Is there a sufficient time of reflection before one commits a mortal sin?

I seemed to have developed a new fear and its kind of bothering me. I haven’t gone into full blown despair yet, but my scrupulous sense is definitely tingling right now (at least, thats all I hope it is).

I’ve had this fear that in times of strong temptation, I am fulfilling the 3 requirements of mortal sin in a split second. I may be against it a few seconds later, but that split second might have doomed me.

I feel like maybe there was a small flash of time (possibly even a split second) where I had full consent, full knowledge, and grave matter during the temptation.

For example, lustful thoughts. Sometimes the temptations are so strong that it actually feels like I consented. Maybe in a split-second, I actually did consent!:eek: Thus I would question my state of grace every time I get tempted.

Is this completely off the mark of what mortal sin is? Is there a sufficient time frame to consider when one has full knowledge, deliberate consent, and grave matter?

I suggest speaking to a priest if you would really like to go into detail and explain your concerns, as he has the training and experience to evaluate, but I think you are being overly scrupulous and have kept yourself from mortal sin in the situations you’ve described. Your concern is definitely admirable, I wish I had such a strong sense, but your anxiety seems excessive and as if it’s causing harmful stress.

Read it, print it out, and reflect on it.

I read it–a good article. I have to say that in my brief 4 months or so on this site, I have come across more scrupulous people than I knew existed. Silly me, I thought this type of thing died out with the Puritans in 1660.

As I have said before (and been chastised multiple times, so no one needs to do it again), I wish all these people would start worrying about things that really need worrying about. Here’s a short list:

climate change, income inequality, corruption and dishonesty in business and government, racism, ultra-nationalism, ISIS…

For example, I have always wondered how many “good” Catholics were working at Goldman Sachs when they decided to push bogus derivatives on their customers? Do they stay up at night worrying about how they nudged the world economy into near-disaster? I’m guessing they’re too busy partying on their yachts.

Mamlukman, I do understand your tangent (it’s a risk we all have to become absorbed in technicalities so that we lose sight of larger issues) but I don’t think it’s especially helpful for the original poster, who I think is sincerely anxious about this, not just engaging in high minded speculation (and even if it was, why not? It’s fine as long as it’s not all we do).

And while I do not know enough to know if this applies to Ben Sinner, there are those who are legitimately obsessive compulsive, to the point that where concern about such things as this can cause great distress.

One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. (Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

That full knowledge (full advertance is another way of putting it) and complete deliberate consent is needed to commit a mortal sin.

There can be in many temptations say an “automatic” attraction to a sin - but none the less one does not consent to it but once one realizes it one turns away and commits an act of virtue.

I disagree, I’m afraid. As I said, multiple people have taken me to task, including moderators. I’m trying to make several points. I’ll list them to make it clearer.

  1. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m simply trying to point out that there’s a forest out there, not just a little sapling. This is a problem for the original poster. I get that. But I also get that he needs to go way beyond that.

  2. Yes, a small sin is a sin. I have never denied that. But that’s not the point. The point is that it’s like a serial killer worried about whether stepping on an ant is a sin. The concern is misplaced and inappropriate because it’s out of proportion.

  3. I have yet to see (!) anyone at all commenting on or bewailing the BIG sins that are all around us–prevalent corruption in business and government, financial abuse on all levels, racism, indifference to the poor, etc. etc. NOT ONE person seems concerned with any of that. I am appalled.

What if I told you that this scrupulous person (me) is concerned that his union probably sometimes gives political contributions to politicians who are pro-choice instead of pro life. There… that does count? Is that a big enough issue for you? Are you less appalled now? :shrug:

Probably not. Read the US Council of Catholic Bishops statement on elections. Unless you are specifically voting for someone because of (not in spite of) his/her pro-choice stance, it’s perfectly fine to vote for them because of any number of other issues–death penalty, health care, war, etc. So, while I agree that pro-life is probably more admirable than pro-choice, I don’t think it’s that big a deal in terms of US elections.

What I am referring to is a more personal involvement–say you’re a nurse; do you assist with abortions? Or you’re on the board of a hospital, and the board is discussing opening a birth control/abortion clinic–what do you say, if anything? Or your niece gets pregnant, is thrown out of the house, and comes to you for help (a position a friend was put in a couple months ago); do you let her live with you? Do you support her financially?

From my own experience, I’ve all too often been put in a position where I’ve got to make a choice (not on abortion, but on other issues) that can cost me my job. Do I suck it up, do something I consider morally wrong, or do I speak up and get fired?

Here’s a specific case you may remember. In 2008 (I think), a scandal broke about Arlington National Cemetery. They were throwing headstones into a creek; burying people in the wrong graves; and worst of all, taking ashes from cremations and throwing them onto the rubbish heap. A woman contractor (not a gov. employee, and thus not protected by whistleblower laws) was ordered to help out with such activity. She not only refused, she made the activities public. She was fired a few days later and is still unemployed–7 years later. I personally would have given her a medal, a bonus, and put her in charge of fixing the mess. But that’s just me. The government simply let her rot, as an example to others not to “get involved.” That’s the sort of stuff I would worry about.

Sequence: 1 Thought occurs. 2 Reflections: recognition of sinfulness occurs. 3 Decision to resist it occurs. 4 Action taken to resist.

One should try to banish the thought when it is first noticed. Engaging the mind with other non sinful thoughts is helpful.

From Baltimore Catechism No. 3:Q. 1318. Are impure thoughts and desires always sins?
A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and we try to banish them.

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