am sorry, I just do not buy the “they were not aware”.

If they were Catholics they know what the Church teaches. They may deny it to themselves as a way to rationalize it, but as the catechism states, this just makes it worse.

Going out with guys is not the problem. Pre-marital sex is. Just because they “go out” with guys does not mean that they are engaging in pre-marital sex.

You also can not judge others. You can not say that something is a mortal sin for someone else.

You can not truly know what knowledge they have or if they actually voluntarily consent to committing the sin. You can only fully judge this for yourself but you must realize when you are rationalizing, that is, as the catechism states, feigning ignorance or having a hard heart.

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