Explain Mortal Sin to a Freshman in High School

Please give a complete reasonable explanation of Mortal Sin that a Catholic Freshman in High School will be able to comprehend. Include meaning, nature, importance along with a list of mortal actions. It may be helpful to start with the meaning of soul.

A partial explanation can still be useful. Every effort is appreciated.

Thank you sincerely.

Your average “Catholic high school freshman” will go comatose, with glazed over eyes and slack jaw, 30 seconds into such a discussion. :wink:

Better, I think, to explain it in terms they understand: relationships.

Sin is all about the ways we harm or destroy our relationship with God. Picture it this way: imagine that your BFF sits down at the lunch table with your biggest crush and starts talking/flirting with them. Would you be mad at your friend? (You better believe it!) Would that kill your friendship? (Probably not – you’d be really mad for a while, but chances are, you’d eventually forgive your BFF (presuming they didn’t keep up that nonsense).)

But, now imagine that your BFF takes your crush out on a date – and they end up in a hotel. Would your friendship be completely dead in the water? (Yeah, probably – it’s hard to see how someone could be so uncaring about you and your feelings to have done that to you.)

But… what if they did that but they didn’t know that the person was your crush? In other words, they didn’t know that they were hurting you that bad, and weren’t intending to hurt you? Would it still hurt really, really bad? Yeah. But, would you be able (eventually) to forgive them? I hope so, since they did it without knowing or intending to stomp the life out of your friendship.

That’s what ‘mortal and venial’ sin is all about. Venial sin hurts our relationship with God; mortal sin kills it dead. Really serious sin can be mortal (if we know what we’re doing and we choose it intentionally); but serious sin that isn’t known or chosen intentionally is still just venial sin – it just hurts (rather than kills) that relationship.

The awesome thing is that God completely forgives us. Even when we don’t “deserve” to be forgiven – even when we do something totally awful – God is there to completely forgive us and renew that relationship with Him.

A mortal sin is a deliberate thought or deed contrary to love for God or love for neighbor. Since God is love, such an act is incompatible with the divine life in the soul. It breaks that relationship with God. If we refuse to turn back to God and away from that sin–ie if we choose to cling to that sin until death rather than the love of God–then we will be permanently separated or at variance with the love of God. That’s what damnation is, ultimately.

FYI, here’s how the CCC defines:
1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130

I want to get from my house to my friend’s house. My friend gave me a map explaining the way to get there.

A few things could happen.

I could follow his directions exactly, trusting that he knows what he’s talking about.

I could try to take little short cuts, thinking I might have a better idea of how to get there, or I might take scenic detours and get slowed down in both cases, knowing that I’ll have to apologize for being late. I might also not pay attention to where I’m walking and trip and fall, but still be on the right path.

I could decide to go down a road that I know will not get me to my friend’s house based on his map, or even decide I don’t want to go to his house at all. Hopefully, I will turn around, my friend will come looking for me, and I’ll get back on the right road.

Not a perfect analogy, but it’s useful. Of course, the first option is avoiding sin altogether, the second is venial sin, the third is mortal sin.

God has given us the map to Himself through the Church. Will He be where we are heading, or not? At the end of our life, we will get what we have made the point of our life: God, or not God. A mortal sin is turning down a path that, according to God, can’t lead to Him, and therefore makes something else the final purpose of your life.

The Commandments are a good place to start, as well as the seven deadly sins.

Almost all sin is “generically mortal,” meaning that, when “done right,” it is a mortal sin. Usually there is some kind of mitigating factor (like a lack of deliberation) that renders it venial.

Idle words are generically venial.

That’s a really good analogy! :thumbsup:

Sorry, not doing your homework assignment for you! :slight_smile:

As a matter of fact, your question sounds like a real teching assignment, why not give it as such, then analyze the responses as a class? Unless that’s frowned upon by those who couldn’t handle the classroom and became administrators…

I teach freshmen, albeit in a public school, and earth science, the most I can ever come up with is along the lines of "don’t do anything yow will be ashamed of (or be paying for) for the rest of your life - probably not all that helpful, but it seems to have some calming effect…

I gave my kids and grand kids “the talk” and direct answers on this subject. I wanted them to see and understand exactly the consequences to sin and in particular mortal sin. I told them Hell exists, and it is forever[FONT=&quot]. As Jesus said few go to heaven an[FONT=&quot]d most go to hell [/FONT]because of mortal sin on their soul at death

[/FONT] [FONT=Symbol]· Mt 7: 13“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy,a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
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I told them actions have always had consequences…right from the beginning

When God gave A & E the command not to do something, He didn’t just leave it at that. He also gave the consequences if they disobeyed,

Gen 3:**3 *but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’**”*

Consequences tell us the gravity of the offense if one disobeys the command.
**
Re: mortal sin,** I told them look at the consequences to various sins to see if they qualify as mortal sins. As in if one will go to hell if they die in that sin it’s a mortal sin

For space I had to reduce the passages but the links give the whole description

internal links (greek terms) are operational. I gave the greek to show the actual sin if the English translation was vague.

