Unsure of mortal sin

I am unsure of whether or not I committed a mortal sin. What should I do?

Talk to your priest.

All of the priests that I know are either very liberal or do not speak English very well.

Whether it is mortal or not, go to confession.

There are three criteria by which a sin is determined to be mortal.

It must be a grave matter.
It must be done knowingly.
It must be done of your own will.

By definition, the poster’s ignorance of its mortality would negate its mortality, would it not?

Either war, go to confession; can’t go often enough anyway.

Not necessarily, if the ignorance is through one’s own fault, or if someone has convinced themselves they have mitigating circumstances by suppressing their conscience, etc.

Anyway, as for the OP, leave the judgment up to God whether something is mortal or not–we cannot declare whether our sins have damned us in His judgment. What we can do is objectively know whether we have committed a gave sin (even if you don’t know, confess it anyway). If you commit a grave sin and are repentant, make an act of contrition and go to confession as soon as possible and do not receive communion until such grave sin is cleansed from your conscience.

To restate what Marsha has said if it is #1 wrong, #2 you know it is wrong #3 you do it anyway.

Not exactly, Mirror, but close.

#1 if it is seriously wrong.

For example:
“Does this dress make me look fat?”
“Oh, no. It is very flattering to you.” LIE}
as opposed to saying under oath, “I saw him kill that woman.” when in fact you weren’t even there.

#2 you understand in both heart and mind that it is very wrong.

#3 knowing it is seriously wrong you choose to do it.

For example:
You are pregnant and against your will you are forced to have an abortion. Yes, you had an abortion, yes it is a grave matter, yes you knew it was seriously wrong, but it was neither your intention nor your desire to have it.

Of course, this allows for more subjectivity than many are comfortable with. If I believe that something is a grave matter I may commit a mortal sin even if it really isn’t grave matter. Or if my priest is a liberal pseudo Catholic and he doesn’t form my conscience properly I might do something that SHOULD be a mortal sin, but #2 and #3 don’t apply because I don’t know it is very wrong and choose to do it.

The Legion of Mary had a retreat several years ago and the retreat master told the attendees that there were only three mortal sins: abortion, apostasy and I forget what the third one was. OF course that isn’t true, there are many more mortal sins than that and in fact there are times when abortion and apostasy are NOT mortal sins. In this day and age in the U.S. many women and some doctors do not know that it is a grave matter and wrong. Also, if you genuinely and ernestly believe that it is God’s will that you leave the Catholic Church and join the First Holiness Church of the Jumped Up Dancing Saints or whatever, it is not only NOT a mortal sin, it would be a sin for you NOT to do what you believe is God’s will. (Naturally, we hope that someone would more perfectly form your conscience so that you would not make that mistake.)

The retreat master’s BIGGEST mistake was that he made that remark at the first conference of the retreat on Friday night and as a result lost his entire audience. They felt from that point on that they could not trust anything he said.

I was just putting it in simple terms that is all. I understand what you have put, just trying to make ti simple for the OP who seemed to be a bit confused.

:blush: Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest that you didn’t understand.

In my experience, many people (particularly those who are young either in years or in their faith) want a list – this is mortal, that is venial. I got the impression that the OP might fall in that category. So I wanted the matter to be carefully explained.

I grew up a Seventh Day Adventist they considered many things to be sin and there was only one kind of sin – Mortal. So for the first 30 years of my life, just about everything I did put me on the road to Hell. That is another reason why I wanted to be sure that the OP understood what was mortal and what wasn’t.

Of course, now that I consider the matter, I suppose a paragraph should be inserted on how habitual venial sins can become mortal and their dulling effect on the conscience, etc.

Here is my attempt to put it in simple terms:

Confession is good for the soul – go early, go often. Go to confession regularly not ONLY when a mortal sin has been committed. The sacrament of confession not only forgives your sins, it also helps you to avoid sin in the future.

Go to Confession.

If you’re unsure whether or not you committed a mortal sin, then by definition you didn’t.

If your conscience bothers you, go to confession anyway. (Even if your priest doesn’t understand English very well, the absolution is still valid.)

God writes straight with crooked lines. Do you think God would leave you without any priestly guidance that you could trust? Pray to the Holy Spirit and then trust your priest. It is not your job as a young Catholic to evaluate the reliability of every priest you meet. When you seek the truth with a sincere heart and obey trustingly, you will not be responsible if an error is made, and God will be pleased with your efforts.


What is the definition of liberal? That means different things to different people. A “liberal” priest is still a priest and has the power to absolve sin. You are confessing your sins to God, after all. The Sacrament is not dependent on the “liberalness” or “traditionalness” of the priest. Go to Confession, ask forgiveness, receive absolution, do penance, and get it off your conscience. If it’s a mortal sin, you will be forgiven; if it’s a venial sin, you will be forgiven; if it’s not a sin at all, you will have benefited from the grace of the Sacrament.

To put it in its simplist terms, conservative means orthodox and liberal means heterodox.

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