Judging the gravity of sin


Dear friends on CAF,

in recent times, I have found it increasingly hard to examine my conscience and even to judge the occasion and gravity of sin. I do not seem to be able to remember things properly, much less where the line between Mortal and Venial Sin is in a particular instance. There’s plenty of things I should not have done, but I could not say whether they were grave matter. As a result, I refrain from receiving Communion.

It feels like my ability to discern has left me, and consequently, I’m left with constant insecurity, fear and despair, for I know I did wrong things but I have no idea whether I need to go to Confession or not. Even if I went, I could not recall the number and kind (gravity).

Can you recommend anything that might help improve one’s judgement? :shrug:


I can relate to your post as I have often been unsure as to whether certain sins were grave or just venial. I just have made it a habit to go to Confession once a week; if not every two weeks.

I leave it to the priest to advise whether they were indeed mortal or venial. Otherwise, I just continue with confessing all the sins I believe fall into the mortal sin category even if they are venial.

Frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession will help keep you remember sins committed since your last confession.

And remember, if you did not intend to commit a mortal sin, that is willingly and knowingly, then it is a venial sin if that.

Just my two cents.




Thanks. :slight_smile: While I really should make it a habit to go to Confession more often (It’s usually once a month, but it is not enough), one further problem is that I still don’t know if it’s mortal, and will thus most likely never receive Communion just to be safe.

Can you define what exactly “intend” means? I could see it to mean two things: 1. Merely intend the action regardless of being aware it is sinful, 2. Intending in the sense of “Yes, I really want to sin mortally”.


This is a “spiritual battle”, this above is imperative…“Frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession will help keep you remember sins”

Forget about venial and mortal and discerning yourself for the moment and set out to form a habit of confession. Your losing the battle …“constant insecurity, fear and despair”.

Pray and go to confession. You are emotionally and physically hurting yourself by avoiding what will heal you emotionally and has never hurt anyone physically.

Just my two cents.


I imagine many are in the same position. I think it’s healthy that you recognize that you can’t always judge yourself. The line between mortal and venial sin in many cases is very blurred, but a lot of people are good in rationalizing IMO. And what does “full” knowledge or consent mean anyway, when the catechism itself uses words like “fuller”?


Does your supposed sin meet the the elements of an actual mortal sin?


Well, I don’t know, that is the thing… :shrug:


Go to communion


The three requirements that make a sin mortal, according to the Baltimore Catechism:

“To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.”

Grievous matter: sin against any one of the 10 Commandments
Sufficient reflection: deliberately thought out and known to be mortal
Full consent of the will: done deliberately with full knowledge of the gravity of the sin




Those are indeed the rules but It seems like our American culture is saying giving into temptation is not really giving full consent. Either that or temptation clouds us enough never to have sufficient reflection.

We will be judged sooner or later by someone other than ourselves. Might as well take the responsibility now rather than when it’s too late.


Catholics should know that sometimes this does more harm than good. It is much safer to go to confession beforehand.


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