Is self-interest a mortal sin?


I make the distinction between self-interest versus selfishness.

Selfishness, where you are willing to hurt others to make your life better versus self-interest where you do ethical things to make your life better.

Is self-interest a mortal sin?

I read writings here and there, that we’re not even supposed to think of ourselves, makes it sound like the self is evil.


We need to care for ourselves and life betterment is a part of that. It is when we become overly centered on ourselves that it is bad or when we rely too much on ourselves and think we don’t need God. Even then, I wouldn’t say it would be a mortal sin unless you detest God or something.

We need to think of ourselves since we need to see how sinful we are. We aren’t supposed to be proud but rather to acknowledge our sinfulness & unworthiness before almighty God in humility, this requires us to think of ourselves.


I believe I need God but I don’t want to suffer. I’m not a pleasure seeking hedonist, but I don’t want to suffer. With Christ saying we must suffer, I’m worried I am committing a mortal sin because I don’t want to suffer (self-interest).


You are not committing a mortal sin at all. We are naturally inclined to not desire suffering. It takes a huge amount of virture & grace to ask God for it but that is only because we know the good it does us and the Church, not because we simply like to suffer. So it’s alright to not want to suffer, what matters is that you are willing to endure, with patience, the suffering God grants you. After all, Christ asked God to be spared of the sufferings that He would be made to endure.


But we are not called to be natural, we are called to be spiritual. We are to put to death the flesh and mortify it.

So it’s alright to not want to suffer, what matters is that you are willing to endure, with patience, the suffering God grants you.

But I don’t have the patience, and wasn’t given the patience, so I’m basically screwed.


Perhaps not all people but some are called to forsake all self-interest.


Where or When did Christ say we must suffer?

Apart from this world causing us suffering.

God bless


You are the steward of your life, and are called to take care of yourself. It’s not a sin but a duty to do this. But due to our fallen nature we do this to excess and in a disordered way. For that reason suffering and self-denial are allies.

Take, for example, the evangelical counsels. A spirit of poverty helps counteract our tendency to acquire things for their own sake. A spirit of chastity helps counteract our tendency to seek physical pleasure to excess and in a disordered way. A spirit of obedience helps counteract our tendency to make our will the final end, instead of God and his glory. This doesn’t mean we can’t own anything, or have any pleasure, or make any decisions. But we have to retrain ourselves.

For more, read this bit by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.


Who does?

As for self-interest, we’re supposed to love others as ourself. See Matthew 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12:31-33, Luke 10:27-28, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:4, James 2:8.


I have been in talks with my spiritual advisor and I asked him several times point blank if God enjoys seeng us suffer. The answer was no but the road to sainthood involves suffering. Suffering is not the goal, holiness is. Everyone in their life suffers to an extent, not just Christians.

The self is not evil but it is wounded or fallen.


Yes, we are called to not act like the beasts of the earth, which is why we accept our suffering with patience. If we enjoyed suffering for its own sake, it wouldn’t really be suffering anymore. God wants us to accept the crosses He gives us for His glory, our sanctity, and the Church, not to fall in love with suffering as if it is an end in itself. Suffering serves a greater purpose and it is for that end that drives us to accept suffering.

Pray to be given patience. You are not screwed since God hasn’t forsaken you. Take, for example, Our Lord’s carriage of the cross. He fell a few times, just like how we fall, but He got up no matter how difficult it was and kept going. This can help nurture patience in your soul by taking the example of Our Lord, Who endured His suffering with perfect patience.


I recall Christ saying if we want to follow him we must carry our cross. That means we must suffer. It is required. No choice.


But God said no, to my prayer for patience. It must not be in his will.

If a prayer is not in his will the answer is no. Game over.


God wants us all to be filled with virtue, but that doesn’t mean we can ask to be patient and suddenly we have the patience of the Blessed Virgin. It takes perseverance in prayer and mortification/penance to attain virtue and grow in it. Keep praying and meditating on the patience of Our Lord & His Mother and you will find that patience will grow.


Wow. Okay. I guess that’s the end of that story!

I thought OUR suffering was ADDED to His; the Mass even says this.

It could be understood as being offered up to God.

I do believe that is different from saying that it is REQUIRED that we suffer. Although, on this earth, suffer we must.

Job 36:15 But thos who suffer, He delivers in their suffering.

Reminds me of: “In this world you will have tribulation, but rejoice for I have overcome the world.” (Jesus)

2 Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overfows.

It is speaking of suffering that is brought about by preaching the good news, but suffering is suffering and the comfort God offers can apply to it all.

In some way our suffering is added to Christ’s afflictions, as also understood by the CCC no. 1508.

Jesus did say that we are to pick up our cross daily if we desire to follow Him. A willingness to die to oneself and also to suffer for His cause? It also means, of course, that we are to bear our crosses with patience and love and to do it for Christ.

I don’t wish to belabor the point. I just think of someone reading these threads and it sounds from your comment like the requirement to suffer is necessary in some way and I do think that this comes from the evil one (suffering) and it would not be God’s desire to see us suffer.

I hope you understand what I’m trying to say and that I didn’t misunderstand you.

God bless you


So in other words, in order to have patience, I have to have patience first. Catch-22.


Yes. Of course this is true and all else you’ve said although I can’t reread all, I think it makes catholic sense.

Patience and acceptance. This is why Jesus said to pick up your cross DAILY. Every day we have to accept, every day we have to have patience with the particular situation we may find ourselves in.

It’s not easy. If we keep Jesus in our mind and think of what He did for us it does make it easier. I mean, do we really understand that Jesus left HEAVEN to come down here to teach us how to gain entry??

I used to tell my catechism kids that it was like a human becoming an ant to show them how not to go off the cliff that was killing them all.

Do it for Christ!

God bless you


There are degrees of virtue, and like physical strength, it grows if practiced over time. We can and should ask God to make us patient, but I think the normal way he grants that prayer is incrementally and with our cooperation. Usually that cooperation involves accepting hardships with humility and resignation, which we get better at with practice.


I’m bad at this, and I can’t figure out how to get better. Hardships are scary.


I’m bad at it too. You’re not alone. We’re in this together.

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