Presumption


#1

Is the sin of presumption mortal or venial?


#2

No act, in and of itself, is "mortal" or "venial".


#3

[quote="snarflemike, post:2, topic:332019"]
No act, in and of itself, is "mortal" or "venial".

[/quote]

Correct. There is no such thing as a particular offense that is always mortal (or always venial). Any evil act can be mortally sinful, and any evil act can be venially sinful.

People often visit this forum and ask, is a mortal sin? The answer is always the same (regardless of the act). The answer is: maybe.


#4

[quote="snarflemike, post:2, topic:332019"]
No act, in and of itself, is "mortal" or "venial".

[/quote]

How do you know what to confess to the priest?


#5

[quote="Roger12345, post:4, topic:332019"]
How do you know what to confess to the priest?

[/quote]

You should confess ALL sins (that you are aware of, obviously). You need not (and should not) try to distinguish mortal from venial. In fact, the Church teaches that nobody can make this distinction (not even ourselves). We cannot know if any particular sin is mortal or venial (because that would mean that we know "for sure" if we are in a state of Grace, which we cannot know - only God knows "for sure.")

Any sin can be mortal, and any sin can be venial. In Confession, the distinction does not matter - they are all absolved. Never withhold an offense that you think is too trivial to confess. I have confessed "serious" sins, and also a few "trivial" sins, and it is sometimes the "trivial" sin that my confessor wants to talk about.


#6

[quote="Roger12345, post:1, topic:332019"]
Is the sin of presumption mortal or venial?

[/quote]

I think there may often be a fine line between trust in God's mercy and a presumption of mercy that can lead us to be careless in how we live. Perhaps as our walk with out Lord continues we get to understand that line better. Sometimes perhaps presumption is not so much an intentional sin, but an immaturity in the understanding of grace and mercy.


#7

In regards to the Bolded…The Catechism seems to say differently.
1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession,
This indicates that one CAN know ( be conscious) that they have committed a mortal sin.

Peace
James


#8

Thomas Aquinas talked about presumption as being one of the sins against the Holy Spirit, whereby we insult the Spirit of Grace by presuming that we can go on consciously sinning and God will wink at us. This is also talked about in the book of Jude, which in it he refers to those that treat Jesus' redemptive sacrifice as a license for immorality (Jesus has me covered, so I can sin and everything will be fine). Presumption is impossible to be forgiven either here or in the hereafter, because we cannot be forgiven if we do not seek forgiveness in the first place. The opposite of presumption is despair, where we assume that we cannot be forgiven because our own evil is greater than the Spirit of Grace.

So before a person can be forgiven of conscious grave sin, they have to seek forgiveness in confession and be contrite, otherwise it is eternal.

OFC the mortality of the sin may not be set in stone depending on the circumstances of the particular person, but if you're an informed Catholic, I can't see you having hardly any wiggle room here. If you go around living in impenitent sin day in and day out while professing to be a Christian, you're damned, and in all likelihood, you're more damned than the vast majority of unbelievers.


#9

[quote="JRKH, post:7, topic:332019"]
This indicates that one CAN know ( be conscious) that they have committed a mortal sin.

[/quote]

We can be pretty darned sure, but not absolutely sure. Per the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent (Chapter-9):

For as no pious person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so each one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension concerning his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God. [emphasis mine]

A (newly) Baptized Christian is clearly in a state of Grace. A Christian may forfeit this state by mortal sin. But no Christian may know for sure if s/he has actually done so - this knowledge belongs to God alone.

If we cannot know for sure whether we are in a state of Grace (whereas we were once certainly in such a state owing to our Baptism), we cannot know for sure if we have forfeited this state. My logic breaks down if we were never sure of being in a state of Grace in the first place, but we are assured of this fact. Therefore, we cannot possibly know for sure of our own condemnation.


#10

hhhmmmm…
Interesting…
So how do you reconcile Trent with the statement in the Catechism (1456) that we must confess, “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious…” (Where conscious = aware = know)

Peace
James


#11

Dave,
I think there may be a logical error in your reasoning there. You are speaking about losing grace via (supposed) mortal sin. I think Trent is speaking of gaining grace outside the sacraments. One thing may not actually correlate to the other.

But I still need to ponder this.

peace
steve


#12

Ok,

I think this may be the way to make the two views accord.

