So last night I was exhausted, it was 11:30 at night, and I was driving home…from Adoration actually… and I threw a bit of a tempertantrum when one of the parkways i usually take was closed …my GPS was not working so I started tossing items, frustrated, and starting whining like a 6 year old lol…then, once on the parkway, I signaled to get over for the exit I needed…the person didn’t let me in, so I honked my horn for awhile, threw my hand in the air screaming out: LET ME IN!!! They did thankfully…Sorry, other driver…
That was pretty much the end of my tempertantrum. I am trying to attend weekly Mass and I’m not sure if I should refrain from communion…When I look inside myself, I am pretty sure it was venial and I can receive our Lord…This behavior is not typical for me on the road…would would you guys think? Thx
The horn should be used to warn others of danger, or perhaps to get their attention for other good reasons. If you often have tantrums in the car, please modify your behavior because a tantrum is a distraction to you as an attentive driver, and it might provoke rage in other drivers.
I get this way from time to time, we all do. I don’t consider it a mortal sin.
I do consider it a venial sin and something for me to work on, so I mention it at my next confession, which might be 2 or 3 weeks from when it occurred.
Venial sin at the very worst. Life is irritating sometimes. The human organism developed (I don’t want to say “evolved”, though it may have done that too) to be a hunter-gatherer, not to deal with things like incessantly torn-up roads, traffic cones, Jersey barriers, and so on. It seems like, every time I travel to another city, they’ve got the roads torn up, sometimes I murmur to myself in jest, “they must have heard I was coming”.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I see a disturbing trend among faithful, orthodox Catholics to see mortal sin and/or grave matter where it’s just not there. It’s getting some people scared to death, and I fear it is going to unleash a new wave of scrupulosity, similar to what you had in the pre-Vatican II Church where many of the faithful (especially the young) stayed on constant tenterhooks in fear of sexual sin. It may be an unintended Thermidorian reaction by orthodox Catholics against the idea floated in the 1970s and 1980s that "nothing is a sin if it doesn’t ‘bother your conscience’ " — I don’t know, but I know what I see. I’m not sure how good a job the new Catechism does of drawing that bright, thick line between mortal sin and venial sin — that bright, thick line that was just vest-pocket knowledge of anyone who grew up before the 1960s — and perhaps a rewrite is called for, in those portions of the Catechism that deal with sin. I’d welcome a clear, un-nuanced encyclical on the matter.
I really do have to suspect that the exaggeration of sin may be a ploy of the evil one, to torment some, and to drive others to despair — “I can’t live up to this religion, if everything is a ‘grave’ sin, as long as I do it on purpose, want to do it, and know what I’m doing, so why even bother?”.
I see the criticism, but I think there’s a danger in the other direction too. I think too often the thinking is “we’re the Catholic Church; we need to be able to give a hyper-precise answer for everything, and lay out any complex moral or theological problem in neat rows.” There’s a danger from making things too “squishy” and nuanced, but there’s also a danger in making people think of things in a rote, mechanical way. The Church is never going to be able, and shouldn’t attempt, to give people an excel spreadsheet that perfectly breaks down the state of their souls.
I think one big problem with that kind of thinking, and one reason we had all the 70s and 80s backlash in the first place, is that the so-called “vest-pocket knowledge” emphasized certain types of sins, particularly sexual sins, while ignoring a great many other sins such as pride, hypocrisy, gossip, profiteering, and discounting/ ignoring the legitimate needs of others such as the poor, minorities, and oppressed groups in society. Pride is supposed to be the worst sin of all, and is likely pretty common, yet I rarely see anyone on here worrying about committing a mortal sin of pride, even when their posts sound like they really think a lot of themselves.
And I quite agree with you. I have to think that our God is a merciful God Who gives His children every possible benefit of the doubt in favor of their salvation. God knows our hearts, and I think we, too, know our own hearts. I am just concerned at the, quite frankly, near-heresy that is gaining ground nowadays, to the effect of “all sins against the Ten Commandments are objectively ‘grave’, therefore they are mortal sins if you have sufficient reflection and full consent of the will”. We’d all have to go to confession once a week if not oftener, and certainly before receiving communion — well, hello, Jansenism! The heresy that just won’t die…
There are sins that do not admit of parvity of matter — deliberately sought sexual pleasure outside of marital acts ordered towards procreation (I said ordered towards, which holds true even if conception is impossible due to sterility, etc.), sins of sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament, murder, and so on. But there are other sins that do admit of parvity of matter. I am not advocating those sins, I am just stating the fact that everyone used to be aware of. Stealing $5 from Bill Gates, venial sin. Stealing $5 from a homeless person, would almost have to be a mortal sin. Lying about your kid’s age to get a discounted ticket at the theater, venial sin (unless possibly it is a small family-owned theater that is losing money, and every dollar lost is a dollar that comes straight out of that family’s income, food off their table that night). Telling a lie that ruins your neighbor’s reputation, mortal sin.
Again, this used to be just vest-pocket knowledge, and I’d like to see us return to that.
It is no sin to acknowledge the good gifts that God has given you. It is a sin to exaggerate those gifts, or worse yet, to act and behave as though these gifts are your own. The abbot on retreat that time told me I was “dirt”, and I took his words to heart. Nobody is more aware of my own mediocrity than I am myself, because I’m the one who has to live with it.
