Sorry upfront, I know so many questions revolve around mortal sinning, and now I have one. I work for a large company and we have a gym on the premises. When we pay a small monthly fee we can use the gym. It is a wonderful perk. I consider the gym membership as truly part of my work experience and my job, it’s difficult to separate the two. It is encouraged we use the gym, as many companies understand that healthier employees are better motivated and cost less financially in the medical realm.

Last week, I decided I finally wanted to start writing down my weight-lifting schedule so that I could better track my results, since I felt I was sort of stagnating in increasing weight. I went to our supply cabinet and picked out small notebook to use. I started using it all week for about 4-5 days, and then on Saturday, when I was doing a serious examination of conscience, I realized that I stole it, or at least that is what I felt like I did. I said, it wasn’t mine, it was the company’s. I added it to my list of things to confess. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to confess because ironically, our usually short line of confessors was extremely long (not necessarily a bad thing, right?!) and we had gotten their late because of some other things that happened right before we tried to leave.

Lastly, when I took the notebook, I don’t recall thinking I was stealing, because in the past, other managers have allowed things like that, but I never asked this time, plus it’s not like we are monitored for such small items, but that still doesn’t make it right, so when I examined my conscience, I felt that I realized that because this was for purely personal use, even though it is something our company promotes, I either should have asked, or used my own.

I intended to confess it of course, and I still took communion, because I felt that I had not mortally sinned. So my two questions are, have I mortally sinned because I took it without asking (stealing) and if so, do I now need to confess taking communion in the state or mortal sin? (FYI: I’m going early next Saturday to confession to make sure I am able to get in).


I should say that I clearly know that stealing is wrong, and stealing is a grave matter, and I took it knowing I was going to take it, but because I wasn’t thinking I was stealing at the time… does that make it not full consent? And or because it is a small item, make it not a grave matter?

Well the Church teaches that yes indeed any stealing is a sin, however in order to rise to the level of mortal sin she also considers what is the effective damage done to the grieving party.
In other words is taking the notepad going to bankrupt the company? IF the answer is YES then yes it was a mortal sin.
Now you said that you went to a cabinet where you took the notepad.
I assume you knew that the company stored notepads somewhere for the employees to use. Since your company probably is not going to go bankrupt because of this and to set your conscience at ease I would buy a new notepad and return it to the cupboard or give it to the responsible person for the facility, thanking him/her for the loan of the one you took.

Now for confession, since I do not believe this, to be a mortal sin, it was absolved when you attended mass and we ask GOD for forgiveness of our venial sins.
Hope this helps.

This is not serious, OP. Rest easy and don’t feel overscrupulous.

Is there (or was there once?) a church teaching that a theft was not considered serious unless it was for more than a days’ wages?


You expended three paragraphs on a $1.00 notebook. That seems rather scrupulous.

Grave matter? No.

Stealing? No.

Poor judgment, or not really thinking? Maybe.

Yes, there are gray areas at work, and this is one of them. I would agree using a notebook you bring from home is best. Buy one to replace the one from work. Problem solved.

I would not believe that is a “church teaching” It makes no logical sense.
Bill Gates can steal $10,034,495 venialy and my if my neighbor takes more than $200 it is mortal?

You may have issues with scrupulosity, in which case (actually in any case) you should talk to your confessor and spiritual director. How many people would have to say it is mortal or venial on the internet before you leaned one way or the other? That is not a good barometer of an examination of conscience.

Yes, I do suffer from it. As a Catholic convert (used to be Lutheran), I had no issues with whether something was this or that. I wasn’t brought up with all of the Catholic education to be able to know… It’s because I’m trying to do this a lot on my own, that I’ve ended up overextending into thinking *everything *is a (mortal) sin. I can’t simply ask the priest at my church to spend hours and hours to teach me everything (sorry, I’m not trying to be snide, I’m just saying it’s not something I can do). I’ve gone through the whole process of looking for a spiritual director, but that’s not a great answer either. I’ve made progress in my scrupulosity, but like any “drug” addict, relapses are possible. For weeks, I can go feeling like I’m not being scrupulous, then all of sudden it happens, and I can’t shake it.

The last thing I want is to think that, or pretend or believe, or lie to myself, that what I did wasn’t gravely sinful, and end up going south for eternity. I don’t want to fool myself into thinking “I’m okay”, I’ve done nothing wrong, so I swing hard the other way, and just end up classifying everything as sinful and mortal. Trust me, I’m doing my best to just “be” and to live a God intended, but this forum wouldn’t be so popular and successful if we all were saints and didn’t have questions…

Well actually you are comparing apples to oranges here cause the notepad is way less money. However the principle in action is “How much impact has the act wounded the grieved party”

And I will make an example, let’s say I take a $5 bill from a peddler in the street. To him that represent perhaps 5 or 10 days of sustenance the damage to him is grave.
Now if anyone steal $10M I doubt any one will or can claim the damage is “nothing” that would be disingenuous.
But $1,50 or perhaps less on the budget of a large company…Definitely NOT mortal.

