Purgatory/Hell question


#1

Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?


#2

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?
[/quote]

I am assuming you mean if you knowingly kept back from the priest a mortal sin you knew was mortal, committed anyway with your free will. If that were the case then the mortal sin would remain on your soul. If you didn’t meet these criteria, then you would have to pay the temporal punishment for that mortal sin in purgatory (assuming you did no penance) but you would not be held culpable for it. God understands and knows us intimately. He knows when you understand something or not and if you freely committed any sin, mortal or venial. Did I answer your question?


#3

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?
[/quote]

Outside of confession, you may make an act of perfect contrition to ask for forgiveness. Perfect contrition regrets sin solely because it offends God, whereas imperfect contrition regrets sin because it deprives us of heaven and condemns us to hell. It must however be noted that an act of perfect contrition includes the intention of seeking sacramental confession as soon as possible!

Why? First, because the depths of even our own hearts are unknown to us. We can make reasonable guesses of our own motivations but that is all they are - guesses. Therefore you can never be assured that your contrition is perfect. Second, the sacrament of confession does not only absolve sins, but infuses grace into us to guard against future sin. True penitence includes a firm resolve against future sin - a resolve that can be strengthened and empowered by the grace God extends to us in this sacrament. Third, the sacrament of confession is the ordinary means that God forgives us of our sins. This is because it is the sacrament that Christ gave to his apostles and to the Church for the forgiveness of sins. It is not for us to intentionally circumnavigate the means that he established.

We entrust those who, through no fault of their own, have no access to God’s ordinary means to God’s care and mercy, as we trust the he is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. But we also acknowledge that God’s ordinary means are as such for a reason - they are the best means. Therefore go and meet God in confession - he is waiting for you there!


#4

[quote=jccurtis]Outside of confession, you may make an act of perfect contrition to ask for forgiveness. Perfect contrition regrets sin solely because it offends God, whereas imperfect contrition regrets sin because it deprives us of heaven and condemns us to hell.
[/quote]

I’m curious about something. How would contrition motivated by concern for those fellow human beings you’ve wronged fall on this scale?


#5

[quote=SamCA]I’m curious about something. How would contrition motivated by concern for those fellow human beings you’ve wronged fall on this scale?
[/quote]

Here is the CCC 1451-1454, which deals with contrition:

[quote=CCC]1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”[50]

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]

1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic Letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.[53]
[/quote]

In particular, I point out that attrition (imperfect contrtion) is “born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness” among other things (CCC 1453). I am not a theologian, but I think that concern for wronged fellow human beings could fall under this consideration of the ugliness of sin.

Also, a distinction must be made between concern of the wrongs we have caused our fellow man which leads us to perfect contrition and that which springs forth from perfect contrition. The latter is superior to the former, but both are goods, and indeed the former is “a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1453).


#6

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession?

[/quote]

No, so long as you had contrition of charity. Contrition of charity remits all sin, even those that you have not yet confessed to a priest.

Without contrition of charity, however, you would indeed be at risk of eternal damnation.

If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?

If you died impenitent of mortal sin, you would indeed go to hell according to Catholic teaching, by your own freewill refusal to love God and keep his commands.

However, can contrition (sorrow for sin) alone remit all sin? Yes, if it is contrition of charity, which is sorrow for sin because you love God, who is deserving of all our love above all else. So, merely not having sacramental absolution does not mean you are without remission of sins. Sacremental aboslution without sorrow for sin does not remit your sins. Contrition of charity alone without sacramental absolution does remit sin.

Why confess then? Because by definition, contrition of charity includes the implicit intent to confess one’s sin. If you did not at least intend to confess your sins, then you would show by this a distinct LACK of charity, as you would be in contempt of what God commands. You cannot refuse God’s will yet pretend you are sorry for your sins. It doesn’t work that way. God knows better. He knows what you intend and what you do not intend. You can’t fake contrition with God.

The Church is that teaching and governing authority God left upon the earth, and expects you to obey. What the Church binds upon earth is bound in heaven, what the Church loosens on earth is loosed in heaven. If you defiantly oppose God’s Holy Church, you are without contrition of charity, and by your malice or contempt of God’s will, you risk eternal damnation.


#7

That’s great. thanks, everyone, who posted here. I think I pretty much get it now.


#8

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?
[/quote]

Do you really think that we can sit here and tell you who would or wouldn’t go to hell? The Church teaches that if you commit a mortal sin and then die without sacramental confession, you **could **go to hell; we do not say that you **will **go to hell!

There are other factors involved that could possibly limit the culpability of the sinner and keep them from eternal damnation. Since there are so many variables to consider, plus the difficulty in reading other peoples heart; the Church wisely leaves it all up to God! :wink:

The important thing for Catholics to know is that they should make every effort to avoid mortal sin but if they wind up committing a mortal sin anyway they should make every effort to go to confession as soon as possible because if they become lazy and take salvation for granted they very well could end up in hell!


