I’m having a difficult time knowing when one commits the sin of presumption, which I know is almost always grave. If someone reflects on an act, and knows it to be venially sinful, yet does it or considers doing it anyway because it’s not grave matter (not saying that the person isn’t sorry for it or won’t have repentance), is that in itself presumptuous or mortally sinful?
I would appreciate any clarity on understanding this! Thanks!
I know of no definition of presumption that states it is a mortal/grave sin. It is called a deadly, or capital, sin, which is different. Capital sins are vices that make us more disposed to commiting grave sins, but it is only the grave sins themselves which separate us from God. The sin/vice of presumption is a very concerning vice, sin it makes it hard for us to be properly sorry for our sins; thus,our grave sins are more likely to keep us separated from God.
I’ve always wondered about this too. We didn’t really talk about it very much in RCIA, but I’ve been curious since I talked to my priest about confession last week. He said that if the person is truly sorry, then he must grant them absolution, since that is the loving power of God. But what if you have a moment of weakness and know you’ll be sorry for it later?
The sin of presumption isn’t merely a vice. When one deliberately sins with the thought or understanding that they will just confess it later, that presumes upon the grace of God, and that act of presumption is itself a sin.
It’s not something that has to be at the back of a person’s mind either. Consider: a woman is thinking about getting an abortion for an unplanned, out-of-marriage pregnancy. She is struggling with the decision because people have convinced her that it would be in her best interest to do so, but grew up with the idea that abortion is wrong, being raised Catholic. If she decides to do this “because she can always just go to confession afterward and be forgiven,” then by this decisive thought, she commits the sin of presumption upon God’s mercy. It is a singular, definitive act.
It is akin to the man who lusts after a woman, and in-so-doing is guilty of adultery (per Jesus’ words). There is the idea of lust as a vice, a disordered view of people as means to sexual gratification, not so much an activity as a mental state. There is also lust as a definitive act. When the man decides deliberately to fantasize about the woman, he deliberately chooses to make of her an object of sexual gratification.
There is a distinction here between passive lust and active lust. Likewise, there is a distinction between passive presumption and active presumption. You can have the mindset (passive), but you can also make up your mind about it (active).
Yes, of course, it can be/is real sin. But, as I said, I’ve not aware of it ever being defined as a mortal sin in itself, which was the original question.
We should avoid all sin of course, but I know of no theological opinion to the effect that committing any venial sin while presuming that God will forgive later itself constitutes a mortal sin.
And if one commits mortal sin while presuming God’s forgiveness, well, it’s already mortal sin so a moot point. The problem is that presumption will make true contrition more difficult after the fact; thus, it operates as a vice rather than a separate mortal sin.