Question about Mortal Sin and Reconciliation

Someone on this thread said something about making a perfect act of contrition. So, I was actually just quoting someone else. Are you trying to hit a certain number of posts? Because your “do a google search” was definitely not needed. Especially since someone already answered that question for me.

Why do we get so obessed with this whole fear of comitting mortal sin? If you love God with all your heart and truly sorry for sins than why worry? At one point we are going to have to trust God. This mentality is not healthy as just puts us in a state of fear and depression.

I’m new at all of this. Since it is new to me, it tends to get confusing for me. I want to know so I won’t do it or fix it when I do. :smiley:

A person with a properly formed conscience knows the difference between trusting God and presuming on His Mercy. A person seeking to properly form his conscience rightly seeks answers to these questions.

Very true but God does not call us to discern for long periods of time to determine whether that act of mine was a mortal or venial sin. We can take it to an extreme.

Certainly true. Take any doubts to your confessor, and trust that whatever he binds on Earth will be bound in Heaven. Then abandon that sin to the infinite Mercy of God and be done with it forever. Over time, regular confession with a good confessor is the best way to properly form your conscience.


Not quite the same thing.

Most Acts of Contrition simply say, in essence, ‘I am sorry for my sins and will try to sin no more’.

Perfect contrition (and Acts thereof) requires something to the effect of ‘I am sorry for my sins above all because I love God, and I promise to confess as soon as I am reasonably able and to try to sin no more’.

See the difference? The first Act has no mention of the all-important requirements that you be sorry above all out of love for God and resolve to confess as soon as you can.

I am aware of the difference, as I explained the difference above before you first commented. The fact is that one does not need to use any particular formula or use any magic words in order to make an act of perfect contrition. The intention is sufficient. Of course, formulating the intention verbally is helpful, which is why every child is (or should be) taught the traditional Act of Contrition, but it is not necessary.

I will say that I was wrong to say the words don’t make any difference. One SHOULD use a formula that explicitly states that one intends to make an act of perfect contrition; it is better to do so than not to do so. But it is possible to make an act of perfect contrition even if one does not say it explicitly.

He does not ‘pay’ for sins confessed that have been absolved. Theoretically he is only punished for the sin not confessed. Realistically though we would not know what will happen after death. Having gone to Confession is not always a guarantee that one’s sins are absolved, one has to make a good Confession, regret, penance and restitution whichever apply. Not going to Confession just before death does not necessarily mean that the sin is not forgiven, for a person can make direct Confession to God in the circumstance.

What’s more important is our faith in the Sacrament where sins are forgiven and to live a holy life whenever possible to avoid eternal damnation.

Here are some church teachings that help from Ott’s Fundmental’s of Catholic Dogma.

  1. The punishment of the damned is proportioned to each one’s guilt. (Sent. communis.)

This would indicate that there are degrees of pain in hell depending on the guilt, how many and how devious the total number of mortal sins there are. For the number and type would play into calculating the guilt. Which means that it would be incorrect to think that after one mortal sin that those mortal/venial sins that followed are not important.

  1. The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory. (De fide.)

This would indicate that all sins, venial and mortal, which have been forgiven have temporal or purgatorial punishment administered for each and every one. This would include forgiven mortal sins, forgiven venial sins, and those venial sins which have not been forgiven.

In confession, how much of temporal/purgatorial punishment is removed by the sacrament, or by the penance, is unknown. It seems that some, or maybe all, may be forgiven. But this is an unknown. The disposition of sorrow would seem to have a bearing on this, as well as the determination to reform. But in the end, we do not know how much purgatorial punishment remains to be done.

Outside of confession, alms/charity, prayer, fasting, would make up for the wrong we have done and diminish this punishment. Also the church grants indulgences for certain prayers, which means a forgiveness of some or all purgatorial punishment depending on the usual requirements of the sacraments. These indulgences and other good actions may also be used for those of our friends and relatives already in purgatory. And this is a great blessing for us who love them.

James 5:20
“…he who causes a sinner to be brought back from his misguided way, will save his soul from death, and will COVER A MULTITUDE OF SIN.”

Bringing back a sinner is accomplished by praying for them as well as in other ways.

All this knowledge we should use for helping ourselves and for helping others, and it is the reason the church teaches us these things, to help us, to make it better, and to grant more forgiveness, and to encourage good acts of charity and prayer. This will give us the knowledge to prepare us for what lies ahead so we may enter his kingdom quicker and more safely.

Just a few thoughts.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit