Mortal Sin


I know the Catholic Teaching (which is explained well from Catholic Answers and from my Catechism I bought) that to die in mortal sin will condemn that person as mortal sin separates that person from God (and you can’t repent after you die).

However, it is of some concern because I am a converting Catholic.

This example is me, but I am uncomfortable to use myself in this example, so I will call the person Tom.
Tom is a converting Catholic and won’t be able to go to confession until next year (before Easter Vigil assuming his baptism is valid if I am correct). If Tom were to somehow die before receiving confession next year, and to die in mortal sin (which he has as he never received confession before) does that mean he is condemned?

Here are other two miscellaneous examples to further tell what I’m trying to talk about.
Although this is a very horrible example, what if during a war (World War I or II), there are people in a parish waiting to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. There is a sudden air raid and ends up destroying the parish and everyone in the parish die. For those with mortal sin are they condemned?

Or how about in the case of two people who commit a mortal sin. Person A at the end, says he committed a mortal sin and says he will go to confession right now (he is repentant). Person B is a staunch atheist and is offended by Person A, and murders him on the spot, preventing Person A from going to confession. Is Person A condemned?

I know there is imperfect and perfect contrition, but people on the forum seem to imply that perfect contrition is hard and difficult to do. So for intents and purposes, any of the examples only express imperfect contrition.

So my questions are

  1. in any of those two miscellaneous examples are they all condemned or we don’t know?
  2. In my specific case, what is Tom’s fate?


Do you understand the Church’s teaching on baptism of desire? It applies to catechumen, those preparing to enter the Church.


You might be suffering from a kind of scrupulosity. I went through something similar when I first learned that there was such a thing as mortal sin. I suggest you contact a Priest and ask to meet with him. He can help you get started on the journey and help you overcome these things. This form of scrupulosity is completely normal, especially for a convert. So, do not feel like a Priest will think you are weird for asking for his help. He will be delighted to help you! Trust me. Been there, done that!

Perhaps, if he is willing, he can also give you instruction so you don’t have to wait an entire year to enter the Church. In a large city like Boston, there is also probably a parish that does a summer RCIA program that would let you join the Church before Easter.

To answer your question, God is not bound by the sacraments, only we are. God knows the heart. The sacraments are the normal way we obtain God’s pardon, but God knows all your sins. He also knows your desire to enter the Church and go to confession. So, if you die before being able to go to confession, I do not believe that He would keep you out of heaven. :slight_smile: Just like I do not believe He will keep out many very good Protestants who never get to go to confession. :slight_smile: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17.


FYI, here is the Catechism on Baptism of desire:
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.


I can’t find a relevant passage in the Catechism, but one who is martyred for the faith may receive special graces. His contrition may be adequate. Though we cannot know for certain, we can hope for God’s mercy in such a case.


Unrepentant mortal sin is what will send you to the Other Place and imperfect contrition is enough to get you into purgatory, where you will most likely spend quite a long time, but will eventually make it into heaven. Understand, but don’t spend too much time stressing about mortal sin; only extremely serious subject matter and actions are mortal sin and it is not impossible to spend the rest of life avoiding it.


However, the RCIA I plan to join doesn’t start until January, so I guess I’m not formally a catechumen yet?
Also I know of baptism of desire (I was baptized, but when I join the RCIA I plan on discussing on the validity of it). However, even with baptism, I’ve read that unconfessed mortal sins lead to damnation. In my case I can’t confess as I cannot receive the sacraments until once I am being received into the church. There is perfect contrition, however I can’t say with complete certainty that I have done perfect contrition.


Unfortunately I am only in Boston during the school year. Otherwise I am at home. Also, my mother does not want me to go to a Catholic Church when I am with her. I hope to discuss and disagree with her, but I’m not sure if joining the RCIA during the summer is the best option either as my mom would probably be in disagreement. Furthermore, the RCIA I plan to join which starts in January I believe works with the school schedule. Although that is convenience, I don’t think I can join the RCIA during the summer with my mother. I would join soon as possible during the school year then (when away from my mother) however I would probably just be received into the church on Easter anyway, so I might as well just join the RCIA provided by the school in January?

I have talked to a priest before and has been comforting (which I hope to do again). And as for your second paragraph, it is extremely comforting and thank you for that. Really sheds light on God’s mercy, which I always seem to forget :slight_smile:


However in the Catechism, doesn’t it state that 1453 The contrition called “imperfect” is also a gift of God,… By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance."

So in the case of a mortal sin, which is of a grave matter, then doesn’t that mean to die with imperfect contrition will result in damnation? I ask this especially because in a different thread this seemed to be the agreement of some.


Actually a better example would be a person driving to confession and dies. This was an example in another thread. Would the same apply, that the person had every intention of going to confession at that moment and hence is covered?


I definitely understand the difficulty of your situation! My mother is a devout Evangelical. It was (and still is) difficult for her to accept that I am Catholic, but she did attend my Confirmation and First Holy Communion, which I appreciated. Summer RCIAs usually have their students come in the Church at the end of the summer right before the traditional RCIA program starts. That being said, if you aren’t in a large city, there might not be a Parish that has a summer program anyway, as was the case for me here in Alabama. Before I joined RCIA, I met with a Priest at my fiancée’s Parish every month or two to discuss how I was progressing spiritually. It was a major help for my scrupulosity. Best of luck to you on your journey. Please feel free to PM me if I can help in anyway! Finding the Church and preparing to be received into Her is an exciting time!



Baptism wipes away all sin; we die with Christ and are a new creation, a child of God. Sinning mortally *after *baptism deprives one of sanctifying grace and can lead to damnation.

If you are entering the Church and are validly baptized, then it is possible that you can receive the sacrament of penance. You should talk to a priest about this, because I don’t know the details. Seek out your answers firmly, but do not wear yourself down with worry. Hope in the Lord, foster a deep prayer life, and know that he will bring you into the fullness of the truth in due time.


God can give the grace of perfect contrition even in the last moments.

While on our side - we should not “presume” on such - we can repent with hope and head for confession. God knows that the Bus hits me there and then. He can give me the needed grace. God is not bound to the Sacraments.

Such is even true for one who has never heard of the name of Jesus -one who is thus not even a Christian but seeks truth -seeks God …seeks goodness - -God can in “ways known only to him” save him through the Logos - Jesus Christ. Give him* true life *in Christ though he has never heard his name.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd - and he sees my repentance and by heading for confession – or seeking to enter into full communion and go to confession --indeed I do so under the impulse of grace.



1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

PS for readers: Venial sins can be forgiven in many ways…imperfect contrition, prayer, acts of love, reading Sacred Scripture, prayerful use of holy water, the Our Father etc too…though frequent confession of them too is very very good -see the Catechism)


Now what can be helpful to know is that the grace of perfect contrition is also compatible with lesser motives. Just because one sees the sins ugliness or fears hell …does not mean that one therefore does not have perfect contrition. Such can co-exist with other motives.

And note well (NB) - that contrition need not involve any “feeling”. It is not about feeling in essence but our will and the grace of God. Though feeling contrite is good of course…it is better. But feelings are not under our direct command…

Let us turn to Jesus the Good Shepherd with confidence and love …let us repent and believe the Gospel. Let us seek that by his grace -true life.

Let us meet him as soon as we can in the Sacraments.

(note too that those who are baptized -those that are already Christians – that while the RCIA is often part of their path into full Communion with the Church - that it is possible to take another path. And it depending on the person that path may be shorter or longer)


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