Sin of Omission

Hi, what would be a proper penance for this:

If “A” is told by the Holy Spirit to help “B” clean his/her driveway without knowledge of why, and B died as a direct result of A ignoring that tug from the Holy Spirit, what would be a proper penance for that without letting the family know that the Holy Spirit told A to visit B?

Do I understand you correctly…you didn’t help your neighbor shovel his drive and he died doing it…if that the case let it go…can’t help you with yr guilt but who to say B wouldn’t have died while NOT doing something strenuous.

I would honestly bring it to confession and allow the priest to determine the penance. A sin of omission is a real sin, although I don’t know how responsible you could hold yourself for your neighbor’s death. For a sin to be mortal, you need to know the gravity of your decision. If you knew that not shoveling your neighbor’s driveway would have resulted in his death, then you would no doubt have offered your assistance. But you didn’t know that. You made the decision operating on the assumption that it would have been a favor; a nice thing to do. Not a necessity for his survival. Take it to confession to relieve whatever burden you feel, and be at peace.

And if this is all hypothetical, then hypothetically go to confession and be at peace. :slight_smile:

I hadn’t seen this person in 4 years and I live 20 miles away. All of a sudden during the snow storm, as I am picking up my car a couple miles away from his house, the Holy Spirit or this person’s guardian Angel told me in my soul: “This is important, you need to help B to shovel his driveway, today!”

There was a 4 hour gap between the Holy Spirit’s request and the fall.

I went to confession about it and I was told that I have a gift, and not following the Holy Spirit’s request is a sin, but because I didn’t know the urgency of the request, it was not a mortal sin. I was also told that it would be a mortal sin if something similar happens again.

My penance was to act upon such requests in the future.

Sigh – another day (actually another hour), another thread by someone terrified that they are in a state of mortal sin. Good golly, it seems to be an obsession with many around here. CupOJoe, I see 3 possibilities:

  1. You are way, way overly scrupulous; or
  2. You are not accurately relating what happened (surely unintentionally); or
  3. The priest is out of his mind.

OK, so something said to you, “go drive 20 miles in a snowstorm to shovel someone’s driveway.”

Thoughts pop into our heads, surely for many reasons.

Now, what is IMHO insane is the concept that a priest told you that you are not only sinning – but mortally doing so, i.e., consigning yourself to hell, for all eternity – if you don’t act on a though that pops into your head, in the future. Really?

So am I sinning – mortally, severing the relationship between me and God – when I don’t act on each and every thought that pops into my head?

Read the post again, I was 2 miles away when the thought occurred.

So am I sinning – mortally, severing the relationship between me and God – when I don’t act on each and every thought that pops into my head?

If you were confirmed, you have the Holy Spirit in you, if we ignore him by refusing to help people, we separate ourselves from him, just like in the gospel reading this morning.

[quote=“Matthew 25:31-46”]31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
[/quote]

Confession removes mortal sin if we do penance. We can all start fresh and follow Christ with confession.

Cup, I am not suggesting you shouldn’t help people, nor I am suggesting that you ignore your conscience. I am suggesting - in fact, I am saying it outright – that it is theologically unsound for a priest to say to you, “you are committing a mortal sin by ignoring a thought that pops into your head to drive out of your way in a snowstorm to shovel person X’s driveway.”

In fact, it is so far afield that I must respectfully question 1) whether that is really what was said to you, or merely your scrupulous interpretation of it; or 2) whether you phrased your question/confession in such a way to elicit a certain response.

I can say to a priest:

“I have a gift of clairvoyance; foresaw someone dying and I deliberately failed to help him, so I committed a mortal sin, didn’t I”; or I can say

“A though occurred to me to help someone shovel in last week’s snowstorm and I didn’t.”

How you state what occurred is likely to have a large impact on the audience and how they respond.

More importantly, as I said - lots of thoughts occur to us. I’m sure they sometimes come from God. I’m sure they sometimes come from the devil instead. In fact, I think the scariest thoughts are the ones where the devil seduces us into thinking the thoughts come from God! Point is - it is theologically unsound to counsel someone that they would be committing a mortal sin in the future if they ignore a particular thought that pops into their head.

I can come up with a host of ways that it is not only not a sin to go drive across town; but that it is a sin to do so. What if I am physically unable to undertake the task? What if my going across town in a snowstorm endangers my own life, or the lives of others? Is it unsafe to drive? What if I have responsibilities to my family and I should be with them at that time? We can’t necessarily act on every thought that occurs to us, and it is unsound to tell someone they are mortally sinning if they do.

In this case it was “A thought occurred to me to help someone shovel in last week’s snowstorm and I didn’t.”

The priest obviously told me to write down the thought and pray for discernment about it before acting upon a thought.
This is in fact the 4th time something like this happens to me.

  1. I had a nightmare that a friend from school drowned, I ignored it thinking it was just a meaningless dream, and he did 2 months later at the place in the dream.

  2. I had a nightmare that someone I didn’t know at my school was driving too fast and hit a light pole. The next day, there was a announcement on the intercom about the accident.

  3. 48 hours before the Japan earthquake, I had a nightmare of a tsunami hitting the coast of Soma City. When the tsunami hit, and I watch the footage, I couldn’t help but cry bitterly.

If you would have had those experiences I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to ignore instructions either. I told the priest those experiences as well.

I know this seems like a no brainer but
knowing that i have had déjà vus like this, I think the priest was telling me I should write a daily journal, one before bed to document the day to release tensions and be healthy in my sleep. An the other as a dream journal when i wake to train myself to lucid dream to distinguish dreams from premonitions.

If you believe you have a charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit, you need to be under regular spiritual direction (not just confession) and this should be brought to the attention of your bishop. These gifts need discernment.

What you should not do is bring it here to CAF and ask random opinions. First, we are not permitted to comment on private revelation, and inner locutions and dreams would be under that prohibition. Secondly, charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit are out of most people’s experience and advice they give you may not be sound.

Go to your pastor and ask for a referral to a spiritual director with experience on discerning extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Please see Post #10.

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