So many people on this forum are always so ready to throw around the term “mortal sin” as if it’s the only thing which Catholicism has to offer. I, for one, am tired of fighting it: that is, I’m tired of focusing on the distinctions. The more I dwell on whether or not I’m in mortal sin, the farther away I end up from God, the more I distance myself from the healing power of the Blessed Eucharist, and the more I fall prey to desperation and despondency.
How do any of us know whether or know we’re in mortal sin or not? And how do any of us un Saginaw, MI know if someone in Boston, MA is dwelling in mortal sin? If we lack the discretion to keep from our habitual sins, do we really have the discretion to make judgment calls on ourselves or others? In opinion, you’ve got to work pretty hard to fall under the category of mortal sin.
Therefore, I am publicly pronouncing my new spirituality: I am going to love God to the best of my ability! When I fall, when I sin, when I succumb to some particular vice or nasty habit, then I will acknowledge that I have not loved God to the best of my ability, I will get back up, say an act of contrition, start over again almost immediately, and I will make it to the next available confession without pulling my hair out before then.
This is all I can do. Anything more or less continues to destroy the peace which God so desperately wants for me. Why shouldn’t I want it for myself?
Hi “Ep”. First of all… you’re right. There has been much discussion and seeming confusion about WHAT constitutes a “mortal sin”. Here is the answer… from the CCC.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) - MORTAL SIN
1857 - “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is GRAVE MATTER and which is also committed with FULL KNOWLEDGE and DELIBERATE CONSENT.”
1858 - GRAVE MATTER is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
1859 - Mortal sin requires FULL KNOWLEDGE and COMPLETE CONSENT. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of sin.
“Scruples” is another topic, which has often popped up in the Spirituality forum. Many of us, suffer from them… or have suffered from them in the past; myself, included.
Over the past few months… I have really come to believe that the enemy uses scruples… as a weapon against God’s Children; to make us believe we have sinned… when perhaps, we haven’t. To confuse us about whether a sin is mortal or venial; to cause us to judge our brothers and sisters… and on and on.
I think your “new spirituality” is a very healthy way to proceed. We are ALL sinners. We ALL make mistakes. We ALL fall down… a LOT. :sad_yes: But does that mean we are without hope?
Our hope is Jesus, Our Lord. He loves EACH of us… more than we are able to comprehend. So… when we do fall… we have the assurance (as you referred to) that we CAN repent… go to Confession… and start again. Never become discouraged! Because THAT is exactly what the enemy wants. To discourage us… and to make us believe that we can never be forgiven.
I once heard Mother Angelica say something… that made a LOT of sense to me. She said…
“It is a kind of insult to God… when we think that our sins, are greater than His Mercy”.
I had never heard it phrased in such a way… before. But it gave me a brand new way to look at my own life… my own condition, as a sinner. And I realized… it is not God’s Will… for me to be a sinner, or to be lost. Nope.
God is on OUR SIDE! :extrahappy: He WANTS us to be with Him, for all eternity. That is why He sent His Son… to become one of us.
So… when you fall… dear brothers and sisters… please know, that you can express sorrow to God, go to Confession and gain the grace to NOT sin again. It IS possible! “A saint, is someone who keeps on trying!”
God bless you. Jesus’s commandments are positive not negative. They’re about the love you speak of. Love of God, love of others.
“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” [Romans 5:5]
“A spark of pure love is more precious before God, more useful for the soul, and richer in benedictions for the Church than all other works taken together.” (St John of the Cross)
“Have you not sometimes loved the Lord? Do you not love God now? Do you not long to love God forever? Therefore, do not fear! Even conceded that you had committed all the sins of this world, Jesus repeats to you: Many sins are forgiven you because you have loved much!” (Saint P. Pio) “Walk with simplicity in the way of the Lord and do not torment your spirit. Learn to hate your faults but to hate them calmly.” (Saint Padre Pio)
Therefore, Father, “I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts…but I only want the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.” [Philippians 3:9]
No, we don’t have such discretion, or knowledge, and anyone on or off CAF who pretends to have such knowledge is not to be taken credibly.
Regarding your resolution, I agree that becoming overanxious about categories of sin is counterproductive to God’s work in us. But that i.m.o. is precisely the reason for frequent confession. We need a place to unburden those concerns, and the confessional is the proper place for that. If we’re being scrupulous, the priest will tell us. If we’re confused about the gravity (and we ask the priest – lots of people don’t ask even though they may question), we’ll learn whether it’s grave/mortal. It seems to me that’s one reason for mentioning the frequency. Something that has become an acquired bad habit can be either proximate to mortal sin or be mortal itself. We can be toying with grave/graver matter by accumulation, which is fertile territory for the devil & more serious temptations.
If I felt that there was some gray area (not grave area, he-he) which I couldn’t confidently place on one side or another, I would not deprive myself of communion, especially if there were no proximate opportunity for confession.
As a general guide (and assuming one has knowledge of what constitutes grave matter), the elements of degree and object (or setting/circumstances), combined with motive, define whether the behavior is mortal or venial. I really think that a great examination of conscience is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit for such insight – since most people are not committing crimes such as murder or grand theft, or categorical sins such as outright adultery or blasphemy, but rather most people’s sins reside in the area of behavior toward others.
The tricky part, which is why there’s “wiggle room,” is that the gravity additionally depends on one’s station in life (i.e., parents and clergy, for example, are expected to exert more self-control over their passions, toward dependent others, given their powerful roles over those dependent others). So the same behavior on their part could be mortal, while only venial for those with a different position or role.
But also, greater moral responsibility is expected of those who have been given greater knowledge and insight. So for some people, they may without scrupulosity consider a particular sin of omission to be grave rather than venial, because they realize they should have known much better, did know better. Their very awareness charges them to a higher moral standard than someone less aware. As we become sensitized to God’s requirements of us as individuals, not just generally and uniformly as Christians, we become more accurate, I think, in our instinctive reactions to our own sins & our impulse to confess them out of personal sorrow rather than out of anxiety or confusion because of what others say.
Finally, I often go back to the cardinal sins, because they are the motivators, and thus make our sins more transparent. Francis de Sales describes this in his comments on confession. Motive is an element of seriousness. If we engage in idle gossip out of insensitivity it’s one thing; if deep down we’re hoping to destroy that person’s reputation out of revenge or envy, that’s a different level — even though in both hypothetical cases the same words were spoken in gossip. Again, the more we know ourselves and the more we pray for self-knowledge, the more these differences will become apparent to us.
We are never required to confess as mortal something we don’t recognize (despite conscientious inquiry) as having a grave component to it. But once we do – if we do – that’s another matter, and no stranger from another State can accurately tell us at that point that what we experience or judge as “mortal” in ourselves is “only venial.” (Or naturally, vice-versa.)
Abortion is murder. I read statistics somewhere that 1 out of 3 women have had an abortion. I have no idea if these statistics are accurate. Most women aren’t consciously thinking of themselves as committing grave sins such as murder, since they probably do not think of a baby as a baby instead of a fetus. :shrug:
Contraception is a grave sin. Someone told me that with full knowledge and consent, it is a mortal sin. I will have to verify this. :shrug:
A great number of sexual sins are mortal as well no matter what our society may tell us.