Mortal Sin and Hell Question

If a person dies in the state of mortal sin, do they automatically go to Hell?
I thought as long as the person’s a genuinely good person they won’t go to Hell. They’ll still go to Purgatory, but they won’t go to Hell. But on another thread people are saying that if you die in mortal sin you automatically go to Hell, no matter what. So are the billions of people committing billions of mortal sins every day going to go to Hell when they die? What if a Catholic is in mortal sin, and they die on the way to Confession? What about all my friends having premarital sex? They’re perfectly good people except for this sin. Are they going to Hell? Please provide quotes from the Bible and/or Catechism.

Can’t help with the CCC right now.

However, our LORD said that, “unless ye repent, ye shall likewise perish.”

Now, in the case of someone who dies without confession, having committed an objectively mortal sin, we cannot know their spiritual state. Mortal sin requires grave matter (the action itself) and full consent of the will; not even the sinner themself can be sure of the second.

And even at the moment of death, there can be repentance; although we should never count on it, given a whole lifetime, to be able to take a vanishing instant to repent. Still, it is possible.

We just don’t know.

Your second question is somewhat different. Someone who continues to engage in fornication (non-marital sex) is obviously unrepentant, and while they remain so, place themselves in danger of Hell. Still, only our LORD can say who will go there.


Mortal sin constitutes a deliberate-and persistent-turning away from God, from love for Him and neighbor.

**1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.**

“Dying in mortal sin” and “not being a good person” are two ways of saying the same thing. Mortal sin constitutes a rejection of God and the interior calling towards his grace. Mortal sin infallibly means hell, which is why it’s given the name “mortal sin” in the first place. A wound can’t be mortal and yet not kill you. Replace the word “mortal” with “fatal” if you prefer.

We have no infallible way of knowing who is or isn’t in mortal sin.

Yes, correct.

Nope. That is not what Christ teach us in the Gospel.

If we die in unrepentant mortal sin, yes we shall go to Hell. The sacrament of reconciliation is important. If you are repentant and die on the way to confession, the it isn’t unrepentant mortal sin is it?

This is not accurate AT ALL. Christ himself tells us in the Gospel that people will cry out Lord, Lord and he will say he never knew them. Lots of people who think they are “good people” are in fact not good at all-- Christ tells us only the Father is good, meaning God is the arbiter of what is good and what is evil. We are to do much more than simply be a version of what we consider “good”.

If the person dies while on the way to confession, they have confession of desire and their sins are forgiven. I learned that in Catholic school.

Be careful here. A common misunderstanding of Purgatory is that it is somehow a place of “second chance” for people who didn’t get it right the first go-around. In actuality, Purgatory is for the remission of temporal punishment due for previously forgiven mortal sins. Refer to CCC 1030-1032 and 1472 for a detailed explanation of this.

So are the billions of people committing billions of mortal sins every day going to go to Hell when they die?

Objectively speaking, if these people die in a state of unrepented mortal sin, then they will go to Hell. There is so much biblical evidence for the existence of Hell and the fact that people do go there. To name a few, see Hebrews 9:27, John 8:21 and especially Matthew 7:13-14.

Our Lady of Fatima was very clear in demonstrating the reality of Hell when she showed the three children a vision of Hell and the numerous souls who go there. Read “Fatima for Today” by Fr. Andrew Apostoli for a thorough understanding of the Fatima apparitions.

What really opened my eyes to this reality was a sermon given by Saint Leonard of Port Maurice in the 18th Century titled “The Little Number of Those Who are Saved.” Using Sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, Saint Leonard lays out a thorough account of how most people (because of their own life’s choices) will go to Hell. It is a very interesting read.

God Bless You.

Well, if the number of those who actually end up in Heaven is very low, personally, that tells me that Satan/ evil, will have won, when God has told us many times, this would NOT happen, thru out the bible, its consistent that God will triumph over Satan/evil in the end.

