Intent When Mindlessly Doing Things

In regards to sinful thoughts, one can be doing them, realize what they are doing, and then stop the thoughts by suppressing them, changing the thoughts, or ignoring them. When this happens, the person had no intent to sin, so they are either committing a venial sin, or no sin at all.

Makes sense to me. However, I am wondering how this concept applies to non thought actions. Lets say you are being rude, realize it, then stop being rude. Or perhaps one is gossiping, they realize what they have done, then stop. In either of these cases, the person wasn’t really thinking about what they were doing until God let them realize their actions, allowing them to stop.

How do actions that we do absentmindedly apply to intent? I know for certain that I often absentmindedly get grumpy when talking to my parents about college. This doesn’t seem like Grave Matter to me because nobody is getting seriously hurt. I usually try to stop when I realize what I have been doing. I’ll usually say that I’m sorry for being rude, but my parents usually don’t feel I was rude to them, so perhaps I am overly analyzing the “rudeness”. :shrug:

This can also apply to lying, detraction, and pretty much all sins I can think of. If you do something absentmindedly, it seems to me that the person was lacking intent. However, actions are different from thoughts as thoughts often pop up when we don’t want them, due to the fact that thoughts are rather difficult to control at times, especially when sleepy.

Actions are different than thoughts.

A thought can pop in my head because I see an image, hear something, all sorts of reasons.

Actions on the other hand, almost always have some intent, otherwise, you wouldn’t do it.

If you are gossiping, being rude, angry- whatever, you are making a choice to behave that way.

Does that mean it is always sinful? NO! Not every action is grave matter.
This is why you need a spiritual director- they can help you to sort all these questions!

It sounds like you’re being scrupulous and over analyzing again if your parents don’t even know what you’re apologizing for.

Are you really absent minded? Maybe you should study a bit of theology and some phycology. Can the general concept of being absentminded be an excuse for excuses. If you know your grumpy or rude - how is that being absent minded? Peace

He doesn’t admit he’s scrupulous. He will settle for “confused.”

What does one do when they have an even disposition: always bad?

Grumpiness is kind of contagious. I was always grumpy, more or less, without being aware that I was. My brother’s friend said that I may be always grumpy but I make good cookies. Oh, well.

My dog gets grumpy sometimes when the other dog gets attention.

Maybe getting grumpy is a habit?

Virtue is habitually doing good acts, vice is habitually doing evil or harmful acts. Because our vices are easily committed (without much thinking) doesn’t excuse us, no more than doing charitable acts easily (out of good habit) would lessen our reward in this life and the next.

I like cookies…with my afternoon tea! Yum!

I would say there is actually a merit in stopping the train of thought once it is recognised as sinful.

Sin necessarily involves ‘will’. If the action comes not as a result of a conscious will (such as gossiping or detracting without realising it), it cannot be a sin.

On the other hand, it can still be ‘a vice’ (which literally means “a weakness”). It is something to work against, but it won’t be counted against you on Judgment Day.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit