What is full knowledge as it applies to mortal sin?

I’ve tried looking at old threads, but I’m still not sure of the answer to my question. Hopefullly you all can help me out. So I grew up evangelical. I was validly baptized as a child. I was taught that you could never lose your salvation no matter what you did. And also, that all sins are equal in God’s eyes. As a youth and young adult, I committed some grave sins. I knew on some level that all sins were not equal, even though I had been taught otherwise, but I did not know or realize that a serious sin could lead to me falling from a state of grace. I would’ve probably made better decisions had I known that. :frowning:

So now I am coming into the Catholic Church at Easter. for the purposes of preparing for my first reconciliation, I’m wondering, were those past sins mortal if I didn’t realize they would severe my relationship with God at the time? Does full knowledge mean you know it is a serious sin, or does full knowledge mean you know it is so serious that you will fall from grace and you choose to do it anyway?

I hope the question makes sense. Thanks!

Hi! This article might help. Key word being “might”. As advice from a fellow, struggling layperson, I would confess everything that meets the “Grave Matter” criteria, which is a lot less subjective than the “Full Knowledge” part!

Also, ask a priest!



I second this.

If it is “Grave Matter”, confess it and let God be the judge, and then trust in his mercy regardless of the sin or your culpability.

Father Robert Spitzer S.J., Ph.D. has given his take on it, on his EWTN show called "Father Spitzer’s Universe, here at minute mark 36:25

and again here at minute mark 40:30

That pretty much follows how I handled my first confession and every one since. I simply looked at what acts involved grave matter and the times where I knew I was doing wrong at some level. I found it too easy to want to brush off grave matter as simply unimportant if I wasn’t 100% sure when in reality often times I was trying to avoid embarrassment.

We obviously need to be careful of becoming overly scrupulous, but at the same time we shouldn’t become indifferent to sin by setting the bar so high that it become impossible for us to commit a mortal sin. I figure we should have sorrow for all sin even if it doesn’t rise to the level of mortal sin. Sometimes repentance in the small things can lead us into a greater understanding of where we need to grow.

You will find many differing opinions on this to the extreme one that full knowledge means knowing 100% and understanding 100%. I don’t buy that as it would almost mean nobody on the planet could commit a mortal sin.

Simple rule for me is if you know the Church teaches something is of grave/serious matter then that satisfies full knowledge.

Any person who is scrupulous should not participate in this thread. Instead see your priest.

If you confess something that was grave matter but you think you may not have committed a mortal sin (via lack of the knowledge or complete consent)- note to the Priest the reality involved -that while it was grave it may not have been a mortal sin that was committed at the time …tell him what you told us…(one is to note if one is unsure…)

The Catechism talks about mortal sin. vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm

I just want to add. Your view of God will determine your theology. What kind of God do you believe in? . I believe in a merciful God, the one that is pictured in Scripture as welcoming the prodigal son. He never turned his back on the prodigal son even when his son left him in disgrace. God never abandons us. It is we who leave him. The son by demanding his inheritance while his father is still alive is basically saying to his father I wish you were dead. In Jewish custom at that time the father would be expected to disown his son. The response of the other son to reject his brother would have been expected of the Father also by the Pharisees. Instead the Father not only accepts his son back but he goes out to meet him. It would also have been expected that to be accepted back the son would have to repay the money that he lost. The son devises a plan to work as a laborer to repay his debt to his father. Instead the Father accepts him back as a son, puts a ring on his finger, accepting him as a son, and throws a party in his honor. When questioned by the other son (Pharisee) he says we had to celebrate because my son was lost and is now found.

This is radical mercy. This should underline whatever theology of God we have. God doesn’t reject us or abandon us. Nothing can separate us from his love Scripture says. The only thing that can separate us from God is us. God is a lover and a gentlemen. He doesn’t force himself on us and he allows us to choose him freely. He knows the desires of our heart. And he knows us better than we know ourselves. The Sacrament of reconciliation is there for us to help us imperfect people with imperfect contrition to be reconciled to God and to receive his grace to help us not to sin again. It is an act to turn ourselves towards God and receive his healing which he generously offers us.

Knowledge that some particular kind of act comes under the category of “mortal sin” suffices… provided one knows what “mortal sin” is, although one could lose his mind trying to figure out just how much one has to understand what the loss of salvation entails in order to meet the criterion.

It is not the only measure. Acting against the clear dictates of conscience urging one that such and such an act is directly contrary to some basic principle of virtue (as detailed in the 10 Commandments!) also suffices. But how clear is clear enough? It is hard to say.

This is the problem with trying to quantify a quality.

It is often unwise to try to figure out whether or not one is in a state of grace after some act - our “go to” should be an apology rather than an analysis. But the more confident you are that you lost the state of grace, then the better an idea it is to make the best act of contrition you can and ask God to help you make it - then to go to confession soon. If you are aware that you deal with scrupulous judgments, then judge your own judgment as best as you can, then follow that (you’ll often find that you can say confidently and correctly that you are being unreasonable!)…

Angels have true “full knowledge” with regard to moral acts. They know the complete moral meaning and salvific consequences of their actions. That’s why there is no salvation history for angels, just an instantaneous choice of Heaven or Hell immediately upon being created.

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