However, if only a few make it to heaven, that shows Satan had successfully influenced MANY MANY more souls than God was able to thru the word of the gospel. Now, whether this falls on the church, maybe God will say that not enough was done for all these people, why were soooo many ‘won over’ by the dark side?

Plus, if most people end up damned, how is God ‘winning’, this just means, a great majority of HIS creations willfully chose his adversary…that is loosing in my opinion.

The scriptures say, “many are called but few are chosen” and the road to hell is broad but the road to heaven is narrow…

Is the conflict between God & satan a contest of numbers ? All we know, God will toss satan & his angels into the burning lake of fire along with those who followed them. :eek:

I am confident that school educated you well enough to find the source for that.

confession of desire? Never heard that before…

Try looking up perfect contrition and the requirements for that…

I just find it very hard to believe that the Loving GOD would allow so many of HIS children to be lost to Hell. And I agree with someone who stated above, how is HE winning if the majority of HIS children never experience eternal life?

I didn’t read the sermon somebody posted a link to (I just don’t need to obsess over doomsday talk like that, but I’m sure others will make use of the link), so I don’t know exactly how many we’re talking about. But I am being led to believe that it’s the majority of humanity, to which I say that just doesn’t make sense. Especially when there’s a heck of a lot of sinners out there behaving far better than a lot of Christians.

I’m not saying I don’t believe anybody ever goes to Hell, that’s silly. But I really can’t see our Loving GOD condemning so many to Hell, especially when I know so many good non-Christians and sinners.

That’s why we have Purgatory.

My personal belief (but remember that I am just a sinner too) is that almost all will go to Purgatory. Eternal Hell just seems like overkill for such flimsy beings as ourselves. And far more will find repentance than we imagine.

But at the same time, only a few will avoid having sins to purge off. Great saints and great sinners are both somewhat rare.


Pope Pius X said that “Holy Communion is the safest, shortest way to Heaven.”

That being said, if you have no mortal sin and receive Holy Communion, then he would be correct. But how many people are in mortal sin and receive Holy Communion?

The bigger thing for me is that our confession time is lousy to be quite honest. An hour on Saturdays when only 3-4 people come the entire hour? Or 30 mins before Mass on Sunday and the priest never shows. The rest of the times are by appointment. BTW I’m in a huge parish, one big enough to have a school on the Church grounds.

My thoughts exactly. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

I’ve wondered that before, too. And I’m sure that these people aren’t going to Communion thinking, “Ha, I’m in mortal sin but I’m still gonna get Communion.” It’s probably more like they really don’t know they’re in mortal sin (but wait, if they don’t know it’s a mortal sin then isn’t it NOT a mortal sin:confused:?), or they don’t realize they’re not supposed to receive Communion. Either way, I think the church leaders could do a better job of teaching us about mortal sin and one’s proper behavior when in mortal sin.

For a moment there I thought maybe you went to my church, but then I saw you live in Tennessee. My parish is pretty horrible with Confession, too. I mean, Confession’s really a life-saver, literally, when you think about it, yet my parish only offers it at 6 PM on Wednesdays and at like 9 AM on Saturdays (and who’s gonna get up on a Saturday morning to go tell a priest about all the bad things they’ve done?). And I know not many people go to Confession during most parts of the year, at least where I am, but that doesn’t mean the church shouldn’t offer it more. Maybe more people would go if there were more options. At least a Friday evening time would be nice.

So factoring in the “full consent of the will” component, is it theoretically (and I emphasize theoretically) possible that the libertine has a better chance of salvation than the God-believing fornicator because the libertine may not be aware he is committing a sin, or aware of the seriousness of his sin?

I read this article and every day the fear of God and the fear of Hell fill my soul. I’ve been told I’m scrupulous and focus way too much on God’s justice and not enough on His mercy. While in many aspects, from a general respect, I agree with the premise of the sermon, that many people are going to go to Hell. But lest us not be the judge. Determining who will or how many will is up to God, not me or you or the priest.

