How should I react to mortal sin?


I fall into mortal sin often. My salvation is always in jeopardy. I most likely will die in mortal sin.
It doesn’t seem to get better. How should I react to mortal sin when I commit it? I heard that repetition in sin happens because of a poor reaction to sin. So, how should I react to sin?


We don’t “naturally” have the appropriate reaction to sin, be it mortal or venial. You should pray that God give you a deeper understanding of the nature of sin and of your own personal sin. Ask to be shown how it affects you, those you love, the world around you. And pray for the desire to commit to a virtuous life.


For one, please try not to think like this even if right now it seems to be the case.

As for how to react to sin, you should reflect on what sin is and what it does. Sin offends God, who is deserving of all your love and praise. It also hurts others, both those close to you and others outside of the immediate vicinity. And of course it hurts you, damaging your relationship with God and your resolve to live virtuously. Acting charitably has the opposite effect which is why it is so important.

If I recall correctly from another thread you seem to be scrupulous to some extent; it would be advisable for you to consult a regular confessor who can guide you on these matters. An unhealthy worry will not help you in this fight.


This is really an important question that you need to put to your confessor, Joe. State it exactly as you are doing to us. This is right up his alley. And we are only the peanut gallery.


Really good point. Oftentimes, I feel that the devil wants to get us to focus on what we should STOP doing, whereas God wants to point the way to things that we could be doing to love the people in our lives and in our world. Perfection is not simply a lack of sin.


We have a “two sides of the same coin” instance where sin and virtue are concerned. By God’s grace we fight and struggle against sin, while by His grace we also cultivate virtue. We can’t have one without the other, yet it is important we not see the Spiritual life as simply “not doing X” and “doing Y”. The Enemy enjoys getting us bogged down by our failings and shortcomings, which are many.


I think many of us have felt that way before Joe. It is more difficult when you are young. You just have to keep trying. Ask God to give you the graces to never give up. That… is important. If you are obsessing on the near occasions, take a break and rent a really long movie, get your mind into a new groove.

The enemy wants you to despair. He wants to to feel like giving up and giving in. You have to get creative sometimes. Do something spontaneous to get yourself out of whatever rut you may be in. In the middle of it all, go to Eucharistic adoration. Read up on that, you have no idea how powerful it can be for you, the gifts God bestows for the time you spend with him.

It sounds like you have thought enough about consequences for a while [which needs to be done from time to time] but think about the cure for a while.

Each time the pictures start running in your head, quietly call out to Mary, and just say “Help me, clear out my head, please!” It works. Trust me.


That means it is a free choice to do what you know to be seriously wrong. To be free is means it is voluntary not involuntary. Have you read the Catechism:

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.261 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.262 Words are not enough, deeds are required.263 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?264 What use has he made of the talents he has received?265 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.266 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.267

1733 The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin."28

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

1736 Every act directly willed is imputable to its author: …


Let’s say you fall into mortal sin regularly, and you always make a regular effort to go to confession and you make an effort in some way to reduce the likelihood of it occurring again.

@Vico has also raised the notion of having to do these sins completely voluntarily.

God does see your efforts, no one here can say for sure what would happen. God is merciful, we make mistakes, we sin but as long as we keep trying I truely have faith that His mercy prevails.


You repent, go to confession and pray for the grace to resist sin. You do all you can to grow in grace.


I’ll echo everyone else in saying you should speak to your priest in confession about this. I do have one small piece of advice though. This may just be me because everyone has a unique path to holiness, but I have found prayer focused on increasing love to be extremely helpful in reducing sin of any kind. I used to say a lot of prayers directed at just whatever sin I was dealing with at the time, but once I focused on prayers about love, I made great strides in holiness. I came to love God so much, I just couldn’t bear to commit any serious sins anymore. I regularly ask God prayers like “help to me recognize and feel your love for me” and “help me to love you more than my sin.” You might try this over a few months. It might make a difference. You should still see your priest though.

Very true. I was just reading about this over the weekend. Being a saint requires not only avoiding all sin but also replacing the sin with good works. Anyone dealing with mortal sins will be aided greatly by filling up their free time with service. This will also have the effect of building your love for God and others, which is the ultimate way to become holy. It truly is “more blessed to give than receive”. By filling our lives with holy works, our souls become a wellspring of God’s love both preventing us from sin and spilling out onto all souls around us.


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