If we knew for sure EVERY mortal sin we had committed after our last valid sacramental confession, then wr could know of the our soul with respect to sanctifying grace. However, it is not a giventhat we have knowledge of all, only some, if any.
peace
steve


#13

[quote="JRKH, post:10, topic:332019"]
So how do you reconcile Trent with the statement in the Catechism (1456) that we must confess, "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious..." (Where conscious = aware = know)

[/quote]

Like I said, we can be pretty darned sure, and this constitutes a type of knowledge that is well informed, but is not infallible. Just because we cannot ever know for sure does not mean we cannot ever know (even if our knowledge is incorrect). Whenever I have accused myself of mortal sin, it's been pretty flippin' obvious, at least to me. My confessor did not take issue with my assessment. But, if I was mistaken, it would not matter - I would have merely confessed a venial sin (which I'm supposed to do anyway).

However, this exposes what I consider to be the greatest question for which the Catholic Church has no answer. It has been debated by theologians for many centuries. The question is: is it easy or hard for a person of good will to commit a mortal sin?

By "easy" and "hard," I refer to the requirement of complete freewill assent, which is one of the three requirements for any sin to be mortal in nature. A person who gets drunk might be accused of the sin of gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins, making it a prime candidate for a mortal sin). But if the person is an alcoholic, could this "addiction" impede his free will (even to a very small degree) and thus reduce the sin to a venial state?

Alas, we cannot know. The answer does not appear to be part of the Deposit of Faith.


#14

I think Trent is speaking of obtaining Grace within the Sacramental economy (since the Church does not teach that any form of Grace besides Prevenient Grace is obtained apart from the Christian Sacraments).

But I think I understand your point. Trent is saying that we cannot know for sure if we are in a state of Grace. I said that we cannot know for sure if we are guilty of mortal sin. Although (as you say) the claims are not the same (one speaks of obtaining a state of Grace, and the other speaks of losing it), I reason that one must follow the other.

Here is the complete logical construct:

[LIST]
*]We are assured that we have been (at some point) in a state of Grace (Christian Baptism).
*]We can only be removed from a state of Grace by mortal sin (Catholic dogma).
*]Mortal sin is the ONLY thing that can remove us from a state of Grace, and it is 100% effective in doing so (Catholic dogma).
*]If we knew for sure that we had committed a mortal sin, then we would know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace.
*]We cannot know for sure that we are presently in a state of Grace (Trent).
*]If we could know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace, then lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace.
*]But we cannot know for sure that we are in a state of Grace (established).
*]THEREFORE, we cannot know for sure that we have committed a mortal sin (which would mean we are NOT in a state of Grace), as mortal sin is the only thing that can remove us from a state of Grace (established).
[/LIST]


#15

[quote="DavidFilmer, post:14, topic:332019"]
I think Trent is speaking of obtaining Grace within the Sacramental economy (since the Church does not teach that any form of Grace besides Prevenient Grace is obtained apart from the Christian Sacraments).

But I think I understand your point. Trent is saying that we cannot know for sure if we are in a state of Grace. I said that we cannot know for sure if we are guilty of mortal sin. Although (as you say) the claims are not the same (one speaks of obtaining a state of Grace, and the other speaks of losing it), I reason that one must follow the other.

Here is the complete logical construct:

[LIST]
]We are assured that we have been (at some point) in a state of Grace (Christian Baptism).
*]We can only be removed from a state of Grace by mortal sin (Catholic dogma).
*]Mortal sin is the ONLY thing that can remove us from a state of Grace, and it is 100% effective in doing so (Catholic dogma).
*]If we knew *for sure
that we had committed a mortal sin, then we would know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace.
]We cannot know *for sure that we are presently in a state of Grace (Trent).
]If we *could** know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace, then lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace.
]But we cannot know *for sure that we are in a state of Grace (established).
]THEREFORE, we cannot know *for sure that we have committed a mortal sin (which would mean we are NOT in a state of Grace), as mortal sin is the only thing that can remove us from a state of Grace (established).
[/LIST]

[/quote]

As a Catholic I know that adultery is a sin of grave matter. Knowing that it means if I have an affair with another woman I have committed adultery and can be 100% sure I have committed a mortal sin.


#16

[quote="DavidFilmer, post:13, topic:332019"]
Like I said, we can be pretty darned sure, and this constitutes a type of knowledge that is well informed, but is not infallible. Just because we cannot ever know for sure does not mean we cannot ever know (even if our knowledge is incorrect). Whenever I have accused myself of mortal sin, it's been pretty flippin' obvious, at least to me. My confessor did not take issue with my assessment. But, if I was mistaken, it would not matter - I would have merely confessed a venial sin (which I'm supposed to do anyway).

[/quote]

OK David...Thanks for the clarification.

