Heavy lifting/venial sin?

A few years ago I seriously injured my neck–herniated disk. I got better over time without surgery, and I don’t have pain anymore…I get tingling in my arm once in awhile and it goes away after I go to the chiropractor. I also have sciatica, but that seems to have healed for the most part also. I try not to do heavy lifting, but today I wanted to move some firewood outside b/c I’m sick of it being on the patio. I didn’t feel like asking my son to move it, so I did myself. There was one log that was rather heavy, and I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t lift this…what if I do injury to my back or neck and have to have surgery?” But then I thought, “No, I can lift it properly, and it will likely be okay.” So I did lift it, but now my arm is tingling…like I’m out of alignment and I need an adjustment from the chiropractor. Does this sound like a venial sin or a mortal sin? I think it was probably foolish and a venial sin…but I still feel bad like I COULD have injured myself seriously, even if I thought it would probably be okay. In other words, I took a chance.

Veronica, It’ not a sin at all. That you believe it is points to scrupulocity (in conjunction with many other of your posts). PLEASE get help from your pastor.

My understanding is that Veronica does see a regular confessor, I believe once a month. It seems to be between these visits that she resorts to posting her questions here. I’ve asked her before whether her confessor knows that she does this and she hasn’t answered. My suspicion is that she does not tell him and that he would not approve of her doing so. She should rely on his advice alone, not that of internet strangers (ironically, that includes me and this current “advice”).

Veronica, what does your confessor tell you to do when you don’t know whether something is sinful?

It’s a sin of pride to be disabled and not let someone else help you. It’s also an annoyance to keep reinjuring yourself. Do you want to lose more abilities which will require more help? It’s just stupid and selfish. How long, oh Lord?

You overestimated your abilities to not get injured.

An error of judgment, but not a sin.


I was advised by a priest once to try to make a judgement myself as to whether something was sinful or not–to note my thoughts on the matter–and then to ask someone I trust to see how our thoughts compare. He said that by doing this-- over time-- I would begin to have more of an ability to judge whether something is a venial sin, mortal sin, or not sinful at all. My feeling is that this is likely a venial sin because even though I did not intend to harm myself, I COULD have harmed myself seriously. I didn’t think it was PROBABLE, but I knew it was a chance I was taking, given my past spine issues. These are my thoughts on the matter, and now I’m trying to see if my thoughts are reasonable. I don’t know that many Catholics, at least not ones I am very close to or that I trust to judge rightly. My husband is Catholic, but I don’t want to burden him with these types of questions because, as much as he loves me, it stresses him out. So I come here, and perhaps I shouldn’t. I am not panicked…I’m simply trying to practice discernment so that I hopefully can learn to make better judgements.

I’m glad you are not panicked. In many of your posts it seems you are.

But it sounds more like you don’t have a regular confessor you meet with. Is that correct? Meeting with a regular confessor is the only way to go Veronica. Relying on what some priest told you once is not sufficient for people who struggle with scrupulosity. Neither is relying on the very mixed advice one will get on the internet.

Just to be clear, I have read many of your posts and NOTHING you have ever written comes anywhere near to being a mortal sin (in my opinion). Do you find it helpful to your progress that the same few people (myself, 1ke, etc) post more or less the same advice to your questions every time you ask them? From our perspective, it seems like you are not progressing, but remain burdened with constant doubts and a consistent inebility to discern mortal sin from venial, and venial sin from no sin at all.

It was either not sinful at all or weakly venial if your reaction was grounded in pride.

Various weakly venial habits are prevalent everywhere in the world. We aren’t as observant as what we should be, we aren’t as good listeners as we should be, we don’t give a person as fair a judgement as we should, we procrastinate on something longer than we should, we needlessly worry about something, we give a reply that is unnecessarily terse, we are timid and do not speak when we should, we show an overdeveloped sense of importance and speak when we should not, we make a grumpy remark to ourselves, the list goes on and on. There is always going to be room for improvement to be found in these things when our end goal is an absolute perfection of all of these things, which will not be accomplished in this life.

I do have a regular confessor, and I was going about every 5-6 weeks; however, I went to a penitential service during Lent for convenience’s sake and confessed to a different priest, and then I hit a snag of scruples recently and went to confession about 4 times in a two week span, during which time I went to two different priests in addition to my regular confessor. (I know–bad.:frowning: ) However, even the author of Scrupulous Anonymous has written that scrupulous/ocd people make up a very small number of the Catholic population, and most priests are not trained to deal with them in seminary. mission.liguori.org/newsletters/pdf_archive/SA_0413.pdf. There are times when I feel I’m progressing (like when I was going confession every 5-6 weeks) and I will sometimes have a victory where I will decide something has not been a mortal sin without asking, but I don’t post those victories. So yeah, it does seem like overall I am not progressing…I won’t argue with that. The only thing better in this last week or so is that I’ve found an herbal supplement that does curb my anxiety significantly, thanks be to God. So when I say I’m not panicked this time, that is truthful. The odd thing is, that I should know what mortal sin is because I committed them many times before my reversion almost 3 years ago. That was when I “knew it all” and scoffed at many of the Church’s teachings. I was sitting before the Blessed Sacrament not that long ago and the thought came into my mind, “You are confused because you thought you knew it all at one time…now you must trust Me blindly.” I felt as though Jesus were speaking to me.

Thanks Veronica. It sounds like you’re doing the right things to try to make progress. As for your posts on this forum, I still wonder what your confessor thinks, or would think if he doesn’t know. If he thinks it is OK, then trust him and keep posting your questions (and no doubt we’ll keep saying no, these aren’t mortal sins). But if he thinks it’s not a good idea, you should listen to him.

We all walk in faith blindly to some degree. Let your confessor guide you. That’s his job (or vocation is a nicer word).

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