If I did something I didn't know to be a mortal sin at the time, and later found out that it was, did I commit a mortal sin?

If I did something I didn’t know to be a mortal sin at the time, and later found out that it was, did I commit a mortal sin?
I read something somewhere that you are supposed to know if something is a mortal sin in your heart, and that the “full knowledge” requirement is only for specific circumstances when you aren’t fully aware that you’re committing mortal sin. Is this true?

Say that I did a grave sin without knowing that it was even a sin, but later that day, read a Catholic article saying that it was a grave sin. Did I commit mortal sin in this situation? Would I still be able to receive Holy Communion?

Please help clear up my confusion! Thanks!

Mortal sin is not retroactive. On the assumption that your ignorance AT THE TIME was invincible, i.e. not your own fault, your sin is then venial or nonexistent, depending on the level of knowledge you did have.

Whether or not you had sufficient knowledge by virtue of the natural law, we cannot say. Only you can answer that, perhaps with your confessor’s help.

If you honestly did not know that your act was a mortal sin at the time you did it, then you would not be held accountable for it. If you received communion, still unaware that your act was a mortal sin, you should still be in the clear.

However, once you found out that the act was indeed a mortal sin, you probably should still go to confession, explain the situation, and have the priest grant you absolution if necessary.

My :twocents:

Since you didn’t know it was a mortal sin, you didn’t commit a mortal sin.

If you do something and feel that it is wrong and may be gravely sinful, but do it anyway, then it doesn’t matter if you knew it to be a mortal sin since your conscience told you it was and yet you went against it. That doesn’t seem to be your situation, though.

In order for a sin to be mortal, there are three requirements:

  1. Grave matter
  2. Free consent of the will
  3. Full knowledge (also called sufficient reflection in the Baltimore Catchism) or knowledge that the action offends God.

It is not necessary to know that the Church labels a particular act or omission “mortal” or “grave.” Some things are discernible through reason alone. For example, anyone may commit mortal sin if they murder someone freely and deliberately, even if they’ve never heard the word “mortal” before.

However, when you say you did not know it was “even a sin” that suggests to me that you did not realize the act offended God. In other words, you did not have sufficient reflection about the sin. Because it was grave matter, it was still sinful, but in your case it would have been venial.

The catechism says:

[quote=]1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law,** or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.**
[/quote]

The guidelines for reception of Holy Communion by Catholics are these:

[quote=]As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently.** In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour.** A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
[/quote]

When they say “grave sin” my understanding is that the bishops mean “mortal sin” (not venial sins of a grave matter). This must be the case because communion actually remits venial sin, though I believe you are still obligated to confess all grave matter at your next confession.

God bless.

Yes, grave matters/sins are mortal sins. If we know that we are guilty of mortal sin, we can’t approach the Communion rail without committing a grave sin of sacrilege should we receive Holy Communion in that state. We can have serious venial sins, but not mortal sins.

All mortal sins must be confessed to a priest prior to the reception of Holy Communion. This requirement is dispensed with if there is a grave need to receive Communion (near death, for example), it is impossible to confess to a priest, you are in the state of grace through an act of perfect contrition, and you resolve to confess at the nearest opportunity. All these conditions must be fulfilled prior to Holy Communion.

Since you didn’t know that the act/omission was of grave matter, or even that it was a sin, than you did not sin.

Or rather, the OP did sin, but the sin was venial, not mortal. Anytime grave matter (abortion, missing Mass, contraception, stealing, murder, etc) is committed, it is a sin.

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