Possible Mortal Sin

I sometimes wrongly desire sexual images or sexual stimulation and end up on google images… and searching something like “hot girls” and then contemplate removing the filter so I can see some of what I kinda wrongly want to see. So once or twice I did so and quickly realized that this is wrong and that I really don’t want to put myself through this again so I close the window and clear my history. But then I feel bad because I am not sure whether peaking quickly then realizing this was a mortal sin or not. You see I desire these things but do not wish to because I see it as a sign of weakness and that it does not promote productive behavior, it makes me sad afterwards, I don’t feel any emotional connection to these women, and I often feel that I have failed in some way. Believe me I truly don’t want to commit the sin but I end up in this state where I become very tempted. I think I am truly looking for love and companionship. This is clearly not the place to find that but sometimes my mind forgets that and I end up briefly on then directly off. So is this a mortal sin? Same thing with the self stimulation… when I start then quickly stop. What If i go all the way knowing its a mistake but am under great temptation(in my head)?

My understanding is that failure to avoid the near occasion of a sin is as grave as committing the sin. If one fails to avoid the near occasion of a venial sin, he has committed a venial sin. Likewise, if he fails to avoid the near occasion of a mortal sin, a mortal sin has been committed.

Do you have a source for that?

If you think it is a mortal sin, it likely is; GO TO CONFESSION IMMEDIATELY!!!

First of all…this would probably get better attention in the moral theology apologetics section…but with that said-----

MtnDwellar…you are not correct…while I do agree with you, that you must avoid near occasions of sin at all cost and by exposing yourself to them is unwise and may lead to sin, a near ocassion of sin is not an actual sin but a situation that makes you more prone to sin. For instance, for a recovering alcoholic to walk into a bar is stupid and can tempt him to drink…this is an occasion of sin. However the act of walking into that bar is not a sin in and of itself.

With that said, To the OP…a mortal sin must be a clear sin in your mind. You should know and will know if you have in fact committed a mortal sin. If you are questioning whether or not you committed a sin, then you have not sinned because you are obviously lacking one of the 3 conditions to make it a mortal sin. Now, if you know something is sinful (and yes, looking at pornographic photos and masturbation are both intrinsically evil and sinful) and you choose to do it anyway, then it is very possible you have committed a mortal sin…but yet again, all 3 conditions must be present and only you and God know if that is the case. I suggest talking it over with your confessor and let them guide you properly. It is possibly you have scruples too. An explanation of what I am trying to say can be found here:

I did something like this and I went to Confession. The priest seemed to think it was a mortal sin.

I am not sure if that is mortal sin at that point, but it is worth going to Confession either way. Even if it were a venial sin, the Sacrament gives you graces to fight the temptation.

That is not necessarily true. Our ability to rationalize and lie to ourselves means that sometimes, even though deep down we know that we have committed a serious sin, we question it nevertheless. Anybody who thinks he might have committed a mortal sin ought to go to Confession.

I would lean toward early sacred scripture where Adam, after eating the forbidden fruit, was hiding ashamed and embarrassed, placing distance between him and God. All sin, to varying degrees place distance between you and God but if you are aware that this particular sin will do this and you freely decide to do it then it becomes a mortal sin.
*Please note that not all grave sins are mortal sins but all mortal sins are grave in nature.
Look toward the Catechism (big green book) for guidance.

This is a quote from Liguori Publications by Fr. Thomas M. Santa, C.SS.R.

"2. You shall not confess doubtful sins in confession, but only sins that are clear and certain.

Of all of the correspondence that I receive, I would say that this issue is the one that occurs most often. “What does a person do if they are not sure that they committed a sin?” For this reason, this is a very important commandment to remember because it clearly states the truth: Doubtful sins don’t count! There is no need to confess something that does not clearly and certainly exist. In fact, it is harmful to one’s self to confess that which is doubtful. Again, such a practice is not at all helpful and must be resisted.

Now I can almost hear some of you saying, “I am not sure if I doubt that I sinned or if I am just trying to fool myself to believe that I am doubting that I sinned.” This thought in itself demonstrates that you are in fact doubting and so, therefore, the commandment comes into play: You shall not confess doubtful sins."

I have never heard of this person. The Baltimore Catechism says:
It is necessary to confess every mortal sin which has not yet been confessd and forgiven; it is not necessary to confess our venial sins, but it is better to do so.

Anyone who deliberately omits a venial sin in confession does not make a bad confession but loses much of the grace of the Sacrament which would help him to overcome this sin. Besides there is the danger that he might convince himself that a sin is only venial which is really mortal. In doubt, it is always safer to tell even venial sins.

Actually, I think this is incorrect. If the act of walking into the bar is voluntary (e.g. no physical force was used) and not necessary (e.g. to get a fellow alcoholic to leave would be necessary in charity), then it is a sin. If not, it would basically be impossible for an alcoholic to commit any mortal sin related to drink.

Alcoholic walks into a bar, for no reason other than he wants to go into the bar. [Not a sin according to your definition.]
Alcoholic orders and drinks a drink. [Not a mortal sin, because the habit and addiction take away the possibility for full consent of the will once the alcoholic is in the setting where everyone is drinking.]
Alcoholic orders and drinks several more drinks. [Not a mortal sin, for the same reason as above, and progressively because full consent of the will is not possible in a drunken state.]
Alcoholic leaves the bar and robs a liquor store, commits adultery, kills someone while DUI, etc. [Not a mortal sin because of being drunk and not in control.]

And so forth. Voluntarily placing yourself, without any necessary cause, in a position where you know you are unlikely to be able to resist temptation is a sin. I don’t think that the Church has a specific teaching on whether that sin is of the same gravity as the sin you are tempting yourself to, and my personal opinion is that it is somewhat less. But it is still a sin. If it is a sin to tempt others to sin (and it is) then it is also a sin to tempt yourself to sin.

If you know that you can’t avoid drinking 8 drinks if you have one, and you know that you cannot avoid having one drink in a bar, then choosing to go into a bar basically is the same sin as choosing to have 8 drinks. The degree to which you might be able to withstand temptation when in the bar or after the first drink, determines how much less serious the sin of going into the bar is compared to the sin of having 8 drinks. (This part is not official Church teaching AFAIK, but it is compatible with it.)

Two other things related to this issue:

Every time we pray the Our Father, we ask that God lead us not into temptation. It is a little hypocritical to pray this if we are going to turn around and lead our own selves into temptation.

In the Act of Contrition that I have used from my childhood, which I think is a pretty common one, we pray something like: “I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” (some forms say “to avoid whatever leads me to sin” instead.) If we have resolved to avoid them, in the presence of a priest acting in persona Christi, and then we do not attempt to avoid them, that is sinful.

Just my :twocents:


If a recovering alcoholic attends a family wedding where he knows there will be abundant alcohol that’s also an occasion of sin but I can’t see how it would even be a venial sin, let alone a mortal one. He knows there is temptation but he resolves to resist.

Since, as I said, I had not heard of this priest, I did a bit of research. This is what I found:Thomas M. Santa, C.Ss.R., former director/editor of the Scrupulous Anonymous newsletter (1993-2003), is the director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona. He works with people who suffer from scrupulosity and offers retreats and workshops to pastoral ministers and professional therapists who work with people suffering from the compulsion. His latest book is Sacred Refuge: Why and How to Make a Retreat (Ave Maria Press, 2005).

Something that is good advice for those who struggle with scrupulosity is not necessarily good advice for Catholics, in general. It is a specific pastoral situation.

There are 10 commandments, and that is not one of them. It is merely the opinion of one person, not an official teaching of the Church. Along the lines you have indicated, in about 6 months, it would become basically impossible for me to “sin” in any way. I am perfectly capable of talking myself into believing any number of things are doubtful, that to any impartial observer would be obviously sinful.

Extreme example: It is hard for me to go to bed early. I habitually go to bed late. Also it is sometimes hard for me to wake up on Sunday, and I have some habits of sloth. Do these habits make it not my fault if I miss Mass? Well, I asked the question, so it must not be a sin.

That seems to me an extremely dangerous teaching that has the capacity to lead many people into committing and not confessing a lot of sins. It might be appropriate if a person has a live spiritual director (not some anonymous person online) who has told him that he suffers from scrupulosity. For the rest of us, it is, IMO, dangerous advice.


You struck the nail on the head when you said “I think”…that is right…you think that, but it doesn’t make it so…just because you think it. And when you say the Act of Contrition, you are reciting it at that point in time, and if you honestly firmly resolve to avoid all occasions of sin at the point in time you are reciting it, then you have not committed any sin by coming in contact with an occasion of sin. However, if while reciting that Act of Contrition, you are planning on going out and committing that particular sin again or plan on putting yourself in the right environment to where you will more than likely sin…then that is sinful, because you are saying the words while already knowing you are going to break them. If you recite the Act of Contrition and whole heartedly mean every word you are saying…then out of human frailty, at a later time, put yourself in a near occasion of sin…then that has no bearing on making your act of contrition null and void.

