How serious is this?

Let me begin by saying that I am a convert of about 3 and half years. I usually go to Mass about twice a week and to adoration once a week. I took my conversion and my Catholic faith very seriously. However, recently I did something that is now bothering me.

I recently had lunch with a former coworker, a retired gentleman who is a Southern Baptist. At lunch he wanted to say grace, which was fine. When he was done with the prayer, I made the sign of the cross in sort of a quiet and discreet way which he didn’t seem to notice. My rationale was that I just didn’t want to spend our lunch together defending the Church and its doctrine to a man who I know is very set in his ways. Now I am beginning to feel as if I have committed a very serious sin, almost a form of denying the faith. :frowning: I am somewhat scrupulous, but I would like to ask: Was this mortal sin? Thanks in advance.

Go talk to your priest about your scrupulosity.

I think it would depend on your intent. If you’re intentionally trying to hide your faith because you’re ashamed or something, possibly a sin (though still I doubt mortal but I am no expert on that).

I sometimes do the same thing without really giving it much thought, then after the fact feel bad about it.

I personally do not see this as a serious sin based on what you have said. I cannot peer into your heart to know everything about you, but It could be a sign of scrupulosity. I would discuss this with a priest.

Also, I suggest praying to St. Michael the Archangel, as he is a defender against the wickedness and snares of the devil. This includes avoiding the sins we struggle with.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

A number of thoughts occurred to me on this. Your having committed a mortal sin by executing a “too small” sign of the cross not being one of them.

First: If you are scrupulous, no matter what you did you’d be worried that you:

did wrong, possibly mortally, and that hence

God has for the moment at least, has struck your name from the book of life

and placed it on the roll call for the goat line. :bigyikes:

BIG ol’ sign of the cross? Why, you’d be a hypocrite like those who prayed on street corners “to be seen” that Jesus criticized. Why didn’t you THEN do a small, humble sign of the cross as a gentle witness to your friend?

NO sign of the cross? Are you then ashamed of the Gospel? The Lord will be ashamed of you on Judgement Day!

And on it would go. No matter what pitch Satan threw he could strike you out almost.

What’s more, this rather presumes a God who is all justice and no mercy; not the kind of God who’d take GREAT pains to redeem you by dying on a cross for you. Or the kind who considers you (and he) His beloved, precious, little lambs - and who is full of joy at joining you for lunch together “in His name …” and your mutually inviting Him into your midst! :extrahappy::yup:

Second: Scrupulosity is not the worst of sins, nor even necessarily a sin at all (but for the distraction it causes) in its particulars. The very GOOD thing about it is it shows your conscience is not dead – but QUITE acute! Your desire is NOT to sin. If FEAR isn’t the predominant reason for your being in that state … but pleasing God is … you could be quite a holy person, and are being tempted to THIS to keep you from being more fruitful.

Here’s what I mean. You did what you did - then worried about it for the rest of lunchtime.
Your friend sees you so worried and concludes that you have not found peace in the Catholic faith (which would be an understandable, if false, impression – and one the devil would surely encourage him to deduce). As much as he’d encourage your own feelings of doom versus feelings of confidence and joy – which would usually be a better witness.

And the devil never lets up anyway. We must have armor to resist his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:10 - 17). If he couldn’t get you to scruple about the sign of the cross,
he’d tempt you to scruple about having anything to do with a Southern Baptist!

Had the apostles so scrupled they would never have become fishers of men but would have remained huddled in the upper room, avoiding less holy people.

To answer your thread question “How serious is this?”: You would know better than I since you have more particulars on the details - but generally, it looks to be much less
serious than anything I confessed on my last trip to the confessional.

Rather than dwell on this negatively, perhaps consider yourself insightfully blessed, and ask yourself – how shall I do better if that same thing occurs again?

That “how shall I do better?” is something we can always do - and does not lead us to a
spiritual or practical paralysis in our “walk”.

And per:

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

test positively as well as negatively. Could it not be that performing the small, humble sign of the cross was led by the Holy Spirit? Especially since He knows both you and your friend and you were gathered in His name and He is in your midst?

That said: if it is STILL bothering you … go ahead and confess it (as either the sin you think you might have committed … and you could put it that way, I have done such … or as over-scrupulosity that is causing damage to your naturalness and witness). The important thing there is to “put the guilt of it behind you” … while retaining the benefit of the lessons).

It could also be that this friend, knowing about your “conversion” is curious about it. Perhaps resolve to show him your confident, peaceful side next time (presuming you have one :wink: ) for instance.

And thank you for this witness. In “answering” it (as is often the case) a little light shines on my own path. And I see some things I need to do in a similar vein. :sad_yes:

Thanks everyone for your kind help. As I said, I take my faith very seriously and would never be ashamed of being Catholic. That said, I try very hard to follow all that the Church teaches, and being a convert sometimes wonder if I have committed mortal sin. The idea of dying in unconfessed mortal sin terrifies me! So i will try to work on the scrupulosity. God bless everyone.

You cannot unknowingly commit mortal sin. In order to be culpable of it you must know it is a mortal sin, you must commit it anyway, and you must doing it willingly–not under coercion. None of these criteria were met in the situation you cited.

I agree with others who suggested you talk to your priest about scrupulosity. :slight_smile:

Merely wanting to avoid being grilled all through a meal with a non-Catholic does not in any way rise to the level of a mortal sin–or any sin at all. As a new convert you are probably not prepared to discuss such issues with others and it would be an exercise in futility for both of you. So, it was wise of you not to provoke a discussion under the circumstances.

If you want to talk to non-Catholics about the faith, you should pray for guidance, learn all you can and be a friend to the other person in truth, not just so you can “convert” him. Show him your faith by being the best Catholic you can be and loving your friend. If he has questions, be ready to answer him as best you can. If you don’t have an answer just say so. Don’t be afraid, you haven’t committed sin of any kind in this situation.

Who knows, you may have preached more to him by example than by having a theological discussion.


There is no teaching in the CC that says you must make the sign of the cross.

We do make the sign of the cross several times during the Mass, but I see people not making it even then. Are they committing sins? Absolutely not.

Noone has to make the sign of the cross anywhere, anytime, anyplace. This is totally up to you and what you want to do. If you feel not doing it would avoid a bad confrontation or even a little misunderstanding or even making another person uncomfortable, good for you, and I would say, its best you don’t do it.

Just a thought.

“Only love can make us free, grant us peace.” (hymn)

Yes, it’s a matter of what the Church calls “prudential judgment” not of sin. :yup:

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