Mortal Sin Exception


Ok guys I apologize in advance for my dumb question.
If ther is a person who is a good Catholic, and rarely commits Mortal sin. But on day Happens to miss Mass or maybe gets drunk and gets hit by a bus. Could God ever make an exception for this individual? ,and accept him in Heaven. Even if he did not confess or have perfect constriction


God, being God, is not bound by the sacraments nor by the precepts He has given us for our own good. Nevertheless, we do well to take Him at His word.

That being said, nothing God does is an “exception.” His will is self-defining. Furthermore, hypotheticals about mortal sin are pointless because we cannot know the state of a person’s soul nor fathom the nature of God’s mercy.



Assuming that you can read another person’s soul, it doesn’t matter if he commits one unrepented mortal sin or one hundred. Only takes one bullet to the heart or brain to kill, and mortal sin is mortal because it invariably kills the soul and destroys - totally - that soul’s relationship with God.

Ugly words, uglier reality.

We only know of two ways to obtain forgiveness for mortal sin, one being sacramental confession, the other being perfect contrition. We can’t presume there are any others, it’s more than possible there aren’t.

God, however, is merciful and loving as well as just, so we can certainly hope for a soul we suspect may be in this position.



That was great answer. :tiphat:



I have also wondered about this question as it relates to what I was taught about mortal sin, etc. I was taught that one unrepented mortal sin will condemn a person to hell, and it was not the whole life of the person that mattered. What bothers me here is something like you said, where an individual, say Carl, leads a good and decent life, performs charitable works,
he is faithful to his wife, he is a hard worker and a good provider for his family and he takes time from his day to do the best he can for his children. He goes to Mass every Sunday, goes to confession once a month at least to confess his venial sins. And he occasionally attends daily Mass, as he is able to find the time to do so. He reads the Bible and the Catechism to his children and teaches them many things which have been left out at the local school. Etc. However, one Friday, during Lent, he attends a baseball game, and during the game, a terrible feeling of hunger has come over him. He looks around and sees many people eating hot dogs and the smell of the food creates an even more serious feeling of hunger. He knows that it would be a mortal sin to take a bite of a hot dog on a Friday during Lent, but says that maybe I can get away with it just this one time, so he buys a hot dog and takes a bite of the meat on a Friday. Then on the way home, he is killed in a terrible traffic accident. He did not repent of his sin, up to this time, and so, according to Catholic teaching, he will be condemned for all eternity to eternal and horrific fires of hell, for taking one bite of a hot dog at a baseball game, where everyone else is doing the same thing. He didn;t cause any hurt or harm to anyone in his whole life. However, the second person, Joe, was a miserable creature, who beat his girlfriends and children, killing a few of them, and causing terrible pain and suffering to many people. He also attempted to rob the local bank, and in the attempt, he killed several people, wounded a few others. One of the poep;e who was killed, was the local priest, who everyone agreed, was the best parish priest ever. A real helpful and kind person, who had he misfortune of being in the bank at the time of the brutal robbery. Joe is now in prison, and has had no remorse up to now, bragging all the while about the misery he has caused. But it is now two days left to
his execution, and suddenly he wants to confess. Which he does and he confesses, saying that he is sorry because otherwise he knows he will go to hell. So his contrition is imperfect, but it allows him to have all his sins forgiven. Now the priest tells him about how he may be able to gain a plenary indulgence and have all of the temporal guilt wiped away and thereby enter heaven as soon as he dies, with no time in Purgatory. So Joe does the necessary prayers and actions to gain the plenary indulgence, and he is then executed. Now what bothers me here is that according to Catholic teaching, Joe goes directly to heaven, even though he lived an evil miserable life to the end, causing terrible pain and suffering to many people,
but Carl will go to eternal damnation in hell, since he did not repent of taking a bite of a hot dog.


Mortal sin is mortal sin. It’s deliberate and consensual self-murder of the soul. Anyone who is capable of it is simply not in a right relationship with God to begin with, doesn’t matter how many good works they’ve done (as if God cares about the heap of straw we call our good works in and of themselves anyway - he doesn’t.)

What you’re saying is as illogical as saying ‘is it fair that someone
who tries to keep their body healthy all their life should die when they shoot themselves in the head’. Of course it is! Death is what tends to happen when you choose to shoot yourself in the head, and having an otherwise healthy body is totally irrelevant.

If you’re going into the act being aware of its consequences then why consider them unfair? And it’s not mortal sin if you’re unaware that it IS mortal and what that entails.

And if by chance some people who shoot themselves in the head are saved by a passing doctor, that’s no merit of theirs, nor is it any kind of reward for them, since they certainly will suffer enough recuperating from the injury. It should simply be a lesson to them not to try it again!

Same with mortal sin. If we’re lucky enough to be able to confess, it’s a bonus. What we should be doing is steering clear of mortal sin to begin with.


That’s what bothers me about the teaching. In one case, a person leads a wonderful and good life, except that in the end, he takes a bite of a hot dog and thereby goes to eternal damnation in hell. Whereas, in the second case, the individual has hurt many people and has caused irreparable harm and damage. His life was miserably evil all along, with nothing good being done, but before his execution, he confesses and makes a plenary indulgence which allows him to enter heaven immediately.


