In media res ("into the middle of things")

Hi all,

I’m pretty new to the faith, and I’m having some trouble with some basic concepts. Thanks in advance for your help.

So, without going into unnecessary detail, I have certain sinful habits from before my conversion. I’m doing my best to conquer them (any generic advice on how to do so would be appreciated, by the way), but I sometimes stumble.

So (another habit there – I should stop starting every paragraph with “so”. :blush: )…

Anyway. A couple of times, I have caught myself in the middle of the, ahem, unspecified sin, and convinced myself that I might as well, erm, finish, since even entertaining thoughts about the sin (much less starting) is itself a mortal sin.

Obviously, the sin I am referring to is eating meat on Fridays. :stuck_out_tongue:

Finally, the simple question - is my guilt or culpability reduced in any way, if I walk away from the table without finishing the meat? If not (which I think is the case), what’s my motivation? Should I stop? Or is it irrelevent?


If you live in the United States, the conference of bishops there has lifted the requirement of abstinence from meat on Fridays except for Lent.

Fair enough. But the same question could apply to a number of other sins, so I think it still stands.

For that matter, what about something that was non-sinful when started? Like, say, the marital embrace. Nothing sinful about it, assuming it proceeds to completion, right? What if, halfway through, one party decides they want to stop (for whatever reason)? Assuming that no other sin is performed afterwards (masturbation or what have you), is it OK to just walk away and take a cold shower?

If you’re doing something wrong and you realize you’re doing something wrong, you should stop it right away. Keeping going doesn’t make it better, and may well make it worse!

But… um… if you’re doing something sinful in an intimate way with another person, you also have the responsibility to stop sinning in a tactful way. Quickly and tactfully. That other person has an immortal soul, too, and is not an object.

Similarly but obviously not the same… if you suddenly realize you’re eating meat on Ash Wednesday at somebody’s house, you don’t need to spit it out unless somebody’s pointing it out to you as “Hey, he’s Catholic and he says it’s okay to eat meat today!” Abstaining from meat is a matter of discipline, and if you mess up unintentionally, you’re allowed to shrug and sigh, or make it up later, so as not to worry the host. If it’s causing a scandal (as above), though, feel free to make a scene of spitting out meat! (Heh!)

I don’t know about the marital question so much; but if one of the partners withdraws consent, clearly the other partner has no right to keep going. In any way.

I understand that cold shower thing can have the opposite effect, though, so be careful using it as a remedy. :slight_smile:

It’s already a mortal sin, right? What can be worse?

When you realize it’s a sin you have knowledge of it and, if you continue, it will be come a mortal sin (assuming sufficient gravity). Stopping prevents it from becoming a mortal sin.

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