"If I don't think it's a sin, it's not really a sin"?


#1

This past week, some friends of mine (all Catholic) and I got together for some fellowship and food. We got onto the topic of mortal sin and confession. I brought up the fact that missing Mass without a good reason (weather, illness, etc.) was a mortal sin and needed to be confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. One of the women in our group almost had a cow! She asked, "What if you have non-Catholic relatives visiting? Isn’t it more loving to stay home with them than to go to Mass?" I replied that by staying home, you are loving your guests more than you are loving God. I replied that you are supposed to invite them to go to Mass with you, but go to Mass anyway if they don’t want to join you. That’s what I do when my non-Catholic family is on town. They know that I go to Mass on Sunday mornings at 8:00 am, and that they are welcome to join me. If they want to eat while I’m at Mass, that’s their decision, but it would be nice if they wait until I get home. Someone else broke into the conversation and steered it to another topic :rolleyes: but it got me thinking…

Since the conditions for a sin to be mortal are grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent, if one does not believe something to be a mortal sin, is it a mortal sin? It would seem that without the required full consciousness of the gravity of the matter (full knowledge), it would not be a mortal sin.

In my friend’s case, she has now been made aware that missing Mass without good reason is indeed a mortal sin. If she continues to skip Mass when her non-Catholic relatives come to visit, is she committing a mortal sin? Even if she still refuses to acknowledge that it is a mortal sin?

I want to add that this same friend does not believe we need to go to Confession, because we say an Act of Contrition (the Confiteor) at the beginning of each Mass and again right before Communion (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”)


#2

Could you maybe point out to your friend (in a tactful, loving way of course) the places in the catechism where it talks about these issues? If she won't believe you, perhaps she'll believe it when she sees it with her own eyes. I spent many years as a Cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what I would believe. There were some things I knew the Church taught and yet I disagreed with them. There were other things that I didn't know but may still have been accountable for because I SHOULD have known them; that is, I SHOULD have been learning my faith and forming my conscience properly. We can't judge another person's heart--only God can do that. So you can't say that your friend is committing mortal sin; however, out of love, you must point out that missing Mass and receiving communion without having confessed mortal sins are both very grave matters.


#3

[quote="Veronica97, post:2, topic:329150"]
Could you maybe point out to your friend (in a tactful, loving way of course) the places in the catechism where it talks about these issues? If she won't believe you, perhaps she'll believe it when she sees it with her own eyes. I spent many years as a Cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what I would believe. There were some things I knew the Church taught and yet I disagreed with them. There were other things that I didn't know but may still have been accountable for because I SHOULD have known them; that is, I SHOULD have been learning my faith and forming my conscience properly. We can't judge another person's heart--only God can do that. So you can't say that your friend is committing mortal sin; however, out of love, you must point out that missing Mass and receiving communion without having confessed mortal sins are both very grave matters.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: You hit that nail on the head.


#4

[quote="Veronica97, post:2, topic:329150"]
Could you maybe point out to your friend (in a tactful, loving way of course) the places in the catechism where it talks about these issues? If she won't believe you, perhaps she'll believe it when she sees it with her own eyes. I spent many years as a Cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what I would believe. There were some things I knew the Church taught and yet I disagreed with them. There were other things that I didn't know but may still have been accountable for because I SHOULD have known them; that is, I SHOULD have been learning my faith and forming my conscience properly. We can't judge another person's heart--only God can do that. So you can't say that your friend is committing mortal sin; however, out of love, you must point out that missing Mass and receiving communion without having confessed mortal sins are both very grave matters.

[/quote]

So, because if my friend does not accept that missing Mass without good reason and/or receiving Communion without having confessed mortal sins are grave matters, she's not committing mortal sin; but if I do either of these - because I acknowledge that they are both grave matters - I've committed mortal sin?

No offense, but why do I bother to learn more about my faith when "ignorance is bliss"?