And like I said before, you must commit a sin before a sin takes place. It asinine to say you have sinned when you have not…was it a smart idea to put yourself in a near occasion of sin? Heck no…was it a venial sin…not sure, but probably…Mortal sin—Definitely not unless you acted on those urges you subjected yourself to and followed through and committed the actual sin.

Do you people read all the post before you try to defend your points??? My original post in this thread to the OP told him that it is possible that he could suffer from Scruples, therefore I suggested the website to deals with that. Another poster refuted the advice given, so I posted what it says on the site to clarify what I was trying to tell them. That is why the site was posted. And the advice is good advice, because you can not accidently commit a mortal sin. That is the point I was making to the OP.

THis is the last part of my original post—I told the OP to seek out advice from his own confessor, but offered online resources…so all you self proclaimed Aquinas and Augustines need to chill out.

"Now, if you know something is sinful (and yes, looking at pornographic photos and masturbation are both intrinsically evil and sinful) and you choose to do it anyway, then it is very possible you have committed a mortal sin…but yet again, all 3 conditions must be present and only you and God know if that is the case. I suggest talking it over with your confessor and let them guide you properly. It is possibly you have scruples too. An explanation of what I am trying to say can be found here:
mission.liguori.org/newsletters/scrupulosity.htm "

I too struggle with my past. I would rather that it be on the web so I can easily shut it off. But what I have is permanently recorded in my mind. Sometimes it comes back and its hard to keep it out all the time.

I received advice that something like this, sometimes you try to hard to do the impossible. In my case, I cannot remove what is in my mind. What I can do is pray to Jesus and ask Him to release me from the bond of sin. I’ve been better since. Not perfect, I still lapse. But not as much as before.

Sometimes our since are a product of our habit, an addiction. After being in the habit of sin for a long time, we cannot just break free at once. Its a long and gradual process. God does not expect you to stop sinning immediately. But put forth the effort and keep praying, and He will be with you every step of the way.

Rev. Thomas M. Santa, C.Ss.R.

Rev. Santa is Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center. He is the former President and Publisher of Liguori Publications (1992-1999). In addition to his role and expertise in Catholic Publishing, he is also a published author whose works include “Marian Shrines of the United States”, “Dear Padre: I Have A Question”, “Understanding Scrupulosity”, and four contributions to “The Essential Catholic Handbook” series published by Liguori Publications. These include Handbooks on the Sacraments, the Bible, and the Liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. His recent book is “Retreats, Exploring A Great Religious Tradition” (Ave Maria Press). In recent years, Father Santa has contributed to the process of nurturing and encouraging authors through his leadership in the formation of the Catholic Writers Retreat and Workshop annually sponsored by the Redemptorist Renewal Center. He currently serves as Theological Editor and Consultant for the E. T. Nedder Publishing Company, Tucson, Arizona.

I saw no reason to suspect that the OP suffers from scruples. If he does, going to Confession and talking to a priest is the best way to find out. You obviously mean well, but I am concerned that your posts could discourage people from a much needed Sacrament.

The advice you are have been giving is over-simplified. It is not taking into account vincible ignorance, i.e. Lack of knowledge for which a person is morally responsible. It is culpable ignorance because it could be cleared up if the person used sufficient diligence. One is said to be simply (but culpably) ignorant if one fails to make enough effort to learn what should be known; guilt then depends on one’s lack of effort to clear up the ignorance. That person is crassly ignorant when the lack of knowledge is not directly willed but rather due to neglect or laziness; as a result the guilt is somewhat lessened, but in grave matters a person would still be gravely responsible. A person has affected ignorance when one deliberately fosters it in order not to be inhibited in what one wants to do; such ignorance is gravely wrong when it concerns serious matters. (Etym. Latin vincibilis, easily overcome; ignorantia, want of knowledge or information.)
[from: [URL=“http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=37108”]http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary /index.cfm?id=37108 ]


Ya know, I think everybody that has posted is really trying to help this person. I think the idea of talking to his confessor may be the best advice. I also believe this, if you think you’ve committed a mortal sin, then confessing it is fine even if it is not a mortal sin. After all, we can confess venial sins. We do receive graces by going to the sacrament.

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