Someone asked if there was a Church teaching on the amount you could steal and said they thought it might be a day’s wage. I merely pointed out that that is a silly idea because wages vary from person to person, certainly there are degrees of gravity.

I’m going to be blunt and I hope you understand that I am not angry or upset with you.

Scrupulosity is a serious business. I have seen some for whom it is like OCD and some use it as a form of bragging. I mean if someone asks a scrupulous question they can be really saying look how holy I am that this is what I have to worry about… I think yours is probably the former. But you must realize it is illogical. Logically damnation is a reality and you are worried about an office supply. So, either you have no grasp of the Catholic degrees of sin, or you are quite the saint.

Taking ones education in the faith upon one’s self is a noble thing. And thanks to the internet it is easier than ever!

I will post the CCC areas that deal with mortal and venial sin for you so you can use them to try to form your own conscience, but first just one more point.

Some come on CAF and try to ask if something is mortal sin or not. That is not CAF’s job. That is between the person and God and a priest. No one on here can tell you that your soul is clean or dirty. We are just not set up to make those judgement, God gave priests the power to loose and bind. We can indeed tell you the things required for mortal sin and we can also give an opinion that a notebook probably does not meet the “grave matter” requirement, but we cannot say, you are free from mortal sin here or not. Those who fall into the temptation to do so can indeed be saying to God, God, take this man’s sin upon myself.: Now you don’t want others to do that right?

So, the question you should be asking is not if you are in mortal sin. But rather, how should I find a priest to help me discern my own conscience?

I personally think the wise ban of offering medical advice on these boards should extend to scrupulosity as well.

I hope you can find peace.

Here is the link to the CCC about sin.

If one of the people on my staff came to me and told me he took a notebook to record his gym days, I’d say, “Awesome! I’m glad to see you are taking your workouts seriously. Keep up the good work!”

If he said that he feels bad for stealing the notebook, I’d tell him he’s wasting my time and his time, both of which are more valuable than a $1.00 notebook.

Yes, it is stealing. I know there are some people out there that think it’s ok to take company supplies for their personal use, but it’s not. It’s still stealing. However, taking this one notebook would not be a mortal sin. As others have said, just replace it if it bothers you. I wouldn’t tell anyone in the company about it because that would make them want to watch you in the future.

I appreciate all of the responses.

To Hoosier Daddy, I’ll answer some of the questions you posted in red. But first, I am prone to being scrupulous not only for the reasons I mentioned in my post, but because as a child, I was had serious OCD. I do not suffer from it now, I function normally without barely a hint of it. I’m still fighting perfectionism, but I would honestly classify myself now as someone who is basically “average” or “normal” with a tendency to want order, cleanliness and stasis. I consistently am able to let things go, but if a choice is available, I’ll take the order.

*]It’s true, I find that I do know a lot about the faith, sometimes more than those raised in the faith, but this is like a 50/50 percentage.
*]The RCIA I went through was weak, and on top of it, I was not really “ready” so I personally did not get much out of it. Thus the RCIA really did not prepare me.
*]I’m actually reading scripture now, and taking Jeff Cavin’s bible adventure. Excellent course and learning so much. I do my own research, but it’s a gamble, sometimes it helps and sometimes it hurts.
*]It’s difficult to explain why the spiritual direction thing didn’t work out well in a bullet, so at this point, there is no spiritual direction. I have gone to talk to a priest I like a lot, who knows me, who I confess to often, and have talked to him personally face-to-face and over the phone on several occasions. He is a great resource. I honestly wish I could just study with him, but we all know pastors are busy folks.
*]It’s also true that the Internet can be wildly random and differing in the responses one receives. Case in point, look at this board. I would safely say most of us aren’t scholared priests or apologists, just good folks looking to help others, and hopefully share our opinions of what we’ve learned, but it doesn’t always mean we have the right answers. (and that is not to say I don’t appreciate, or others don’t appreciate the help here, otherwise we wouldn’t keep coming back, right!?) So I hope no one misinterprets this as unappreciative.
*]I am reading so many Catholic books right now, it’s not even funny. I am on a continual journey to find God, get closer to God, lose my worldly self, and become a saint (maybe not in the canonized version, but you understand). I want to try to please God in everything I do, but I’m weak, and I’m a perfectionist, and that makes it so much harder.

Thank you.

I don’t think it’s measured by the earning capacity of the thief. It’s either based on the earnings of a poor day laborer, or on the earnings of the person from whom you steal. Probably the latter given the criterion already mentioned about the harm done.

So stealing $200 from Bill Gates, while certainly sinful (unless you are in desperate need and there is absolutely no other legitimate way to provide for the need, in which case it’s not stealing at all), might be venial, while stealing $200 from a migrant worker would be mortal.


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