Think I committed mortal sin, but not sure?

Shortly after receiving absolution today (I am not able to go again until after Mass tomorrow morning, or possible Monday) I got into a bit of a spat on the road…Someone drove at a terrible pace on the freeway almost causing me to miss my exit…No matter how I affected my own speed, they remained firmly in my blind spot and my exit was fast approaching.

I said some expletives I shouldn’t have said (NON-religious ones, I do believe) and started honking like crazy. Insulted the other driver from within the confines of my own car, etc. Quite suddenly I realized this was in near mortal sin territory and abruptly stopped. I spent an hour trying to figure out whether this constitutes mortal sin or not and I couldn’t figure it out.

Do I partake of Communion tomorrow, or no?

Please don’t accuse me of being scrupulous. It’s a question being presented in good faith, nothing more. Also, is there a distinction between consent and awareness in regard to the three qualifiers for mortal sin? (For me, I am aware that intense personal anger is of course a mortal sin, but in the moment the awareness of such a fact is remote, as I am spurred on by an overwhelming of emotion)

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Where did you get this idea?

Also, how is getting momentarily angry at a bad driver “intense”? It just sounds like an everyday annoyance of life.
“Intense personal anger” to me is more like when somebody is really mad at their ex for months or years and fantasizes about beating them up, that sort of thing.


You’re sure that yelling at bad drivers isn’t a mortal sin? Perhaps I need to be educated on what sort of anger constitutes a mortal sin. Obviously the desire to harm someone is bad. But up to that point, what is there? Isn’t repeatedly honking at someone similar to verbal assault? It’s aggression is certainly present.

Thanks for the thoughtful response!

I stop short of being a confessor, but I really do not think your anger rose to the level of mortally sinful matter. As a rule of thumb, a person who is trying to be a good, faithful Catholic — as you obviously are — cannot accuse themselves of mortal sin, if they have to spend an hour parsing the incident in their mind. I would just make a good act of contrition and forget about it.

American driver’s licenses are so easy to get, and there are so many people out here on these roads who have no business behind the wheel of a car at all, that these incidents are bound to happen. As I always say, just drive as though everyone else on the road is a moron — it’s called “defensive driving”. And as far as these incidents, I have found in my own experience, that it actually takes a few seconds for it to “soak in” that you had that close of a call. Speaking only for myself, my forearms get numb. But it’s a delayed reaction. Dropping bombs of piquant commentary is probably part of that reaction too.


The elements of mortal sin are

  1. grave matter
  2. committed with full knowledge and awareness that the act is sinful and is grave matter, and
  3. committed with deliberate and complete consent.

Momentary emotions like anger generally are not “grave matter” because an emotion is a natural human reaction. It’s what you do in response to the emotion that makes it a sin or not.

In this case, feeling the emotion of anger at someone who frustrates you is not the sin, especially if you took a deep breath and tried to set it aside.
But honking your horn angrily and yelling at the other driver, in other words being impatient with them, might be a sin.
Or if you gave in to your anger and sat around thinking how angry you were for hours on end and wishing all kinds of bad things to happen to the other driver.
A grave, possibly mortal sin would be something like getting so angry you try to physically harm the other driver, like run them off the road, or aim a gun at them.

Thank you. Grave matter is one of the hardest qualifiers for me to understand. It always sounds so subjective.

There is such a thing as rash anger. Even justifiable anger. It’s not done with full intent. If even one of the 3 criteria of Mortal sin is absent–then no mortal sin has occurred. Yes, profanity is bad, and it’s nowhere in God’s dictionary. Ask help from St. Francis de Sales (who had a rash temper, and OVER TIME, cooperating with God’s Grace, he became known as “the gentle Saint”).

Being in traffic with a moron is indeed difficult. I had someone tailgate me yesterday. Finally I didn’t get upset (after MANY years of failure!) There is a natural concern for your own safety. Please give yourself a break and pray for the person and others who drive that way. Take care. God loves you INFINITELY.

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1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

There isn’t a Commandment that says “Thou shalt not get angry.” Jesus himself got angry at the people engaging in commerce in the temple.

Having said that, anger is a fault that we should all work on, because being angry can lead us to do one of the grave things. We should strive to become more calm and patient and control our tempers.


You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22)

A verse like this makes me inclined to think such actions as mine constitute mortal.

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It would be best for you not to be interpreting Scripture on your own. Instead, follow the Catechism.
And if you are still confused you need to discuss with your priest.

Jesus is talking about carrying grudges or engaging in patterns of behavior, not having a momentary frustration that one sets aside. He is also noting that small sins are nevertheless sins. He is NOT saying that calling someone “You fool!” means you’re automatically in MORTAL sin. All sins make us “liable to the hell of fire”, it doesn’t mean all sins no matter how minor are mortal sins.


You & I must be kindred spirits because I was wondering the same thing yesterday.

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Thank you! I had wondered whether calling another “fool” was damning for me. I have a lot of scrupulously…and need to Trust Jesus completely. It has been a learning process indeed. St. Thérèse :rose: of Lisieux has been of immense, IMMENSE help.


So assuming that this sin isn’t grave, and that I have been forthcoming (I have), should I receive Communion tomorrow?

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