Just when I think I’ve got mortal/venial sin figured out: grave matter, full knowlege, full consent of the will…I read something else in Catholic theology that confuses me. Now I DID know that if you commit a venial sin, but you THINK at the time that it is a mortal sin, and you do it anyway, you become guilty of mortal sin. That makes sense to me b/c you were WILLING to commit a mortal sin. Now I’ve read something else:
Q. 292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?
A. Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.
Now, I understand the second part of that. If you steal a bottle of aspirin from the dollar store, it’s probably a venial sin; however, if you intend to kill yourself by taking the whole bottle of pills, it becomes a mortal sin b/c you’re intending to use the pills to commit mortal sin.
But what about the issue of contempt?
Let’s say I was watching Alfred Hitchcock mystery program, and I felt some excitement at a murder that was committed, and I kept thinking back to it, and I liked the scene. Now, I am not going to commit murder in real life, and these are not real people…they are characters. And so it’s a venial sin, but I realize that this needs to be put in check so that it doesn’t develop into hatred or a love of violence. So I realize it’s “just” a venial sin, and so I let it come back into my mind briefly several more times. Then I read about the “defiant contempt for God or His law”, and I realize that I am probably angry inside–angry at God or angry about my ocd, and somehow my anger is coming out in enjoying these thoughts. So perhaps it did rise to the level of mortal sin. But then I thought, “No, this shows a lack of love for God and perhaps some pride (presuming that God would forgive me of this venial sin), but I don’t think I was doing it out of hatred for God or b/c I thought ‘Thou shalt not murder’ is a bad rule.” But even after I realized this, I thought back to the movie scene, partially to examine my conscience, and partially because it still appealed to me. NOW does it rise to the level of mortal sin? I guess what I am getting at is…does this rise to the level of needing confession or can an act of contrition and communion suffice? ALL sins shows a contempt for God; however, the underlying anger that I have (even though I still want to follow God and don’t want to commit mortal sin), may have caused this venial sin to rise to the level of mortal sin. Is this simply a venial sin that I have “caught in time” before it becomes a habit and possibly leads to a mortal sin of hatred somewhere down the line, where an act of contrition and repentance will suffice? Or has it risen to the level of mortal sin already because of my anger at God that is “below the surface”? Especially after I read about “contempt for God” and I STILL thought back to the scene. I have been to confession 4 times in 2 weeks’ time but I will go again if necessary.