#5

I am thinking this through and a couple things occur to me with this post and actually a lot of posts recently, i.e. sins against the Holy Spirit etc and other stuff posted recently.
And it seems to me that God works differently in each person’s life and that also God reveals Himself differently in each life. And there are gradations to understanding what is sin, what is not, or grasping an idea in it’s entirety. There are those that say missing Mass for any reason is cause for mortal sin. And there are those that say missing Mass because one is HAS to work to support one’s family at those times is not mortal sin. So there is a conflict. In your friend’s case, it could be along those lines. But since God gives each and everyone of us a different view of Himself, her view that hospitality and charity to her visitors comes before attending Mass may very well be where God has put her in understanding at this time and we should not be harsh in judgement. If she is using it as an EXCUSE to miss Mass, that is obviously wrong. But if she truly believes the most Christian thing is to remain with the visitors, she may be correct and we may be wrong.
Because that is where God has put her in understanding at this time. It is God who instills conscience, God that motivates the response, unless the person is deliberately avoiding the call.
JMO, feel free to correct me.


#6

Quick few questions about your understanding of the Catechism.

Does your friend love these people? Do they believe in God? Do they say grace and break bread together when they visit? 'Where two or more are gathered, there He is also"…Now yes, you do need to get to Mass when possible…take them along…and celebrate Eucharist…but with love in mind…just where do you draw the line…there are exceptions…‘healing on the Sabbath’? Was it not more loving to do this? How do we heal? How do we enjoy fellowship that was commanded? What makes it holy? and which are the greater sins? Sanctimony ranks pretty high? or false signs of piety?


#7

[quote="SHoJ, post:4, topic:329150"]
So, because if my friend does not accept that missing Mass without good reason and/or receiving Communion without having confessed mortal sins are grave matters, she's not committing mortal sin; but if I do either of these - because I acknowledge that they are both grave matters - I've committed mortal sin?

No offense, but why do I bother to learn more about my faith when "ignorance is bliss"?

[/quote]

Your friend MAY be committing mortal sin--it's just that we cannot judge others (that's what "judge not lest ye be judged" means). We can (and should) tell others when something is grave matter, but we leave the judging of another's soul to God. But ignorance is NOT bliss. There is vincible ignorance and invincible ignorance. archive.catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9907chap.asp
If I live on a remote island where no one has ever heard of Jesus, then I have invincible ignorance. I could not possibly have known that I should be attending Mass--I wouldn't even know what Mass is. On the other hand, if I am Catholic, and I don't know that missing Mass without good reason is a sin, God may very well hold me accountable for not knowing something so fundamental to the faith. This is because as a Catholic I'm supposed to be making an effort to learn my faith and form my conscience. In the case of your friend, she may have known she shouldn't miss Mass without good reason, but she may have mistakenly and good-heartedly believed that missing Mass when you have guests IS a good reason. But now that she knows it isn't a good reason--that being ill or taking care of someone who is ill are just about the only reasons for missing Mass (of course there are other rare circumstances), then God may hold her accountable. Again, we leave that to God. Nope, failure to learn our faith does NOT excuse us from sin.


#8

If a thing is not allowed, it does not mean that you have the right to do it.


#9

Relativism is the language spoken by our enemy.

All are invited to God’s Holy Supper.

It would be a greater act of love for your family to go with you to Mass.


#10

Well, it's not like Mass lasts all day long and you're ignoring your guests if you go. I would first invite them to Mass. Suggest that you could all go out to lunch afterward so it becomes a group outing. If they choose not to go, then I would go to the earliest Mass and then they could sleep in and you'd be back before they really noticed your absence.

Are the visitors ill? Do they need to be cared for medical reasons? If so, then it may be necessary to miss Mass. Otherwise, I think they'll be fine for an hour on their own.

I think it may be problematic to miss Mass on purpose when non-Catholic visitors come. In many cases, you may be the only person they know who is Catholic and if you don't take your faith seriously enough to follow Church teaching on something as simple as going to Mass on Sundays, that will make them think it's just not important, Church is irrelevant, etc.

If someone needs to work on a Sunday, then they can go to a Mass on Saturday evening instead. Or a Sunday afternoon depending on their hours. In most cases, there will be some solution to this problem, even if it means attending a parish other than the one closest to you. But if there is no way to get to Mass, then one must support one's family. Maybe record a Mass and watch it later; it is no substitute for the real thing, but at least it's something... setting time aside for God each week.