Now let's go back to the original statement you made that started this particular discussion. I'm going to dissect it a bit here so that we can better determine where we agree or disagree. You said:
You should confess ALL sins (that you are aware of, obviously).
Agreed in a normative situation. Of course if one is struggling with Scruples, they need to be guided by their confessor and Spiritual director.

You need not (and should not) try to distinguish mortal from venial. In fact, the Church teaches that nobody can make this distinction (not even ourselves). *
Here I disagree. The Catechism gives instruction on how to distinguish between the two and we need to take heed of that instruction. Our assessment may not be infallible...but as you yourself say above - we can be "pretty darned sure, and this constitutes a type of knowledge that is well informed". Thus we can "know" with a pretty high degree of certainty - (even if we cannot "know" infallibly).

*We cannot know if any particular sin is mortal or venial (because that would mean that we know "for sure" if we are in a state of Grace, which we cannot know - only God knows "for sure.")

I think this is where understanding fell apart. In writing "for sure" you were thinking "infallibly" and I was thinking "with a high degree of certainty".
The Catechism does not require "infallibility" for us to "know" (be "pretty darn sure"). The Catechism describes the necessary knowledge as, "it presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law..." (CCC1859)
If you agree that we can have this knowledge (with a reasonable degree of surety) then it follows that we said knowledge can be sufficient to distinguish between mortal and venial sin.

Even without the charism of infallibility.

However, this exposes what I consider to be the greatest question for which the Catholic Church has no answer. It has been debated by theologians for many centuries. The question is: is it easy or hard for a person of good will to commit a mortal sin?

By "easy" and "hard," I refer to the requirement of complete freewill assent, which is one of the three requirements for any sin to be mortal in nature. A person who gets drunk might be accused of the sin of gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins, making it a prime candidate for a mortal sin). But if the person is an alcoholic, could this "addiction" impede his free will (even to a very small degree) and thus reduce the sin to a venial state?

Alas, we cannot know. The answer does not appear to be part of the Deposit of Faith.

I would disagree that the Church does not have an answer to this question. I would assert that the answer is simply not an easy - cookie-cutter - one size fits all type answer. There can be many factors at play in any given situation.

Take the matter you mention above - a person who get's drunk and who may very well be addicted. Some questions that could be asked are...When did this person come to the Lord? Was he already addicted when he was baptized? Was this person aware when he took his first drink that drunkenness was a sin? Assuming that said person is now aware of the sinful nature of the act...is this person now seeking help? What caused this particular episode of drunkenness?

I would wager that in such cases the average middle-aged priest could put together a questionnaire or survey easily of a dozen or more questions that could effect culpability - and many of those questions would lead to other questions.
This is why private, regular confession is so important. It allows for the individuals involved (priest and penitent) to review the specifics and come to a proper understanding.

David - I hope that I do not sound too argumentative on this. In truth, it is a subject that has given me some problems in my return to the Church and I must admit not being too happy with how the catechism approaches the subject. Like you - I don't think that it makes things terribly clear....but my own attempts at taking a different tack to make things more clear have not fared any better. So I guess we shall all have to continue to struggle on....

Peace
James


#17

[quote="Roger12345, post:1, topic:332019"]
Is the sin of presumption mortal or venial?

[/quote]

Roger - Having reflected on your OP some and recognizing that, as others have shown, there is not necessarily an easy answer to this, I am going to venture a response to your question here.

The Sin of Presumption is a serious sin. I refrain from saying mortal because, as others have pointed out, the specifics need to be looked at with a good confessor.

Fr Serpa gives a wonderful explanation HERE that I think will help show why I call it a serious sin. I particularly like the phrase that says it is a "condition of a soul..." for I really think that this is what is so dangerous about it.

It speaks to a lack of humility and a disorder in our Love of God.

Presumption, while genuine ignorance can be present, tends to assume a certain level of knowledge as to what is and is not sin. It then chooses to act contrary to God - presuming that God will forgive. This puts one two thirds of the way to mortal sin and like the factors "feigned ignorance and hardness of heart" listed in CCC1859, it would seem that such presumption can actually increase rather than decrease culpability.

To me - the greatest problem with presumption is that it is insidious it can start small. One thinks, "Oh this is only a venial sin and God will forgive me for this", and indeed the gravity of a specific sin (anger, or a "white lie", or holding a grudge, or whatever) may indeed only be a venial ....but the presumption increases the gravity while hiding behind the veil of "God is merciful".

Another avenue that presumption works through is our tendency to justify sinful thoughts and actions. "Oh he deserved that"...or taking some sort of revenge under the guise of "getting even"...These are things that can easily be seen as presuming on God's mercy while not trying to amend our own lives.