Okay, so what’s the alternative? If God overrides a decision that’s freely chosen (and mortal sin, remember, means grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate choice), then He has plowed over free will. Without free will, one cannot make the choice to love God.

Do you think there are people in heaven who *don’t *love God? Of course not! So, for the individual to be in heaven, God would have to force that person to love Him–but wait! Forced love isn’t love at all.


You’ve just totally ignored my post and repeated your own thoughts here haven’t you :nope:

Understand this - our good works are worthless without keeping our souls in a state of grace. Remember Matthew - all those people who remind Jesus of the good they’ve done and he says ‘but you refused to do good to ONE of the least of these, and thus refused to do it to me’??

One sin can and does indeed cancel out the good work of a lifetime - that’s how serious every sin, mortal and venial, is. Mortal sin is deliberate and conscious self-murder of your soul, how can you not see that as being serious?

Think of our good works as being like money in the bank. Mortal sin is like blowing all your money on something worthless. There’s no ‘just’ taking a bite of a hot dog. That act constitutes (or can constitute) the mortal - deadly - sin of disobedience to the Church Christ instituted. And like every other mortal sin, it is a huge two-fingers-up to God and rejection of Him.

Remember Jesus said to the Apostles ‘who rejects you rejects me’? So to go against what the Church says like that is an outright rejection of Christ. And that wilful disobedience is enough to kill, as every mortal sin does, our soul stone dead.

Confession and plenary indulgences are our way of working hard to earn more money - confession isn’t an easy thing to do, and earning a plenary indulgence is absolutely not an easy thing to do (remember we have to be detached from all sin to earn one? Not easy!).

Your person in the first case is like someone who worked all their lives but then at the last minute stupidly took that money that they had saved and lost it - gambled it all away at the casino or something. They didn’t lose it by accident, they wilfully chose to waste it.

More than that, having gambled it all away they then never even attempted or wished to work to earn any more money or anything. This thoroughly deserved to lose it all because they were stupid enough to gamble with it - and too stupid to try to earn any more. They didn’t take care to ‘store up treasure in heaven’ as Jesus says.

This person who is so utterly careless with their immortal soul as to wilfully choose to murder it through mortal sin surely deserves to lose everything.

Your person in the second example is someone who didn’t save - until the last few days of their life. But during those last few days worked their backside off to earn and save as much of this heavenly treasure as they could. Of course this person deserves to keep the treasure they’ve worked so hard for.


No. I am trying to flesh out the question which was originally asked. Is it really fair to determine the whole salvation of an individual on what happens on the last day of his life. Say the person has lived for 50 years. That would be about 18,250 days. And suppose that he has led a good and worthy life for 18,249 days, but on the last day, he took a bite of a hot dog on a day of abstinence. However, the second person led a miserable and totally evil life for 18,249 days, causing real suffering and terrible pain to many people, but on the last day he repented and said the prayers required to obtain a plenary indulgence. So he goes to heaven, whereas the first person goes to hell. So your eternal salvation depends entirely and completely on one day of your life, the last day, and everything that went before could be ignored in some cases.
It doesn;t seem like that’s really the way it will be in the end. I mean, I don;t think that it is entirely reasonable to believe that your eternal salvation depends on the situation where you are on one day, the 18,250th day, the last day of your life, and it completely ignores, in some cases, what went before and what happened on each one of the 18,249 days of your life? But according to what you say, it looks like that is what will happen.


Bob, Ithink the essence of your difficulty in understanding Lily’s point is a bit of a misunderstanding.

God’s mercy has absolutely nothing to do with how good, or bad, we have lived or lives. Good works mean absoluterly nothing. What is important is our state of mind when we did those works.

But even then, if someone reject God by committing a mortal sin then they have rejected God. A person cannot commit a mortal sin accidentally; that is just not possible. It requires a conscious effort. A mortal sin is not like “taking a bit from a hot dog”. A mortal sin is always a conscious choice to reject God.

We limited humans, however, are not perfectly consistent. We can, and we all do, fall into mortal sin from time to time. We may regret it immediately, but we are still separated from God.

However, we can all limits the times that we separate ourselves from God by cultivating a closer relationship to God. And that is what we should spend those 18,239 days doing. So we do this in many ways, performing corporeal works of mercy with the attitude of love and charity, we pray, we worship, and we do our best to avoid sin.

That way, out of force of habit, we will probably have little worry about on day 18,240.

Oh, and by the way, on your 50th, birthday, you would have lived through 18,262 (or 18,263 depending on your birth year) days. I think you forgot leap years. :stuck_out_tongue:


Other people have given you the theology, so I’m just gonna pick apart your example. Is such a holy person as Carl really likely to commit a mortal sin? Particularly, is he really going to eat meat of a Friday in Lent? You’ve sung his Catholic praises so thoroughly I’m inclined to believe that our gentleman is quite proficient in the discipline of fasting. And there are so many other things at a ballpark to eat, like fries (without gravy, of course) or veggie-burgers or tofu-dogs. Second point: If Carl is so hungry that he absolutely must eat something, is he really acting with full consent?
I could add a third point about Joe, but such is the mercy of God. I presume you’re not upset about Joe.


