One mortal sin from hell...

Today someone told me that Catholics are just one mortal sin from hell… He said that if you didn’t go to Mass on Sunday, and you died on Monday, you would go straight to hell, according to the Church…

What do I tell him? I feel it’s true… That’s why I feel so confused, I feel that I’m never good enough to be saved… Protestants seem to always feel so comfortable, believing that as long as they have faith, and in general follow the commandments, they will be saved. On the other hand, since I came back to the Church, I feel afraid. Not even when I was a Mormon I felt that way: In LDS doctrine most of humanity will go to a degree of Heaven…

How can I stop from feeling this guilt, this fear?


By realizing that God is a God of mercy, not of anger. That the sacraments are not there for condemnation but for grace. That going to mass is about forgiveness, not about fear. That every time you see someone step forward in front of you to receive Christ in the Eucharist, that you are watching the mercy of God unfold before your very eyes. This article may help: Confession: Celebration of mercy, not trial before prosecution

Being a Catholic is about realizing that we make mistakes, but that God has given the church the channels of grace to forgive us from those sins. That God has done everything possible to show his love. It’s not about listing your sins in fear of making a mistake, it’s about realizing you’ve made a mistake, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, going to God and admitting the mistake and going on with your life. It’s about true, agape love.

Remember also that you can make an Act of Contrition at any time, right up until your last breath. If you die sorry for your sins, even if you sinned 10 minutes before, you can trust in the mercy of God. Not by the merits of anything you may have done on your own, but by the merits of the sacrifice of Our Lord who died for our sins.

Unlike Protestantism who seem to believe that belief in Christ is a “get out of jail free card, valid for all time, regardless of your final demeanour”, Catholics do believe you need contrition (or invincible ignorance).

Trust in the mercy of God. Trust in the sacrifice of Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit speak peace to your soul and take away this anxiety. Live as best you can, be as good a person to others as you can be.

Be at peace.

There is NOTHING you can do that is automatically a mortal sin. People get on here all the time and ask "is a mortal sin. The answer is always the same, regardless of what was asked. The answer is: maybe.

We just don’t know. Only God knows for sure.

Deliberately missing Mass COULD be a mortal sin. In order for any act to be mortally sinful, three conditions must be completely fulfilled:

*]The act must be of a serious nature.
*]The person must know the serious nature of the act at the time he does it.
*]The person must possess complete freewill consent to the act.

The third condition is the really tricky one. WHY did the person miss Mass? Whatever reason(s) the person has could diminish the COMPLETE nature of his freewill consent.

Many theologians believe it is really quite difficult to commit a mortal sin. But the Church does not know (and cannot know - only God knows for sure).

that’s useful. thanks.

I think others have tackled the how to beat the fear and guilt thing already…

You answer: “Catholics may be one mortal sin away from hell, but so is everyone else… and you don’t have the benefit of Christ’s chosen sacraments or the knowledge of the Church’s teaching to help you.”

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I think a better way of thinking might be that Catholics and everybody else, are one *unrepentant *mortal sin away from hell. If you don’t have a legitimate reason to miss Mass, you aren’t sorry about it, and you have no intention of going to confession, then you might indeed be not going to so nice a place in the afterlife. If you have a legitimate excuse, then no sin happened. If you are sorry about it and intend to go to confession (and, if at all possible carry through on that opportunity), you are restored to a state of grace. The point is to develop a close relationship with God so that you don’t want to do anything so damaging to your relationship with Him as a mortal sin and so that, when/if you do commit a sin so damaging to your relationship, you are quickly penitent and trying to reestablish your relationship with Him.

Nobody, by their own merit, is good enough to be saved. God’s grace and mercy is always needed. You can always hope for God’s mercy and do your best to live out your love for Him. Be humble and hopeful:D

Continue to have your faith and follow the commandments as you did when you were a Protestant. Your faith and your good works, which show your love of God, are pleasing to God. Try to think more about God’s mercy and His love if you feel constantly guilty and fearful. Occasional guilt and fear of God encourages humility, but perpetual guilt and fear destroys the hope and joy that all Christians should strive to exude. Remember: smile because God loves it when you do:D

Please state the church teaching on this very very important matter. I have seen time and time again on this forum that if one dies with a mortal sin they go to hell, no ifs ands or butts.

When were talking salvation it needs to be taken seriously.

Now either the Church teaches they do or they don’t , which is it.

Thank you.:slight_smile:

You said,
“Not even when I was a Mormon I felt that way:
In LDS doctrine most of humanity will go to a degree of Heaven.”

Most Mormons study their Bible .

So why are you asking this question ?

According to the Bible there are three types of Hell.

The Lake of fire,

Re 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Re 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Re 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Re 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


Mr 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mt 5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Mt 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Mt 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The Grave - Hell

Mt 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell <86>: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell <86> shall not prevail against it.
Lu 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell <86>.
Lu 16:23 And in hell <86> he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Ac 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell <86>, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Therefore, Everyone goes to one type of Hell
but FIRST they have to be Judged by God
and God is very Merciful.
----Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Swoooon! That’s just so poetic (and correct)! :smiley:

Tell him that this is an oversimplification of the matter.

I feel it’s true… That’s why I feel so confused, I feel that I’m never good enough to be saved… Protestants seem to always feel so comfortable, believing that as long as they have faith, and in general follow the commandments, they will be saved. On the other hand, since I came back to the Church, I feel afraid. Not even when I was a Mormon I felt that way: In LDS doctrine most of humanity will go to a degree of Heaven…

Peace my friend.
This problem stems from an immature faith…The place we all start from. As children we learn rules, as we grow we learn, or come to understand to some degree anyway, the whys of the rules. This is true both in our family and social lives and also in our spiritual lives.
Right now you know spiritual “rules” but don’t have the understanding of the principles behind them.

