What is actually grave matter?



I’ve been a member of the Church for over one year. I know the difference between mortal and venial sin, but I wonder what is actually grave matter? I have recently been a bit disrespectful toward my grandmother, and I wonder whether it fulfills the criteria of grave matter or not.

Thank you for helping me to figure this out. God bless you all!:heart:


Serious offenses against God. Disrespect would not be a serious offense unless you injured the person or said something so hateful that is hurt the person. Like they couldn’t sleep because it bothered them so.


I believe it wasn’t like that, I just said something in front of my grandfather that she didn’t want me to say because she didn’t want him to worry about her. I did so because my father was there and he asked questions which she didn’t want to answer. At least I didn’t think that it would bother her too much that I said so, and that I should know about it. It didn’t result in any argument.


It does not sound like your situation constitutes as grave matter. Plus, while it’s natural for someone to not want loved ones to worry about them, it’s also natural for family members to want to be sure everything is actually ok. If my dad was seriously ill and he did not want me to take him to the hospital, if I had reason to believe he needed medical attention, I would take him anyway and my conscience would be clear on this. In such a situation I believe I’d be justified in disobeying my father.

From the catechism:

Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Grave matter involves matters which are very serious. If I get angry at my husband for not doing what I asked him to and call him a lazy poop, it’s not grave matter, and a venial sin. However, if I got angry at my husband and cheated on him to retaliate, that is committing adultery, and IS grave matter, and a mortal sin.

What I’ve noticed though, is that even though venial sins aren’t considered as serious as mortal sins, they do start to weaken a person and can eventually lead them to dispositions where they become more likely to start committing mortal sins.


Grave matter is one of the conditions of mortal sin, along with full knowledge and one’s consent. The grave matter is the action itself.


Thank you for such a good explained answer. I also thought about the sin of making lies, which I have understood is grave matter. Are lying always grave matter or does that change in different situations?

Thank you all & God bless!:heart:


It is the seriousness of the situation that determines the gravity. So lying in a situation that isn’t serious is not grave matter. Example: a wife asks her husband if he likes her new dress that he actually hates and he lies to her and tells her he likes it because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, that’s not really serious matter. But if someone lies as a witness under oath in the court of law and causes someone on trial to be unjustly convicted or even put to death, that is a very serious, grave matter.


No, this is not grave matter.


Thank you both for clearing the air. God bless you!:heart:


With regards to our neighbour, what is “grave” usually involves serious harm. Stealing $5 from a wealthy businessman isn’t grave. Stealing $5 from a beggar who makes 10 cents per day is.


Section 1735 of the catechism lists reasons for which a grave action may not impute culpability in the full sense or even at all, under certain circumstances. Even intentional sins of grave matter may not necessary impute full culpability for the action.

The first condition is inadvertence. If you made the remark inadvertently, you just lost control for a moment, it’s probably not a mortal sin.

No priest has ever asked me about how 1735 applies the sins I confess. The priest has no way of knowing whether they are mortal sins or not. You just go into the confessional, say each sin and the number of times, and get it over. No explaining is needed unless the priest asks a question.

There are examples in the bible … A woman slave is forced into adultery. She is not guilty of the sin. From the cross, Jesus said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do – ignorance of sin reduces the culpability for the sin.

Mental or other social problems. Not much detail here. Maybe a social factor is if a husband forces a wife to have an abortion. She’s not full responsible for that grave action.

1735 sounds technical, but it is about God’s mercy regarding complicated situations where grave matter may be involved.

Lying is not a sin that exists in a vacuum. There are other commands of God, such as to save a life. This is not generally to endorse that the end justifies the means. But, we also have an obligation to save a life if we can.

Jewish moralists rationalize that almost any of the commandments may be broken for a good reason, except several big ones like you can’t deny God or worship false idols; there are others that cannot be compromised, even at the risk of death.

Dt 6:4 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

The Jewish commentaries have understood that “with all your soul” means even to the point of death. Many of the early martyrs in the Church were not willing to compromise their faith. As revelations says, they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.


Thank you for such a good answer with quotes from the cathecism as well. God bless you!:heart:


Anything having to do with life or death will be grave matter.

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