Unkind Thought and Mortal Sin

Hi everyone!

I was speaking with a family member today and I had an unkind thought come into my mind about them along the lines of “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” and with the idea that they haven’t really come to their convictions on their own, but have gone along with other people’s beliefs on it.

I remember resisting it, but there was also a few moments where I think I agreed with it in that kind of mean judging way with a smirk (you can picture the kind of expression I’m talking about).

I didn’t say anything to them, but just had that thought. After I noticed I had agreed with it, I think I remember trying to resist it because I could tell it was unkind.

I felt bad about it afterwards and asked God to forgive me and lead me to be humble and kind.

But I’m afraid I committed mortal sin by accepting the thought for a few moments.

Did I?

I’m wondering if I should receive the Eucharist tomorrow or not because of this.

I’ve had this problem before with the same family member. But I find that I can be judgmental in my thoughts in general and I am not happy with it.

Wouldn’t mind any advice on how to be less judgmental of others too.

Thank you for your help.

Someone once opined to me that thoughts are temptations not sins.

Hey Rosebud,

Thanks for your reply.

My understanding of it was that a mere thought popping into your head is not a sin, but the entertaining of the thought is.

That’s what I’m afraid of here.

I feel I entertained the though for a little bit, but then kind of caught myself and I think I remember resisting it because I could tell it was very unkind.

I don’t know if that would mean it was venial, and not mortal.

It would most likely be venial.

In order for anything to be a mortal sin, it must meet three conditions:

  1. It must be of serious matter, or believe it is of serious matter (in this case, if you were thinking badly of God or a consecrated person.)

  2. You must have full knowledge and reflection of what you are doing and that it is a mortal sin.

  3. You must consent to it with 100% of your free will.

If you were unsure if it was a mortal sin or not, or if you did not consent to it with 100% of your free will, then it is NOT a mortal sin.

:hmmm: In my understanding…

You stopped yourself from maintaining pleasure resulting from the uncharitable thought. Since you made a conscious effort to restrain yourself, whatever venial sin you committed might have already been repented for.


Thanks for coming on the thread BlueCichlid and Faxero,

And just to let you all know: I am a new Catholic and still trying to understand the difference between mortal and venial sins.

I find that determining the sinfulness of thoughts can be difficult. I’m inclined to think it did not meet all three of those requirements, since I don’t think I knew whether it was grave or not when it happened. I just knew it was unkind, and my resisting it after I realized I had entertained it makes me think perhaps it wasn’t mortal.

Faxero, I think you may have something there. If you entertain a bad thought for a second, but then realize the badness of it and resist it, I feel like that would have less culpability than just full on unreservedly entertaining it. Right?

This website, which looks like a reliable Catholic site, has a good article on thoughts and sin. Granted, the article is about sexual thoughts, but the same idea applies I believe:


I feel like what happened is the Scenario 2 that he describes, which would be venial.

I just don’t want to fool myself into thinking I didn’t sin if I did.

If anything, it’s venial. Pray and talk to God about it. The next time you go to Church ask for God’s mercy and acknowledge it during the Penitential Rite. Receive the Eucharist and put it behind you.

God Bless

Thinking something like “They don’t know what they’re talking about” would hardly qualify as grave matter. Be at peace. :slight_smile:

When I have thoughts like this, it is usually generated from my impatience and perhaps my pride. But for me, even if I entertain these thoughts for some time after the conversation, I am confident that at best these thoughts constitute venial sin.

Now, if I entertain those thoughts and then start sharing them with others (gossip, as in “So-and-So has no idea what they’re talking about!”), I am definitely moving towards mortal sin. This can absolutely become grave matter, depending on with whom I am speaking, consequences of my sharing, etc.

There is no handbook that can tell you “this is a venial sin” and “that is a mortal sin.” Grave matter is not always black and white. But remember that God is love, and He is not standing over you with a clipboard and a pen just waiting to catch you in a mistake.

It’s beautiful that you are seeking to live a holy life. God will absolutely guide you on this journey!

Meanwhile, as you are a new Catholic, maybe bring one question per confession about the seriousness of one sin. This will help you grow in your understanding of holiness (while not holding up the confession lines for those behind you).

If you find you just have too many questions at present, arrange a meeting with your pastor to discuss this at length.

God bless you abundantly!

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Maybe this family member doesn’t know what they are talking about…so you are only thinking the truth! :wink:

I would worry about real sins. If you feel unworthy to receive Communion, then don’t. Ask the priest in Confession, next week & then receive next Sunday. :thumbsup:

Not grave matter. Not a mortal sin.

Hey guys,

Thanks for your replies. I ended up receiving the Eucharist this morning because I figured it was probably venial.

Also, I know the advice for scrupulous people (which I am) is to receive the Eucharist if you are in doubt as to whether something is a mortal sin. See this link saying that:


I appreciate your feedback - and I think it’s an issue with pride since I believe my family member to be heartfelt in their concerns.

How would the thought be uncharitable: “They don’t know what they’re talking about.” In fact the person may not. Was there a desire to speak rudely, harm physically or to ruin the reputation?

Hi Vico,

The issue is because I do think they knew what they were talking about, but in that moment I entertained the prideful judgmental thought that they didn’t.

I could tell in myself that it was not a charitable thought when it happened. I could feel that evil smirk pride feeling.

But was it true or not? If it was not true, Tobit 4:14: “Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words.”

Summa Theologica > Second Part of the Second Part > Question 162
Article 1. Whether pride is a sin?

Reply to Objection 1. Pride [superbia] may be understood in two ways. [LIST]*]First, as overpassing [supergreditur] the rule of reason, and in this sense we say that it is a sin. *]Secondly, it may simply denominate “super-abundance”; in which sense any super-abundant thing may be called pride: and it is thus that God promises pride as significant of super-abundant good. [/LIST]Hence a gloss of Jerome on the same passage (Isaiah 61:6) says that “there is a good and an evil pride”; or “a sinful pride which God resists, and a pride that denotes the glory which He bestows.”


Hey Vico,

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. Who knows to what extent someone is saying something because they were going along with what others had said? Or that they have studied enough to be truly saying their own conviction?

I’m inclined to just leave it as I allowed myself to entertain an unkind thought and I wasn’t happy about it afterwards.

I think the people above in the comments made sense in their estimations of it.

I appreciate your concern.

Well, there is one key idea, if it was a sin, was it grave and fully consented to, vs not grave and passing thought with feeling, then rejected upon recognition.

Look at the Baltimore Catechism for mortal sin:

Q. 282. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?

A. To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: 1.a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

Q. 283. What do we mean by “grievous matter” with regard to sin?

A. By “grievous matter” with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.

Q. 284. What does “sufficient reflection and full consent of the will” mean?

A. “Sufficient reflection” means that we must know the thought, word or deed to be sinful at the time we are guilty of it; and “full consent of the will” means that we must fully and willfully yield to it.

Q. 285. What are sins committed without reflection or consent called?

A. Sins committed without reflection or consent are called material sins; that is, they would be formal or real sins if we knew their sinfulness at the time we committed them. Thus to eat flesh meat on a day of abstinence without knowing it to be a day of abstinence or without thinking of the prohibition, would be a material sin.

I’m not sure if it would constitute a grave matter.

I think I accepted it for a couple seconds, but then caught myself and resisted it because I felt it was uncharitable.

I have been struggling pretty badly lately with scrupulosity since becoming Catholic not even a month ago.

It was been tough. It’s hard for me to know what is mortal and venial sin.

That sounds about normal for a thwarted temptation.

I don’t see why that would be a sin.

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