Venial or Grave / Mortal Sin

I need to know the state of my current soul . About a week and half ago I made confession with a priest . Then this Covid 19 virus came at us like a raging bull . Out of fear for my family I looked for N95 masks everywhere. None to be found online , in stores etc .
But my workplace had many …
Therefore I took 1 pack of disposable masks which are 10
And 3 reusable masks with cartridges . I knew taking these was stealing but did for the lives of my kids and wife .
Please give me your input .

Ps I have not used any of these masks and can return them . Just waiting to see if this pandemic gets worse

Am I in state of Mortal or Grave Sin ???

God Bless and thank you

How did you come up with that?

Stealing is not always a “mortal sin”. It may be venial, it may be grave, and it may be mortal. It depends on the person and the situation. If a person is starving and is driven by hunger to steal some bread to feed himself, or even his family, it’s doubtful that God is going to say, “Mortal sin! You’re going to hell!”

In general, we cannot judge whether someone else’s sin is “mortal” or not; that’s a matter for him and his confessor.
We can perhaps say that someone’s sin is grave, or serious, or a concern. In other words, not venial, or might not be venial. That’s about all we can say.


My input is to stop focusing on yourself and your needs and either return the masks or drop them off at the nearest hospital. They are desperately needed by someone and shouldn’t sit at your house while you determine the state of your soul.


I would return them. The hospital workers need those worse than you and your family do.

We also cannot tell you “the state of your soul”. It’s enough that your conscience is bothering you. I think you know deep in your heart you did wrong and you should return them.

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First of all, there are only two types of sin — mortal and venial. This whole “grave” and “serious” business IMHO obfuscates matters and I don’t care for it. Mortal sin removes the state of grace from your soul and makes you liable to eternal punishment. Venial sin doesn’t. "All iniquity is sin. And there is a sin unto death." (1 John 5:17 DRV)

Stealing admits of parvity of matter. In plain English, not all stealing is mortally sinful. It is a question of “how big was that thing you stole and whose rights did it injure?”. What you stole was worth $100 at most. I bought an N95 mask a few weeks ago (for reasons having nothing to do with COVID-19) and it was about $30. Three would be $90. The pack of masks wouldn’t cost $10.

That’s a real razor’s-edge thing. How big is your workplace? Is it a multi-million-dollar enterprise or a struggling mom-and-pop business? Stealing $500 from a poor widow lady is clearly mortally sinful. Taking a handful of sauce packets from Taco Bell (unless you are buying for the whole family and you need a handful), probably venially sinful.

I’d sneak these things back to work, put them back where you found them, and make an Act of Perfect Contrition (and try to mean it — it can be difficult to be sorry for one’s sins and to remove the fear-of-hell factor from it) until you can get to confession again. As I said, it’s a razor’s-edge thing and, as a layman, I’m not comfortable making that call.


To answer a couple of your questions. Yes the company I work for is a multi Billion dollar company . I took the masks before the public was told they were desperate for health care workers

My advice would be to talk to a priest. Ring yours and see what arrangements he has for hearing confessions. Discuss it with him. It would appear to me you are making pleas in mitigation. That is why you need an expert in these matters, i.e. a priest.

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Just talk to your Priest asap and make a sincere Act of Contrition. Get to Confession as soon as you can.

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Once again, we are not in a position to judge if someone’s sin is “mortal” unless we are his confessor or perhaps know him very, very well personally.
This is a fact.
It does not equate to “giving him peace of mind” over committing a grave sin.

We’re not supposed to sin AT ALL. And we’re certainly not supposed to commit grave, possibly mortal, sins.
It is quite possible to tell someone, “You committed a serious sin” and they should not have peace of mind over that, without using the word “mortal” which is incorrect for us to judge.
It’s also not like we should only worry about mortal sins and anything that doesn’t reach the mortal threshold, we can just relax and not worry about those “little sins”.
All sin is a concern and all sin is to be avoided!


The OP said he feared for his life and the lives of his wife and children. Whether or not this fear diminished his ability to make a free, deliberate choice to steal his for his confessor to determine, not for us.

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It’s not a new issue for this forum, where we get somebody asking, “Did I commit a mortal sin?” about twice a week. The proper answer is always the same, “You need to ask your priest, we cannot determine that for you.”

Or, if the action they’re asking about seems trivial, we can tell them that they may have scruples and need to talk to a priest.

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Saying someone committed a mortal sin is making a pronouncement on the state of their soul.


It sounds like OP has some kind of phobia/anxiety issue, and possibly scrupulosity.

What stands out to me is that you seem very concerned about what kind of sin this is. So, you seem a little scrupulous, but then you stole masks - masks that you don’t even need. I honestly think you have some issues and would be better off with counseling.

Exactly. And to say that is to judge the soul. You cannot know the person’s culpability.

Really? I don’t see it that way, and I wasn’t even a participant in the previous exchanges.


This doesn’t support your position. In fact it disputes it in more or less the same way others here have.

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We can’t tell. See if you can go to Confession and then once confessed, it won’t matter if it was mortal or venial, right? And if you can’t confess due to the restrictions currently operating where you live, make an Act of Perfext Contrition as best you can and intend to confess this sin ASAP.

God judges us with complete justice and with complete mercy. Increase your prayers in this time of trouble.

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But it was equating grave sin (not grave matter) with mortal sin. You stated that stealing is mortal sin when it may or may not be depending on knowledge and consent. By all means, ask your priest.


The reason that people are commenting negatively on what you are saying is that what was once called “objective mortal sin” is now called grave matter because people used to be confused. They would inadvertently eat a hot dog on a Friday and fear going to Hell because “eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin.”

Now we have the classification of grave matter, which, along with the other 2 criteria, constitutes “a mortal sin.”

So the current way of speaking about this is clearer, and we should not confuse people who are already worried by using the old way terminology.


Fear? What Christian should fear? Since that first Easter, no Christian should ever fear. I suggest that you work on your faith and trust in Christ.

You know that you may not do evil so that good “may” come of it. Hospitals badly need those masks so that doctors and nurses may continue to serve the profoundly sick. - and not become infected themselves.

We will know at our judgment what our actions have done. To find that someone died because of a lack of masks - well, I would not want to answer for that.

Oh, and pray for an increase in the virtue of prudence! Use good viral prevention techniques and teach your loved ones if needed. We infect ourselves with our hands, because the virus lives on surfaces we touch. Wash up!

Lastly: turn that blasted media off! They are only pouring fuel on the fire of yet another epidemic: Anxiety.


As others pointed out, for a sin to be mortal, three criteria must be met : grave matter, full knowledge, full consent. Fear may affect consent.

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