That is why I said about 18,250 days. I mean here approximately, not exactly, which would include the case if someone died a few days before or after reaching the age of 50.
Actually, the exact number of days is not all that important to the argument. The argument would still apply for someone who had lived a little longer. For example, if someone had lived 19,127 days, we could make the same argument by making the appropriate replacement in the number of days involved. I’m sorry that I did not indicate that before.


Correct. Very unlikely, but given the hypothesis that each individual possesses free will, it would not be absolutely impossible. There is a difference between unlikely and impossible.
Concerning the situation of Joe, I think he got off a bit too easily with the granting of a plenary indulgence. Of course, everything in the end is up to Almighty God, but as poor mortals we try to make sense of what we are taught, and it seems like an individual who caused so much harm would need a bit more time for purification.


So, given the definition of a mortal sin (grave matter-fulfilled by meat on Lenten Friday, full consent, full knowledge), and given our mutual agreement that the scenario is rather unlikely, don’t you think that a mortal sin committed immediately before death constitutes a direct rejection of God? Or is this a veiled stab at the faithful’s obligatory abstention on a Lenten Friday? Substitute “eating meat” with anything else: pornography, wife-beating, priest killing, and just about anybody would agree that the person in question has truly sinned grievously.


Its worthless to speculate on something that no one knows the answer to, so why bother? No one ever knows who has been condemned to hell, right?

Concerning the situation of Joe, I think he got off a bit too easily with the granting of a plenary indulgence. Of course, everything in the end is up to Almighty God, but as poor mortals we try to make sense of what we are taught, and it seems like an individual who caused so much harm would need a bit more time for purification.

And what makes you think he wouldnt get some more time in purification?


This is a good point about speculation. It is up to God in the end.
As far as Joe not getting time in purification, I was thinking of the situation where a person gains what is called a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence wipes away and remits all of the existing temporal punishment due for the individual’s sins…


I see his point. While not valid in the theology or catechism, the natural human way of looking at things is that there are different degrees of mortal sin. For example it would seem profoundly evil for a person to murder somone knowing the victim was in a state of mortal sin (say an adulterous relationship gone bad resulting in one murdering the other) for the purpose of sending that person to hell. That sin affects at least 2 souls - victim and murder. Comparing that to the mortal sin committed by a person who consciously ate a hot dog and then out of divine justice “choked to death” on it seems to be a less severe mortal sin.

We know from scripture that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s Justice is not the same as human justice. But absent the teaching that eating meat on a day of fasting the natural human faculties of reasonableness and reason seems that we are not so much rejecting God as we are the validity of the teaching.

The justice seems to also imply the same severity in consequence for promoting false teachings (e.g. all heresies and even minor theological errors). So the general question becomes is it also a “mortal sin” to teach that such things here (e.g. eating a hot dog during a day of fast) are mortal sins when no one but God knows when He is separated from the person if that teaching is even slightly in error and causes people to lose heart and abandon God thinking that its impossible to meet His ultra high standards?

I myself am tortured over this sort of thing and find myself sitting often at home in prayer to avoid occassions of sin. But that in-itself can be sinful if it prevents us from sharing our full talents with others?

And finally, didn’t Jesus come here to bust up the complex and intricate rules and laws of the ancient Jewish Laws since it was made so complex by the Jewish Rabbis that individuals could never have a hope of being tripped up over some aspect of “the law”?

I am hoping for God’s Mercy and doing all I personally can. But I can’t even permit myself to worry that I may do something wrong since that doubt casts negatively on God’s saving grace and faith in God and itself becomes a grave sin!

I can honestly see why Islamics become martyrs since they think (erroneously) that that is the only way to guarantee entry into paradise and to save themselves from the many temptations of the world.

We Catholics can get trapped into the same pattern of despair (another mortal sin) by thinking we should fast, pray, perform penance then hope we die before we fall into another mortal sin.

Does anyone else feel trapped in our humanity?





[/LIST]Let’s look at what the bible has to say about this …

If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die. He shall die for his sin, and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered

[RIGHT]-- Ezekiel 3:20[/RIGHT]


Despair is the work of the devil, no mistake about it. That said, when any religion gets too “rules based”, then people start walking every day in fear of committing sin, rather than doing what Jesus gave us the talents and desires to do. I see this all the time with Catholics, in my family, and outside of it. It’s a shame.

Protestants, on the other hand, feel much less bound by these rules and often put us to shame by concentrating more on evangelizing, helping others, etc.

I find this more than a little ironic. I’m not saying that I think that Protestants are right, but I do think that their faith turns their vision outward, while our Catholic faith turns our vision inward. And that’s a pity.

I do know one thing. As a father, when one of my children, after loving me so much after the past so many years has a temper tantrum, I might send them to their room, but I don’t reject them. Far from it. It is my own love for my children that gives me a brief glimpse in God’s love for us. Keep your heart in the right place, do your best. God will do his part. He wouldn’t have created you if he didn’t love you.

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