[LIST]
*][/FONT] fornication, covetousness……5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
*][/FONT] missing Eucharist deliberately on Sunday, no sacrifice for sin for THEM but a fiery judgement that consumes the adversaries of God.
*][/FONT] immoraliy,(πόρνος ) is selling your inheritance
*]Galatians 5: 19 - 21 sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions (διχοστασίαι ), factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, will not inherit heaven
*]Romans 16:17… dividers ( [/FONT] )don’t serve our Lord but themselves. Stay away from them. Satan will soon be crushed under your feet
*]Colossians 3: 5-6 immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, …rath of God is coming
*][/FONT] no sexually immoral (πόρνοι ), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders ( [/FONT] ), 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
*][/FONT] But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
*][/FONT]
*]2 Thes 1: 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power
[/LIST]

[FONT=&quot]I told them to look at those consequences.

NOTHING is worth going to hell over. If it happens, we have the sacrament of reconciliation, and I told them [FONT=&quot]go to confession ASAP, don’t delay.[/FONT]
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So, is this your child or grandchild? Or is this for a classroom? What is the context? A question they asked you, a CCD classroom lesson, a talk to a youth group, or something else?

Is this a Catholic child with prior formation? Or someone who is considering becoming a Catholic. It seems odd that a Catholic freshman in high school wouldn’t already know what a mortal sin is. We teach that starting in 2nd grade.

The OP has 18,000 posts. I doubt this is someone looking to get a homework assignment done.

Sarcasm is lost on some… That’s what the yellow circle with the face on it meant… It’s a snow day.

Please pardon me. I am having difficulty understanding an analogy that has God as a Freshman in High School. What did I miss?

I did catch the idea that Mortal Sin kills one’s relationship with God when He is back to being Himself. However, I have some difficulty imagining that a high school crush can explain God’s relationship with humans. I am sure I am wrong about the high school crush. Hopefully, someone can clear that up for me. Then there is this kind of problem. The analogy doesn’t appear to describe the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation.

Sarcasm is lost on some… That’s what the yellow circle with the face on it meant… It’s a snow day.

These are valid questions. However, I do not want to confine the creativity of posters to one specific context.

Considering the various attacks on the Catholic teachings regarding Mortal Sin, I would not be surprised if a Catholic freshman in high school did not know all the ramifications of Mortal Sin, including the need for sorrow. Come to think about it. I may need your lesson plans for 2nd grade.

I don’t think the analogy is meant to go that far (and upon further reflection, I would probably opt for a different offense than going off to a hotel room). But it seems useful to me is conveying the sense that sin damages our relationship to God (and others) to varying degrees. Obviously, Confession needs to be brought into it as well. But a lot of times, people can view sin as merely breaking arbitrary rules rather than damaging a relationship. That’s where I think the analogy would be helpful and resonate.

"don’t do anything you will be ashamed of (or be paying for) is a start, but it would not cover sleeping with a boyfriend or girl friend. :frowning:

Yes, the relationship with God is essential. But why is it important. What exactly is the relationship? Unfortunately, the first three chapters of Genesis have lost their basic importance in current society. How many people use Genesis 1: 26-27 as the explanation of human’s relationship with Divinity?

Your point about breaking arbitrary rules, with the emphasis on arbitrary, needs to be addressed–maybe before a conversation about Mortal Sin.

Calling the above “the talk” has me smiling. That just might be the introduction I need.

Interesting idea about the Commandments. In any case, I need to be sure I have a list with me. A physical affirmation (on a real piece of paper and not a smart phone) is good to hand to someone so that they can physically absorb it. At my age, I have become an experiential learner.

The last paragraph would establish the authority of the Catholic Church. This would be important in areas where there is the Big Tent concept. The beginning of this thread, as I understand it, involves different situations. Perhaps the Freshman could enter the conversion with examples.

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