Saved at noon, damned at 2?


I have been concerned lately about soteriology. Particularly, the way that discrete and particular acts can radically switch your soteriological status.

Let’s say that someone has a habit of (pick one): masturbation/ or smoking marijuana (although we’ll assume her not to be addicted in a clinical sense)/ or shoplifting/ or gambling.

Now, at least one of the above is definitely a grave matter. Let’s say that after committing the act, immediately after, the person repents. And within an hour or two, or a day or two, or a week, she commits the sin again. She immediately repents again. And falls again.

Within the space of a month she has switched from being saved to damned to saved to damned…it seems a little ridiculous. Now, do we assume that the repentance was not genuine? Do we not quickly come to a place of “once saved always saved” where if you fall, “then clearly your conversion did not count.”

Do we say, “Oh, well, habit mitigates whether the sin is mortal.” Does it though? Simple habit?

I am no fan of fundamental option theory, but I am troubled.


Yes a single mortal sin changes the reality of the persons state…they have chosen death and will be in that state until they are restored by Christ to true life (via perfect contrition prior to confession and/or confession).

(remember that mortal sin is not something happens by accident…and is no light matter…there is grave matter (such as lust), full knowledge and then complete (deliberate) consent…now can there be that which reduces ones culpability where one has not committed a mortal sin - has not given that deliberate consent? Sure there can be. Ones confessor can assist in judging such…though if such is the case for a particular person … that of course is no license to sin…)

One is either in light or darkness.

Either living or dead.

Either in true life or in spiritual death.

Thanks be to God for the life we are offered in Christ and the mercy of his giving us that grace to live again…especially in the great Sacrament of Confession where the blood of Christ washes us and we are restored to that true life.


One does not “damn oneself” at 2…though for while there is human life - there is the possibility of repentance and returning to life…


So, to you guys, you see no problem in the idea that we, during the course of a day, could rapidly vacillate between perdition and no relationship with God, and salvation?


I did not see your point about deliberate consent. That explains things.


Such is possible. Yes.

But if that is happening…that would be rather unusual and there can be thus possibility that the persons freedom is impeded…and the culpability may be reduced where for that person is not culpable of mortal sin due to diminishment of the voluntary character of the act. A confessor can advise…



Well, if the persons freedom is actually impeded, then it isn’t happening.


Committing mortal sin?

Yes ones freedom may be impeded to the point where there was not a mortal sin committed.


“If in this life, it is difficult to persevere, it is possible, nevertheless, oftentimes to begin again…”

  • Pope Saint Leo the Great

Falling into sin never nullifies sincere repentance. We should be thankful that God offers us His grace after we have made such poor use of it, bearing in mind that salvation is always offered to us. If we make use of the abundant means, we will be saved.

There is no fluctuation between salvation and damnation; salvation is for those who die in God’s friendship, and damnation is for those who have spurned mercy. It may happen that we fall often; what is important is that we hasten to the Sacred Heart as soon as we are touched by God’s grace (as Our Lord said to Sr. Josefa). Acting in this way we will soon find that we commit far fewer mortal sins - if any.


Nope, I have no problem with that because that is the reality of the situation. Ultimately, damnation is the act of choosing yourself over God. That is a decision which can be made in an instant which has eternal consequences; as is the decision to repent and seek absolution.


ProdglArchitect, you have to see the idea, that your identity at the most fundamental level is dramatically bouncing back and forth between two cosmically and radically different options over the course of a day (a saint of the church, and a reprobate who’s annihilated your relationship with God), is just untrue.

You have to recognize that this idea is not doctrine. Even Bookcat seems to recognize that a situation which would appear as such a vacillation probably implies a diminution in freedom.

