Told my sins were not grave?

Hello, CAF!

I come to you all once again because the Lord and Holy Spirit truly guide plenty of you with helping those of us who need it most.

I’m a little troubled today because at confession, I gave my list of sins to the pastor, and concluded that i was sorry for “Receiving the Holy Eucharist in a state of mortal sin”. His face actually seemed a little perturbed when I made that statement, because he said that none of my sins were considered “mortal”. He classified it as this: a sin is usually grave matter under “the Big Three” which are 1) murder, 2) apostasy and 3) adultery.

Now, I’m troubled by what he told me because one of my sins was that of lust, particularly self inflicted acts of impurity. I have brought that sin to confession many times as well as having received the Eucharist without asking penance for that sin. So, I’m actually a tad confused. It may have been that I said that the sin is a “small struggle with acts of impurity” (since it happens at a frequency of about once a month). Maybe that triggered him to find it as too much of a habit to consider it a grave matter.

That also made me a little nervous, because then I was thinking that I may be scrupulous for confessing that sin and the other sins I had told him about! Unfortunately, this confession gave me a lot more confusion and disturbance than it did peace.

Any help you can all give me is much appreciated!
God Bless!

Hi Blake!

Well the act is indeed grave, as according to the CCC:

**2352 **By *masturbation *is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.” To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

I’m not familiar with the term “The Big Three”, I have never heard of that before.

Perhaps you could flatly state the sin next time you confess and that will clear things up? Or if you’re trying to be delicate, maybe try saying “I was impure with myself?”

If you had a confusing conversation with someone, wouldn’t it make sense to speak to that person directly, instead asking the opinions of people who were not there?

You need to sit down with this priest and bring up your concerns and questions. It may or may not be in the confessional but maybe make a separate appointment.

There will be lots of opinions about this, some helpful and some not so helpful. If the priest said something confusing to you, you need to get clarification from him. If you were not clear with the priest, you need to do that in future confessions.

There are many many “grave matters”. Maybe he was giving an example of those…

(those are some of the gravest -and for which particularly large penance was given in the early Church)

See the Catechism etc.

Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. Which sins must be confessed?


All grave sins not yet confessed, which a careful examination of conscience brings to mind, must be brought to the sacrament of Penance. The confession of serious sins is the only ordinary way to obtain forgiveness.

(note grave sin = mortal sin-BC)

  1. When does one commit a mortal sin?


One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.

  1. When does one commit a venial sin?


One commits a venial sin, which is essentially different from a mortal sin, when the matter involved is less serious or, even if it is grave, when full knowledge or complete consent are absent. Venial sin does not break the covenant with God but it weakens charity and manifests a disordered affection for created goods. It impedes the progress of a soul in the exercise of the virtues and in the practice of moral good. It merits temporal punishment which purifies.

Depending on what was said etc (giving him the benefit the doubt of course) -or even simply because it would be better for you.

It may be that you would do well to go see a different Priest.

(and note too just in case it was not noted: mortal sins (grave sins) would need of course to be confessed in number and kind …)

You confessed.

Your sins were forgiven.

Keep up the struggle.

You have confessed your sins. You have been forgiven.

It is always important to listen to your confessor.

If you have a question, it is best to speak with the priest himself.

Your priest is the one to listen to.

Especially if you deal with being scrupulous, you want your help to come from your priest / confessor / spiritual advisor.

It becomes easy to ask people on the internet, but you want your help to come from the priest.

You can tell him all the advise you got from the internet and that what you hear from him seems different. You can tell him you are confused. He will help you.

May you be at peace.

Yeah, I had the same problem, once. It is not my permanent Church but one I was attending due to where I was/am still living for another few weeks.

I said, “I need to have confession with the priest before the Mass so I can receive the Eucharist” and the sister said to me, after explaining that the priest wasn’t able to on that day, “No, no, receive the Eucharist, did you kill anyone or rob from a poor person? This is what mortal sin is.”

What! C’mon now! Of course, I don’t know what your sins you confessed were, nor am I asking. Perhaps he had reason to believe that, indeed, they were not grave sins. But I know that mine were at that time, because the Church had declared them grave, I had done them with full knowledge and no one had a gun to my head.

I’d suggest one thing that will help you in the future is greater clarity in what you confess. Be as clear and direct as you can. If you masturbated, say “masturbation”. And say how many times. This will remove any ambiguity over the exact sin and frequency of it.

Some priests are more or less conservative and so will give different advice in confession. There is no problem in trying to find a priest who you think understands you well and you are confident will help you address sins on an ongoing basis. One who dismisses mastubration as not being grave matter (not to say that’s what the priest meant here) will not be a good confessor for someone who wants to stop masturbating. Conversely, a conservative priest who understands the seriousness of this sin, but can get to know you and assess your culpability in your ongoing struggle, will be a good confessor to help you work through the issue, including advice on when to receive Eucharist and when to abstain.

It does seem strange, but you confessed and recieved absolution so I wouldn’t worry about it.

I’ll say this quickly

  1. trust your confessor, he spend 6+ years in seminary formation he knows what he is talking about.
  2. if you are not sure what your confessor said is correct talk to another priest, that you trust. IF you find out the priest is in grave error go talk to him about it. DON’T GO BEHIND IS BACK AND ACCUSE HIM OF SOMETHING.
  3. Don’t trust the words of some anonymous person on a message board over the word of a priest.

I will say this even quicker…

While certainly giving the benefit of the doubt to the Priest.

Priests do not always have a good back ground (not every Priests education in the past (70’s and 80’s) is well – from what the Church Teaches)

Priests make mistakes and some well…are are off in left field.

So one may need to check something out in a good way.

And he is not his “confessor” he is a Priest who he went to confession to this time.

I think my advice still applies

I understand some priest had poor education but we can’t count out all priest who are of the age of 70s and 80s.

if someone has doubts about the advice of a priest than go talk to another priest and ask questions. My main point of posting this is trust God’s priests and not an random poster on a website.

As does my post in response :slight_smile:

Yes of course --I am not saying all Priests from that period are off their rocker! Rather I gave a time period to stress that it is not a universal problem but that some had poor formation due to the period and place.

Another Priest --yes that can be good. It is likely the person was seeing to “test” his need to do so by seeing what others thought. But it is true that a random poster on a website may not be the best source --but it is also true that they may have the background needed and can point them in the right direction -like going to see a different Priest…or documents from the Church etc.

Yes I just like to emphasize the importance of talking to priests.

Sure. of course

Yes of course. And certain things need to be dealt with in confession :slight_smile:

(Like if one realizes he did not make his confession of mortal sins…)

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