#9

Okay, I just had a thought. What if somebody was walking along the street and committed a mortal sin (I can’t think of an example, but I’m sure it’s possible) and then walked out into the road and got hit by a truck and killed? If they had no time for regret and acts of perfect contrition then what would be their situation there? If, for example, they were the sort of person who would usually have confessed the sin they had committed - whatever it was - or would have had an act of perfect contrition, given the time, if they were not killed immediately afterwards?


#10

situations like this are where we trust the grace and mercy of God. when we mortally sin, we are endangering our souls. however, He knows when and where we will do this - and can save us from eternal damnation by giving us time to confess.

this is not to give us a false sense of ‘God will work it all out - i can sin all i want to’. that mentality is not trusting God, it’s taking God for granted.


#11

Don’t be angry with me, but I had to giggle when I read your post. It reminded me of when I was in grade school, and our Parish priest would come it to teach religion that day. We would come up with these questions that seemed so reasonable at the time : “Father, what happens if I was on a big ship and it was Saturday and I was supposed to go to Mass on Sunday but I got pneumonia right before midnight so I was really sick the next day and couldn’t go but then the ship would cross the international date line so now its Monday, unless it went the other way, so that I was sick just on Saturday…”

If I understand the CCC, a great deal of determination of our afterlife depends upon our intent when and if we commit a mortal sin. Look at your question in light of the explanations you have received - in particular the explanation regarding perfect contrition. See if you can come up with an answer and then run it by one of the apologetics, like Father Serpa. It will help you start to exercise that wonderful mind God gave you and you will learn so much faster.

Good luck! And thank you, everyone, for your input on this thread. I have learned so much from all of you it is wonderful to be a part of this Catholic Community.


#12

What if he did not get hit by the truck? Would he have repented? I don’t know. God does know what his living intention would have been. Even if he were asked by God at his death what his intentions would have been do you think he would lie to God?


#13

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I just had a thought. What if somebody was walking along the street and committed a mortal sin (I can’t think of an example, but I’m sure it’s possible) and then walked out into the road and got hit by a truck and killed? If they had no time for regret and acts of perfect contrition then what would be their situation there? If, for example, they were the sort of person who would usually have confessed the sin they had committed - whatever it was - or would have had an act of perfect contrition, given the time, if they were not killed immediately afterwards?
[/quote]

There is a story told about St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars. According to the story, a rather wicked man had died from a fall off his horse, and his widow came to Fr. Vianney because she was concerned for his soul. Now apparently St. John Vianney was given the gift of knowing the state of people’s souls. Therefore, he was able to assure the woman that between saddle and ground, the man had sought reconcilliation with God, and it had been granted.

Is it so far-fetched to imagine that no sudden fall from a horse, no sudden truck in the street, can send a person “destined” for heaven to hell instead? God is truth, justice and mercy, and we may rest assured that He knows the truth of our lives, and we will receive both justice and mercy from Him.


#14

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?
[/quote]

When I was in the Philly DA’s Office, one of my cases was a prosecution of a defendant we nicknamed “German Shepherd Lady,” who, you guessed it, did “lay with a beast,” again and again and again, and sold pictures of herself doing it. After I secured a prison sentence, I thought, How can a person confess something like that in the confessional? If anyone is going to hide a mortal sin in the confessional, THAT’S going to be it! I also thought, How does someone explain that to God?

In any event, we all have sins we would rather hide in making our confession. I think that there is a strong tendency for the most “mortal” mortal sins to be the ones we are most intent on hiding by not confessing them.

In any event, a “mortal sin” is NOT just an “F” on the Midterm Report Card, so that, after your Midterm Report Card reads F,F,F,F,F,F, you work hard and your Final Report Card reads A,A,A,A,A,F.

Instead, a “mortal sin” is a state of alienation from God. If you intentionally “protect” the shame of a mortal sin by not disclosing the mortal sin to the priest, or by minimizing it in a “laundry list” so that it hasn’t REALLY been confessed, you are protecting a state of alienation from God. How can your Act of Contrition in Confession by valid, in such a case? Probably, NO mortal sins were forgiven in those confessions where a mortal sin was intentionally hidden , because they were invalid because the contrition was invalid…


#15

What a wonderful story about St. John Vianney! Thank you for sharing it! What it teaches me is that, while knowing the CCC and the Bible are important ultimately the mystery of God’s infinite Grace and Wisdom must be acknowledged. Your story has reminded me of just that - thank you.


#16

If they had no time for regret and acts of perfect contrition then what would be their situation there?

There is always time for contrition of charity and it need not be explicit, but can be implicit.

Bottom line: anybody dies unrepentent of mortal sin goes to hell.


#17

[quote=need_to_know]Okay, I’m just learning, so here goes…
As I understand it, if I was a confirmed Catholic and died having just one mortal sin not confessed, would I go to Hell because I had not repented it in confession? If not, then why do I need to confess anything in confession?
[/quote]

IF you had just one unconfessed mortal sin you might not go to Hell if you repented and asked God for forgiveness and did not neglect or refuse an opportunity to confess it in Reconciliation.


#18

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