Mortal Sin - Full Knowledge of Grave Sin Or Just Full Knowledge of Sin?


#1

So I know what the catechism says regarding mortal sin, and I know that you do not commit a mortal sin if you honestly don’t know something is sinful.

My question is, what if you judge that something is not grave matter, and was thus, a venial sin, when in actuality the matter was grave.

For example, I know that lies can be of different gravity, but if I tell one anyway saying, it is just a white lie, not grave, but the lie was actually more severe, have I met the requirements for mortal sin? Or say I had been very poorly catechized and grew up thinking missing Sunday mass was not grave matter, but still a little wrong.

I ask because some people seem to think you only need to know the sin is sinful to commit mortal sin. not that the sin is grave matter? This means you can commit mortal sin without wanting to commit mortal sin? I don’t think this is what I was taught…

Also, what is feigned ignorance? I have scruples. I think many things are sins. Sometimes I’ll justify them as not sins of venial sins based on;
A) the catechism
B) what people have told me, or just
C) I think I’m being scrupulous here
Is this feigned ignorance? I really can’t see someone just pretending they are ignorant.


#2

[quote="ChildOfTheLight, post:1, topic:337369"]
So I know what the catechism says regarding mortal sin, and I know that you do not commit a mortal sin if you honestly don't know something is sinful.

My question is, what if you judge that something is not grave matter, and was thus, a venial sin, when in actuality the matter was grave.

For example, I know that lies can be of different gravity, but if I tell one anyway saying, it is just a white lie, not grave, but the lie was actually more severe, have I met the requirements for mortal sin? Or say I had been very poorly catechized and grew up thinking missing Sunday mass was not grave matter, but still a little wrong.

I ask because some people seem to think you only need to know the sin is sinful to commit mortal sin. not that the sin is grave matter? This means you can commit mortal sin without wanting to commit mortal sin? I don't think this is what I was taught...

Also, what is feigned ignorance? I have scruples. I think many things are sins. Sometimes I'll justify them as not sins of venial sins based on;
A) the catechism
B) what people have told me, or just
C) I think I'm being scrupulous here
Is this feigned ignorance? I really can't see someone just pretending they are ignorant.

[/quote]

The answer is, no, a sin cannot be mortal if the person committing it does not know it is mortal. The sin must be mortal, the person must KNOW it is MORTAL, and then they must fully consent for it to be a mortal sin.

Thus, if a person judges a sin venial when it is really mortal, it is still grave matter but only counts as venial on their soul because they did not know it was grave.

On the flip side of the coin, if a person commits a sin they think is mortal, even though it is only venial, it counts as mortal on their soul because they intended a mortal sin.


In answer to your feigned ignorance question:

If you are scrupulous, here is a good rule of thumb to keep on you at all times. If you are not sure whether a sin you committed in the past was mortal or venial, it is NOT A MORTAL SIN.

If there is a particular act you are not sure is mortal or venial, however, and you are considering doing it, don't do it until you are sure. This is called vincible ignorance, that is, when you intentionally keep yourself ignorant of the gravity of a sin in order to commit it without knowing if it is mortal or not. That in itself is a mortal sin.

However, I repeat: If you are not sure about a sin in your past, as to whether it was mortal or venial, IT WAS VENIAL simply because you are not sure.

I think I've answered your question, but please ask again if there's something I have not clarified properly.


#3

No, feigned ignorance is when you do honestly know better, but you ignore it, or rationalize it away

Like,

"I know birth control is a sin, but it can't be THAT big a deal for MY situation."

Additionally, knowing something is wrong, but not beign SURE it is, but assuming and doing it anyway.

For example, "I know downloading music is PROBably A SIN, BUT i'M GONNA DO IT ANYWAY, SO i DON'T WANNA KNOW IF IT really IS"

If you have a question, and you research it, you're not in ignorance. THe Catechism says when we are in doubt, we must strive to learn the word, and make a decision based on PRUDENCE, the competant ADVICE of OTHERS, prayer, the holy spirit, and knowledge.

Additionally, rememjber. If you are scrupulous like we are, you're never going to eliminate a doubt 100%. you just need a logical and reasonable assurance


#4

You don't need to know the words "mortal sin" for a sin to be a mortal sin. You need to know that it is seriously wrong, that is all. Then it will be a mortal sin if you meet the other conditions.

Feigned ignorance is like say you had a good CCD teacher Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith was a good teacher and you haven't really had any issues with her teaching in the past. But one issue comes up a few years down the road into adult life, and you know she taught you it was a mortal sin, but you dismiss this saying to yourself that Mrs. Smith was just a stuffy old bat, who was clueless. And then you tell yourself therefore you are okay to do whatever that thing is. This is feigned ignorance. You know perfectly well it is wrong. If you have a genuine doubt and think in this one case Mrs. Smith might have been in error, you are obligated to go to a priest first and find out the truth before you do it. That a solid person told you it was wrong and you remember clearly that they did means you have knowledge that you must respond to.


#5

The problem is that some sins are gravely sinful in and of themselves at all times - taking innocent life, adultery, etc. Others depend on the intention and/ or the circumstances. To deny, in the confessionsl, that you had committed adultery, when you had, would be a mortal sin against truth. To tell an office worker you had never committed adultery, when you had, would not be a mortal sin, because your office worker had no business asking you that.

So it is possible to commit an act which may be serious, but you just didn’t know that circumstances or intention had made it grave. It is up to us to be sufficiently alert to be able to judge various situations. It may take time, especially if you are new to the Faith. It also takes some study and thinking. We can be guilty, and not know it, if we are just too lazy to inform ourselves.

Linus2nd


#6

ChildOfTheLight,

The fact that you struggle with scruples tells me that this is a question you need to take up with your confessor.

Peace
James


#7

[quote="Pug, post:4, topic:337369"]
You don't need to know the words "mortal sin" for a sin to be a mortal sin. You need to know that it is seriously wrong, that is all. Then it will be a mortal sin if you meet the other conditions.

Feigned ignorance is like say you had a good CCD teacher Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith was a good teacher and you haven't really had any issues with her teaching in the past. But one issue comes up a few years down the road into adult life, and you know she taught you it was a mortal sin, but you dismiss this saying to yourself that Mrs. Smith was just a stuffy old bat, who was clueless. And then you tell yourself therefore you are okay to do whatever that thing is. This is feigned ignorance. You know perfectly well it is wrong. If you have a genuine doubt and think in this one case Mrs. Smith might have been in error, you are obligated to go to a priest first and find out the truth before you do it. That a solid person told you it was wrong and you remember clearly that they did means you have knowledge that you must respond to.

[/quote]

There's often no need to seek out a priest if the answer is simple enough. If Mrs Smith taught you that condoms are immoral, a quick search through the free online catechism can answer it just as well as a priest.

it really upsets me to see so many people on this site telling people to run to a priest whenever they have a question. SO many questions can be answered through the catechism, ann encyclical, an apologist. If you've used these resources and still do not have an answer, then of COURSE see a priest. But God gave you the ability to learn for a reason :) Please don't misunderstand! A knowledgerable priest is an invaluable resource, and if you are still in REAL doubt, or do not have access to such information on the internet or book, then by all means see a priest. But we are obligated to quell our doubts with solid church teaching, not necessarily with a priest. I daresay Father Garcia is busy enough without a line of people calling all day to ask about how the SUnday fast works, or if we can drink on Sunday, when it's easy to find these answers from reliable sources by yourself!


#8

Corie,
We do try to answer questions when asked, but when the OP admits that s/he suffers from scruples it is wise on our part to advise him or her to seek the counsel of a priest.

Peace
James


#9

Oh, of course! I wans’t trying to refer to the op! Just in general. I suffer from OCD myself, with some scruples, and actually, with me? the realization that I wasn’t “required” to seek a priest for questions I coudl answer on my own, hlped my scruples. (I had been told at a young age that only a priest was able to answer questions, and we should never trust ourselves, and that by not asking a priest we were, as the OP says, keeping ourselves in ignorance. That is why I felt a need to respond!) In other words, I was referring to solving individual questions, not the constant doubt of scruples, which is a different matter. Pugs words were, we are obligated to ask a priest, and I just didn’t feel that was accurate in the scenario they were speaking of


#10

Ah, yes, sorry I wrote so quickly. Of course the CCC or other source is fine, provided you know how to discern sources. It need not be a priest unless one is under the care of a spiritual director for certain problems (in which case do whatever he has told you to). I merely wished to communicate that knowledge places an obligation upon a person. One may not feign ignorance.

I, too, am irritated by the endless referral of everything to a priest, so my bad. :o


#11

Not a problem, Pug (Love the name btw; I’ve owned several cute little pugs!) At least now we’ve sorted out that small miscommunication


#12

[quote="dshix, post:2, topic:337369"]
The answer is, no, a sin cannot be mortal if the person committing it does not know it is mortal. The sin must be mortal, the person must KNOW it is MORTAL, and then they must fully consent for it to be a mortal sin.

[/quote]

I don't think this is accurate. A person need not know that a sin is mortal (or that it could be mortal) according to the definition of the Catholic Church. They only need to know that it offends God. So if it is gravely wrong and if the person freely chooses to commit the sin knowing that the sin offends God, it is mortal.


#13

[quote="nodito, post:12, topic:337369"]
I don't think this is accurate. A person need not know that a sin is mortal (or that it could be mortal) according to the definition of the Catholic Church. They only need to know that it offends God. So if it is gravely wrong and if the person freely chooses to commit the sin knowing that the sin offends God, it is mortal.

[/quote]

Actually the Catechism in para 1857 and 1858 we see that the sin must be "grave matter" and that "grave matter" is specified by the ten commandments.

That said - I agree that one need only know that a sin offends God (whom we love) to know that such a sin needs to be avoided.

In this I think there is an interaction between the three requirements that can effect the gravity of a given action and thus the gravity of a sin committed.

To me - knowledge and free choice make a sin more grave - even if the matter itself is less so.

The reason for this is because the free and deliberate nature of the action - means it is a willful rejection of God's sovereignty in our lives. It is a rejection of God's Love.

Now - that said....There are still many things that can effect culpability in these things.

The OP gives two scenarios...One being poor catechesis the other being an internal justification.
Naturally poor catechesis (ignorance) is a legitimate defense to a point.
Internal justification is a more tricky matter. The example of a "white lie" is given...and indeed what we say and how we say it can be a very grey area when it comes to balancing the needs of Agape.

Because these things can become so entangled...It is my view that we need to be less concerned about the specifics of what constitutes mortal sin and we should be more concerned about how we can more perfectly love God and neighbor.

To this end I created a thread a few days ago asking "How does one avoid mortal sin".

The answers were most interesting....Not one of them said that to avoid mortal sin one needed to know what mortal sin is...
Instead the answers said that to avoid mortal sin, keep focused on God, Love God and neighbor, avoid all sin...etc...
In short. The key in avoiding mortal sin does not lie in knowing precisely what mortal sin IS...but rather it lies in knowing and developing and growing Love in our hearts, minds and actions.

Turn your face away from the pit and toward the goal - and move toward that goal of perfect Love who is God.

Peace
James


#14

Yes do as JRKH notere there.

And have a “regular confessor” who can direct one --such is key for those with such struggles. The age old practice in the Church. Remember too that those who struggle with scruples can be in a “different boat” than others due to this difficulty.


#15

Thanks for the replies so far.

So I read that the Baltimore Catechism does say you must know the sin is gravely wrong, but this word "gravely" is omitted in the CCC.

Was the definition changed with the CCC?
Is gravity included in the "sinful character" (CCC) of the sin?

I would also ask those of you who say that all grave matter, even if gravity is unknown, can be mortal sin: What about the Baltimore catechism's definition?


#16

[quote="ChildOfTheLight, post:15, topic:337369"]
Thanks for the replies so far.

So I read that the Baltimore Catechism does say you must know the sin is gravely wrong, but this word "gravely" is omitted in the CCC.

Was the definition changed with the CCC?
Is gravity included in the "sinful character" (CCC) of the sin?

I would also ask those of you who say that all grave matter, even if gravity is unknown, can be mortal sin: What about the Baltimore catechism's definition?

[/quote]

See HERE - especially 1857 and 1858.

Peace
James


#17

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