In his example of Noah, that only 8 were saved, are we to know that all who drowned were not worthy of Heaven, or simply that they were not worthy of living and their temporal punishment was to die a horrible death through drowning? Sure, we can take this story several ways. Objectively that it is meant that only 8 out of millions will be saved and this is what the “percentages” are, or we can take it to mean that at that time, everyone but 8 were worthy of being saved and going to Heaven, or we can take it to mean that 8 lived and could have perished later and the others who drowned, some were saved and some were damned.

He goes on to condemn 99 out of 100 priests! How is he not judging these people? Now don’t get me wrong, I still agree that we need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking we are saved, that we are not sinning when we really are. Trust me I get it. But are we supposed to live on top of a pillar for 40 years? Yes, that saint was completely showing the world he gave up the world, but how do we do God’s work in helping the poor if we none of us have a job to help feed the poor?

It seems like he is speaking more to those people who call themselves “Christians” but do nothing of the like. Go to church maybe on Christmas, but then still use contraception, sleep around, lust, lie, cheat, etc. Those people are the Pharisees, the ones who call out “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”, Really, it’s the people who trusted in themselves rather than God.

It seems very much like St. Leonard is telling us that lest we live a perfect life, only we are to blame. Forget mortal vs venial sin.

St. Leonard also posits that because the gate is narrow that most will not enter. “Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” I understand this to mean that all can enter, or none can enter, but what is important is the road to how you enter. There is but one road. Jesus.

He also quotes “Many are called, but few are chosen.” So, here I’m a bit confused, because I was taught that God calls everyone, He never stops loving us, but maybe it is that He stops calling those who outright reject Him, but calls most who still have some hope? Even still, St. Leonard goes to say that “all” are not called, meaning God doesn’t call some of His children. This is quite disturbing to me that God Almighty would create some a ensure they choose Hell, because He decidedly worked against them or predestined them to Hell. That is a tenet of Calvinism.

He also talks about a demon that thanks a pastor for damning souls to hell, but why would any servant of God trust what a demon would say? This to me would only serve to cast doubt into his soul…

Again, all of this I guess is meant to remind us that we cannot serve two (or more) gods, and we should stop fooling ourselves and truly repent and live a life in Christ. But of course, as humans, we are born with the inclination to sin which is why Jesus died on the cross for us, so that we may partake in his free gift of salvation to us. That we may go to confession when we sin (and be cleansed of mortal sin and venial sin), that we may take the Eucharist and be cleansed of venial sins.

I’m with you PunisherThunder… I try to go to confession once a week, if not, then every other week, as I’ve chosen, with the grace of God, to eliminate all mortal sins (sinning) from my life. Do I sin?! You bet. Could I do better, you betcha. I’m on the road now, and God knows, and God willing, I will eventually find every piece of my heart and soul loving God.

But I see only the same 5 or 6 people going to confession… and at most, there is maybe 10-12 who visit the confessional during that 45 minute period. Quite sad. I still struggle with the same sins, so I keep going to confession, keep praying, keep trying to choose Jesus and choose good by not doing those sins (gossip, swearing, complaining, not praying enough), but none of those I believe are mortal, yet, they are still sins, and honestly, I can say I’m not the only one (or 12 people) sinning at my church…

I should apologize now, since I’m commenting line by line on this sermon by St. Leonard.

He says, “But you will say: Can penance not profitably repair the loss of innocence? That is true, I admit. But I also know that penance is so difficult in practice, we have lost the habit so completely, and it is so badly abused by sinners, that this alone should suffice to convince you that very few are saved by that path.”

Again, my understanding (as a Catholic convert) is that as long as we are sorry for our sins, truly intend not to do them anymore (this doesn’t mean we won’t slip up again though), we confess all we are aware of, then we are forgiven?!?!

I don’t understand how he can declare he knows that all of these confessions he speaks of are invalid? Sure, there are people who don’t truly repent, but unless he were to know the hearts of these persons, he cannot judge. Is his logic sound, yes… meaning that if someone were to go to confession simply to “go” but intend to continue, then yes, that confession is invalid.

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