I’d like to hear a sermon one day, along the lines of “you are not all that you think you are”. But one thing I have always admired about serious Catholics, is that they tend to be understated about themselves. I find that refreshing. Many Christians pretty much start from the baseline of “what I already believe”, then find a denomination that caters to this, while not requiring them to cut out big pieces of themselves that might be displeasing to Almighty God. That may be a big reason there are all of those denominations in the first place.
You also have to bear in mind, of course, that CAF is not representative of Joe and Jane Catholic. The kind of person who thinks to ask an Internet forum about whether they’ve committed mortal sin is much more likely to be inclined towards anxiety/scrupulosity.
Very true. I find that CAF breaks out into three loose groups:
the “true believing Catholics” who defend orthodoxy from either a traditionalist perspective, a post-Vatican II perspective, or both
the “seekers” who are either endeavoring to learn more, or who are looking for someone to confirm them in points of view that contradict orthodox Catholicism (“please tell me X isn’t a sin”)
the non-Catholics who, for whatever reason, want to be part of the discussion — I, for one, value them and their perspectives, and have to wonder if a “Baptist Answers” or “LDS Answers” forum would be as welcoming and as tolerant of other points of view
This! Which is fine. I think those who respond do a great job pointing out scrupulosity for what it is. And I might add that technically it’s a subclass of OCD. Some people are prone to anxiety disorders and some arent. I don’t think VatII or anything else changed how many folks have OCD - just perhaps if their OCD was expressed over morality (scruples) vs over handwashing, door-lock-checking, or something else. OCD will find something to scapegoat a persons discomfort onto. The cure isn’t moral education, it’s Exposure Response Therapy. Moral education is still a good thing though.
No, but in the Church “back in the day” (and this had nothing directly to do with the Second Vatican Council, Vatican II didn’t “dial back sin”), people were actually afraid of going to hell, looked at their unbridled, “wild” human nature compared to the moral teachings of the Church (especially where sexual sin was concerned, for that is where human nature is at its “wildest” and most atavistic), and acted and thought accordingly. Now, for many reasons, people generally don’t fear hell, don’t fear sinning, and scrupulosity is not nearly the problem it was 60 years ago. If we are to believe the polls, regular confession is somewhere in the single digits. Don’t know what the rest of the folks do.
What we see here on CAF is very self-selecting, and I don’t think the average Catholic in the pew (much less the Catholic who isn’t in the pew in the first place) worries much about personal sin at all.
I’m skeptical of this. There may have been more people with scruples in terms of raw numbers simply because more Catholics actually practiced, but I don’t think scrupulosity is based on some flawed understanding of sin. It’s not rational; it’s a mental disorder that usually overlaps with OCD.
Scrupulousity should not be regarded as a “good problem to have”. It’s a mental disorder expressed via religious belief. The percentage of people with OCD-type mental disorders generally stays the same, regardless of whether they express that religiously or through wiping down every chair they sit on for fear of germs. Either way it’s a bad thing and it doesn’t become a good thing if it’s religiously expressed.
As for fear of hell, taken too far it’s just as bad as not fearing hell. Jansenism, which permeated France and Ireland and other parts of Europe for centuries, was a heresy that in large part involved fear of hell. We need to focus more on pleasing God and less on avoiding Hell.
I’m not sure that scrupulosity is always a “mental disorder”. Most of the time, it probably is, but if a person has been living a dissolute, sinful life, or has resolved to make up their own mind about right and wrong, and just toss the Church’s teachings in the dumpster, then has a change of heart, mind, and soul — a metanoia — I can foresee that they might get to reading the Bible, get to reading the Catechism and other works, and say “oh, dear Lord, what have I done? — how many sins must I have committed? — what am I going to do?”. That is where they need to get to confession, tell the priest their predicament, and then do the only thing they can do — submit to him with blind and humble obedience. That’s what he’s there for.
Actually, I have to wonder, if X percent of the population has OCD, whether what would have been fear of sin and damnation in times when people were actually afraid of such things, gets “replaced” in some cases by secular fears and phobias. Orthorexia — “people are only supposed to eat certain foods” — comes immediately to mind. Time was, nobody ever heard of such a thing. I have known orthorexics who go to outlandish lengths to avoid “bad food”, and they are very hard to deal with. Fanatical levels of fitness and bodybuilding could be another. Excessive attention to meticulous, complicated fashion and grooming standards could be yet another.
See above. No, scrupulosity isn’t a “good problem to have”, but for someone who has had to make a 180-degree change in their moral life, a little touch of it at the outset, to bring their mind and soul into line with the Church’s teachings, could be salutary. (I said “a little touch”. I certainly wouldn’t want to see anyone made into an emotional cripple or be paralyzed over it.)
Agreed. I hope I don’t teeter on the edge of heresy by saying this, but if a Catholic is trying to live a moral, Godly life, I have to think a mortal sin would be almost impossible to commit. I am no great shakes where the devout life is concerned — I’ve got a lot of improving to do, and I don’t have all the time in the world to do it (I may not have tomorrow!) — but frequently I wake up dreaming of having resisted inducements to lie, to compromise the Faith, and so on.
We are very often what we make ourselves become — suscipe, Domine…