Peace
James


#18

[quote="DavidFilmer, post:14, topic:332019"]
I think Trent is speaking of obtaining Grace within the Sacramental economy (since the Church does not teach that any form of Grace besides Prevenient Grace is obtained apart from the Christian Sacraments).

But I think I understand your point. Trent is saying that we cannot know for sure if we are in a state of Grace. I said that we cannot know for sure if we are guilty of mortal sin. Although (as you say) the claims are not the same (one speaks of obtaining a state of Grace, and the other speaks of losing it), I reason that one must follow the other.

Here is the complete logical construct:

[LIST]
]We are assured that we have been (at some point) in a state of Grace (Christian Baptism).
*]We can only be removed from a state of Grace by mortal sin (Catholic dogma).
*]Mortal sin is the ONLY thing that can remove us from a state of Grace, and it is 100% effective in doing so (Catholic dogma).
*]If we knew *for sure
that we had committed a mortal sin, then we would know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace.
]We cannot know *for sure that we are presently in a state of Grace (Trent).
]If we *could** know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace, then lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace.
]But we cannot know *for sure that we are in a state of Grace (established).
]THEREFORE, we cannot know *for sure that we have committed a mortal sin (which would mean we are NOT in a state of Grace), as mortal sin is the only thing that can remove us from a state of Grace (established).
[/LIST]

[/quote]

David,

I think your logic follows similarly to mine. However, here's the logical error that I see.

We are assured that we have been (at some point) in a state of Grace (Christian Baptism).
We can only be removed from a state of Grace by mortal sin (Catholic dogma).
Mortal sin is the ONLY thing that can remove us from a state of Grace, and it is 100% effective in doing so (Catholic dogma).
If we knew for sure that we had committed a mortal sin, then we would know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace.
We cannot know for sure that we are presently in a state of Grace (Trent).Up to this point, we are in absolute agreement. However:

[quote]If we could know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace, then lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace.

..is not true. For example, we may have not been diligent enough to discover the mortal sin. We could know, but willfully do not, or through lack of diligence do not.

To see how the statement may not be true, lets look at the contranegative:

let A="we could know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace"
and B="lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace".

Then if "A implies B" is true, then by logic, "not B implies not A" is also true. .

So, doing "not B=>not A", we have:

If "lack of the sure knowledge that we are NOT in a state of grace does not

" tell us for sure that we are in a state of grace,

(that is, if "presence of sure knowledge that we are not in a state of grace does" tell us for sure that we are in a state of grace,)

-then-

we could know for sure that we are in a state of grace,

But this is not obviously true. Sure knowledge of not being in the state of grace cannot tell one if he is in the state of grace. It can only tell him if he is not. This is because there is always that possiblity that one does not have this sure knowledge. Just because sure knowledge exists does not mean we are privy to it in all cases.

But we cannot know for sure that we are in a state of Grace (established).
THEREFORE, we cannot know for sure that we have committed a mortal sin (which would mean we are NOT in a state of Grace), as mortal sin is the only thing that can remove us from a state of Grace (established).

No, this THEREFORE should be as follows:

"THEREFORE, Presence of sure knowledge that we are not in a state of grace does NOT

" tell us for sure that we are in a state of grace,)

[/quote]

peace
steve


#19

[quote="thenobes, post:18, topic:332019"]

Up to this point, we are in absolute agreement. However:

If we could know for sure that we are NOT in a state of Grace, then lack of this knowledge would tell us for sure that we ARE in a state of Grace.

..is not true. For example, we may have not been diligent enough to discover the mortal sin. We could know, but willfully do not, or through lack of diligence do not.

[/quote]

(it is unfortunate that your quote-nesting got messed up.)

OK, my logic was not rigorous enough. I should have added one condition:

We cannot know *for sure* (through any diligence of our own, regardless of how diligent we might be) if we are in a state of Grace (Trent).

We could know, but willfully do not, or through lack of diligence do not.

Either way, we do not know for sure if we are in a state of mortal sin. We might be culpable for this ignorance (AND to the sin to which this ignorance applies), but I still maintain that we could not (with any degree of diligence) know for sure one way or another.

If we are Baptized (and thus were, at one point, in a state of Grace), and we cannot know for sure if we remain in a state of Grace, then we cannot know for sure if we have forfeited our state of Grace. Since mortal sin is the ONLY thing that can remove us from a state of Grace, we cannot know for sure if we have committed a mortal sin.

But we can be pretty darned sure.


#20

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