Of all of the Catholic teachings this is the one that I (a recent convert) struggle with the most.
One of the requirements of a mortal sin is that there be “full consent.”
The only times I’ve ever committed a grave sin, I either was under the influence of alcohol or a lot of stress. Thus, arguably, I didn’t have the requisite consent for it to be a mortal sin (although I understand the need to avoid the near occasions of sin by, e.g., remaining sober).
When things are going good for me (i.e., when I’m sober and not under stress), the idea of committing a grave sin is utterly unthinkable. It would be next ti impossible, for example, for me to commit adultery right after attending Mass. It just would never happen in a million years. But if I did commit such an act–with full consent–and didn’t repent, the Church says I go to hell.
Here’s what I struggle with: Since it’s virtually impossible for me to commit such an act, what is it that “saves” me and gets me to Heaven? Is it the not committing the act, or is it my Christian faith that makes committing such an act next to impossible? Protestants would say the latter, obviously. And given my belief that committing a mortal sin (a grave act with full consent) is next to impossible for me (at least I think it is), I have a hard time understanding why they are wrong.
Is it the faith that saves us–i.e., the faith that makes us the kinds of people who can’t imagine committing a mortal sin–or is it the not committing the mortal sin?
“Both,” is what some people will say, and I understand that. Obviously, we must have faith to be saved.
But if the faith prevents the committing of a mortal sin–i.e., prevents us from giving full consent to committing a grave act–isn’t it the faith–alone–that saves us?
I hope I’m being clear.