How can I stop from feeling this guilt, this fear?

The simple answer is to keep learning. Not just the “rules” but the reasons behind them.
For me it was necessary to boil the faith down to it’s simplest element…And Jesus helped me tremendously with this. Read Mt 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it,Your shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Not the commonality here is Love. If all the Law and Prophets of the OT stem from Love, how much more is the NT Covenant built on this Love.
St John tells us in his first letter, that God IS Love (1 John 4:7-8).
St Paul tells us that Love is the greatest of all the virtues (1 Cor 13:1-13)
There are other verses too, like John 13:34-35
"34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another
Love drives out fear.
Pray on this. Meditate on how God Loves us and how we can love our neighbor out of Love for God. We may never be perfect, but that is only because the more perfected we become, the more glaring are our deficiencies. Yet we trust our Father to forgive us.
Remember that God is a Loving Father, not an impersonal Judge waiting to strike you down.

Likewise, all those pesky little rules will begin to make more sense when seen in the sight of Love. For instance, your friend’s comment about Sunday mass. Well - If we Love God with all of our strength, then we WANT to go to mass and we want to do it first thing in our week. In such a case we would not miss mass except for a very good reason.
The person who misses mass for little or no reason - well this speaks very loudly to how much that person loves God - And THAT points to the health and condition of his soul…not the act of missing mass itself…
Do you see what I mean?? It’s not the missing mass, it’s what the missing mass says.


Hope this helps a little.

Seek Love, Study Love, Live Love


Sorry, I’m not going to state the Church teaching on it (re: your first sentence). It is a valid question, which I hope is answered for you, but it is not something on which I can give the definitive statement you seek.

However, your statement that I have highlighted is incorrect. There are some important “if’s and but’s”. First of all, the “mortal sin” was only mortal if all three conditions were present, as described above and repeatedly in this forum, and secondly, if one repents of mortal sin, with “perfect contrition”, then one is restored to God’s friendship before sacramental confession. There may be other “if’s and but’s”, but that’s at least two :slight_smile:

Well we know what a mortal sin is, and the 3 conditions or it wouldn’t be a mortal sin. so one can be relieved with a Act of Contrition,
apparently this is a gray matter with the church then, one can’t know for sure one way or another then, I take it, unless one makes it to confesson on time.


The thing to remember is that one cannot “accidentally” commit a mortal sin.

However I have to disagree that “The Church” cannot know something is a mortal sin.
The Church, through it’s great efforts and careful teaching, has laid out very clearly the requirements for something to be Mortal sin…Any given act can them be measured against these.
Now - assuming that the Church (in the person of a priest) is able to discuss openly with the sinner (usually repentant) the various aspects of the sin, culpability can be determined to a greater or lesser degree.

But I’m splitting hairs here a bit…Forgive me.


I do not agree at all. It is very easy in most cases to know if you have committed a mortal sin.
If you deliberately miss Mass (other than for the exceptions [illness etc] specified in the CCC) you commit a mortal sin.

You are also exaggerating the three conditions.

  • grave matter
  • full knowledge
  • full consent of the will

Assuming someone is not of diminished mental capacity or being coerced then the three conditions simply mean that if a person knows the Church teaches something is of grave matter and they go ahead and do it anyway then they have committed a mortal sin. You are trying to make it seem so complicated that everyone will think they have a get out of jail free card.

That’s not what the CCC actually says…

#2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation,** unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.**119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

In other words, we can miss Mass for a “serious reason”, which is not limited to the examples in the CCC, without any sin, even venial sin, and without need to confess it.

In grave is not necessarily mortal. It has a much better chance of being mortal than sins of a less serious nature, but it’s still not necessarily mortal.

Miss church on Sunday for no good reason and die unrepentant --YES you would go to Hell!

If peple really believed this truth how many more would be at church?!

You don’t have to disagree, you are both right but speaking to different things… one with a well formed conscience is ALWAYS able to know if they are in a state of grace… however, what he said is something different entirely…

Namely, that things constitute GRAVE MATTER, not that they are defined as mortal sins automatically, so there is never a case where one can look without totally understanding the position of the doer of the deed and objectively declare that an act was automatically and without any doubt whatsoever a mortal sin.

That is true, we cannot judge the culpability of others, we can only help them to discern from themselves based on what they tell us… but the reality is we will never know with certainty… only they will.

This is the way I view this issue as well.

I’ve attempted threads that address this issue. I believe it is quite obvious that the 60-90% (depending in your source of data) of catholics that miss Mass do not believe they are in mortal sin. Considering the only alternative to this is that they are not troubled by the idea of their skin burning off throughout all eternity.

Which means (logically speaking) that either they are unaware of the church’s teaching on this matter (which I doubt. They’d have to have thier catholic head in the proverbial sand to not have heard that this is the church’s teaching). Or they do not believe the church has the power/authority to so dogmatically profess such a thing.

Therefore it seems to me that the question IS NOT if a person is going to hell if they miss a Sunday Mass for no good reason. Rather the question IS why are so many catholics so unaware (or so quick to disregard) the teaching of the authority of the church (not the specific teaching, but the authority to teach the specific teaching)?

The question IS, does this disbelief of the church’s authority lessen the 2nd or 3rd component, full knowledge/full consent therefore rendering the sin, not mortal?

I’ve blown this horn before and get few takers except for the pius who effectively suggest 60-90% (much more actually) of catholics and virtually all others, have a one way ticket to the oven.

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