People can change their soteriologic status with particular and discrete acts - that’s doctrine. But the idea that people (and it’d be a LOT of, if not most people) are bouncing back and forth in this status over the course of hours because of sins they’ve long struggled with, just seems silly. Think how often they must go from Jekyll to Hyde and back; and yet, somehow struggling between Jekyll and Hyde is not an identity, only total Jekyll and total Hyde. And they switch like a light. This kind of misunderstanding is what made people turn away from the manualists and Neo-Scholastics.

Look, our lives and our quotidian choices reverberate through eternity, and each of them matters, but the idea that we are toggling like that sounds as though salvation is totally forensic, just on different criteria than Luther, and it grates just as hard with Catholic anthropology as does fundamental option theory at the other extreme.


Can a person have such struggle and fall and return and fall and return and fall and return even in single day? Yes I would think it is possible. For we have free will and we can turn away into mortal sin by it or turn back to God and seek mercy.

A person experiencing such is in need of a good confessor who can assist them in particular. And if there is something that is lessening their freedom then he can help there too.

In the case though were a particular person is struggling with actual mortal sin that much in a day - that does not make salvation forensic. It is simply that the reality of the person being in grace or not in grave…in life or not in life.

And that would not be a case of Jekyll and Hyde - for in that case as I recall such a change was not voluntary each time. If there is actual mortal sin - it is voluntary.

As I noted above - yes ones freedom could be diminished to the point where a mortal sin is not committed (not a license to do it of course).

But note too that just because there can be an element that effects things - ones can struggle with quasi-compulsive sins which are still mortal. Still with full knowledge and complete consent. And in such a case where the person too is seeking to follow Christ quite consciously faithfully - they will with grace quickly return to him.


Let us remember Jesus of Nazareth is The Lamb and the Good Shepherd …

"Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Someone might think: but how can a lamb, which is so weak, a weak little lamb, how can it take away so many sins, so much wickedness? With Love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased being a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. He was there, among the people, healing everyone, teaching, praying. Jesus, so weak, like a lamb. However, he had the strength to take all our sins upon himself, all of them.

“But, Father, you don’t know my life: I have a sin that…, I can’t even carry it with a truck…”.

Many times, when we examine our conscience, we find some there that are truly bad! But he carries them. He came for this: to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first in the heart. Perhaps each one of us feels troubled in his heart, perhaps he experiences darkness in his heart, perhaps he feels a little sad over a fault… He has come to take away all of this, He gives us peace, he forgives everything. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away sin”: he takes away sin, it’s root and all! This is salvation Jesus brings about by his love and his meekness. And in listening to what John the Baptist says, who bears witness to Jesus as the Saviour, our confidence in Jesus should grow. Many times we trust a doctor: it is good, because the doctor is there to cure us; we trust in a person: brothers and sisters can help us. It is good to have this human trust among ourselves. But we forget about trust in the Lord: this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord, let us trust in the Lord! “Lord, look at my life: I’m in the dark, I have this struggle, I have this sin…”; everything we have: “Look at this: I trust in you!”. And this is a risk we must take: to trust in Him, and He never disappoints."

~Pope Francis

"Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who goes in search of lost sheep, who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them (cf. Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:4-7; Jn 10:2-4, 11-18). He is the way, the right path that leads us to life (cf. Jn 14:6), the light that illuminates the dark valley and overcomes all our fears (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).

He is the generous host who welcomes us and rescues us from our enemies, preparing for us the table of his body and his blood (cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25); Lk 22:19-20) and the definitive table of the messianic banquet in Heaven (cf. Lk 14:15ff; Rev 3:20; 19:9). He is the Royal Shepherd, king in docility and in forgiveness, enthroned on the glorious wood of the cross (cf. Jn 3:13-15; 12:32; 17:4-5)."

~Pope Benedict XVI


"I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!

Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.

Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders.

No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!"

~ Pope Francis

EVANGELII GAUDIUM,_a_joy_which_is_shared


"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

  • Matthew 18:21-22


Or, look at it this way:
Because of our wonderous and marvelous God, we can be Damned at 2 and saved at 4.



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