Sin is sin. Even if a person doesn't think they're sinning. A lot of times they do know deep down what they should be doing but they talk themselves out of it and make excuses. But ultimately only God knows the state of our souls. People are free to choose to live with or without God, and their choices will stay with them forever.


#11

[quote="Veronica97, post:2, topic:329150"]
I spent many years as a Cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what I would believe.

[/quote]

Was it a conscious decision to pick and choose? See that is my point. Some people simply rationalize away the sin component. And some people are MORE struck by other aspects of Catholicism. There is more to Catholicism than making sure one does not break rules and commandments. There are also the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the virtues.
I could be that while the OP and others are very set on making sure the commandments are met, that is their calling, obedience, hers may very well be charity and hospitality instead. If so, God will call everyone involved including the friend back to minding the commandments in short order. He does swing a fine pendulum.
Reminds me of the lady who brought expensive anointing oils to Our Lord and Judas bawled her out. Then Jesus bawled Judas out for his rigidity.


#12

[quote="marywarfield, post:11, topic:329150"]
Was it a conscious decision to pick and choose? See that is my point. Some people simply rationalize away the sin component. And some people are MORE struck by other aspects of Catholicism. There is more to Catholicism than making sure one does not break rules and commandments. There are also the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the virtues.
I could be that while the OP and others are very set on making sure the commandments are met, that is their calling, obedience, hers may very well be charity and hospitality instead. If so, God will call everyone involved including the friend back to minding the commandments in short order. He does swing a fine pendulum.
Reminds me of the lady who brought expensive anointing oils to Our Lord and Judas bawled her out. Then Jesus bawled Judas out for his rigidity.

[/quote]

Well, I would say I decided that I didn't agree with certain Church teachings. In other words, I knew better than the Pope. I also let my Protestant background influence me. I would say to myself, "I know So-and-So (Protestant) is a good Christian and they can't be going to Hell for such and such. So I won't go either." But we are judged by our light. And the light that the Catholic Church gives makes our culpability as Catholics greater. In the same way, priests and religious will be judged more strictly than lay persons.


#13

[quote="SHoJ, post:4, topic:329150"]
So, because if my friend does not accept that missing Mass without good reason and/or receiving Communion without having confessed mortal sins are grave matters, she's not committing mortal sin; but if I do either of these - because I acknowledge that they are both grave matters - I've committed mortal sin?

No offense, but why do I bother to learn more about my faith when "ignorance is bliss"?

[/quote]

Whether your friend "accepts" the teaching or not is irrelevant. If she knows the Church teaching that missing Mass is grave matter, she meets the condition for full knowledge.

As for "ignorance is bliss", not knowing about the sinfulness of something may mean you are not culpable of that particular sin, but if you* should have known and *could *have known but *choose not to learn, that's probably a sin too. You would have just traded culpability for one sin for another.


#14

I fully agree.


#15

This whole thread makes my head spin. I think black and white thinkers are drawn to a legalistic Catholicism. Others, struggle to make sense oftherulesthatseem togooverboard.howcansomeonebeguilty of something theydidntknowis wrong?


#16

[quote="AnneTeresa, post:15, topic:329150"]
This whole thread makes my head spin. I think black and white thinkers are drawn to a legalistic Catholicism. Others, struggle to make sense oftherulesthatseem togooverboard.howcansomeonebeguilty of something theydidntknowis wrong?

[/quote]

It's just part of being an adult in the Church. There are some things that really are black and white. When it comes to Sunday obligation, it's a precept of the Church. It's a clear obligation. There are plenty of other things in Church teaching that leave room for prudential judgement to keep all of those "living in the grey" people happy. :D


#17

[quote="marywarfield, post:5, topic:329150"]
I am thinking this through and a couple things occur to me with this post and actually a lot of posts recently, i.e. sins against the Holy Spirit etc and other stuff posted recently.
And it seems to me that God works differently in each person's life and that also God reveals Himself differently in each life. And there are gradations to understanding what is sin, what is not, or grasping an idea in it's entirety. There are those that say missing Mass for any reason is cause for mortal sin. And there are those that say missing Mass because one is HAS to work to support one's family at those times is not mortal sin. So there is a conflict. In your friend's case, it could be along those lines. But since God gives each and everyone of us a different view of Himself, her view that hospitality and charity to her visitors comes before attending Mass may very well be where God has put her in understanding at this time and we should not be harsh in judgement. If she is using it as an EXCUSE to miss Mass, that is obviously wrong. But if she truly believes the most Christian thing is to remain with the visitors, she may be correct and we may be wrong.
Because that is where God has put her in understanding at this time. It is God who instills conscience, God that motivates the response, unless the person is deliberately avoiding the call.
JMO, feel free to correct me.

[/quote]

I agree with you on this.

I think some people are naturally very "by the book" individuals, and in their minds, the only reason another person would not absolutely do everything by the book and to the letter would be because they were lazy, not serious about their faith, looking for excuses, etc. But this is not always the case. Only God can see someone's heart and knows and understands their thought process and motivations.


#18

Half true, half false. YOur friend IS committing mortal sin. Period. Not “may be” The bible is quite clear, Catholics are to judge those within the Church, but leave the judging to God on people OUTSIDE the church.

1 Corinthians 5: 12
But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

You cannot remove the wicked man from your midst if you did not judge. You cannot perform you obligation to FRATERNAL CORRECTION if you have not judged the person to be in error and putting his immortal soul at risk. As a practicing devout Catholic, you are obliged to make judicious judgement: You are expected to discern what is good from what is evil. You can’t do that if you do not judge.

John 7:24
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

In their self-serving defense, people who do wrong readily quote the bible not to judge them, thus:

Mathew 7:1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you"

The problem is that people who have committed wrong and do not want to be judged only quote the first statement OUT OF CONTEXT to justify not to judged. This is the greatest deception from Satan who wants us not to judge against evil. But if you read the entire passage, it clearly means not to be frivolous, whimsical, random, or personal in your measure to judge. Use the measure the Church uses to judge. Because in the end, we will all be judged by the same measure, whether we judge or not. The scriptural quote above continues, thus…

Mathew 7:3-5
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

This admonishment simply says that before you judge, be sure you are blameless of the same sins against which you are judging. Otherwise, you would be a hypocrite. It does not mean you should not judge. That is why a circuit or supreme court magistrate can rightly judge against a criminal who has raped a young girl because he is not guilty of the same offense. Similarly, a person who judges his brother to have committed mortal sin of heresy, for instance, is right to judge if he himself is not a heretic. Of course, we are all sinners in varying degrees of seriousness. The entire passage must be taken in its total context. Note the difference between a “speck” in your brother’s eye you are judging, and the “plank” in your own eye. It only means that people mired in grievous sins (plank) would be better off not judging people with minor offenses (speck). So if you have to judge, be sure you are more righteous than the one you are judging.

You said:
“But now that she knows it isn’t a good reason–that being ill or taking care of someone who is ill are just about the only reasons for missing Mass (of course there are other rare circumstances), then God may hold her accountable.”

No, God WILL hold her accountable. While we do not judge people based on what’s in their heart, as only God’s know that, we JUDGE based on their ACTIONS or INACTIONS. Hence, when you know someone is taking artificial contraceptives, you can judge based on what the Church teaches. When you see someone missing mass for no good reason, it is correct to say that person is committing mortal sin. In fact, the mere commission of a mortal sin condemns the sinner automatically. You, as a concerned Catholic, must point it out.

While it is true that invincible ignorance can excuse you from committing formal mortal sins, you commit the material sin nonetheless. In today’s world, with information so easily accessible from the internet and your parish, invincible ignorance is a rarity. There is no longer any excuse for your ignorance. As a Catholic, you are required to learn your faith.


#19

To those who think Catholics should not judge, and don’t believe what I just posted, read this: catholicbible101.com/judgenot.htm


#20

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