What is Venial and Mortal Sin?


Greetings in Christ!

I understand the difference between venial and mortal sins, but what if one was to compile a general list of both of these, what would the list contain? Is there a fine line involved, as I know a venial sin could, in and under certain circumstances, become a mortal one.
Thanks for any comments.

Dominus Vobiscum,
Jerald Franklin Archer


That’s like asking ‘what’s the difference between diseases that will kill you and ones that won’t - can someone compile a general list of which are which?’

There are as many kinds of sin as there are sinners to do them - our inventiveness in that regard is limitless :frowning:

The catechism gives a good account of the major categories of sin in its section on the Ten Commandments - and generally indicates which, out of the ones it deals with, are invariably grave (meaning they will always be mortal sins if done with full knowledge and consent), and which are more borderline and more dependent on circumstances to determine their gravity.

See, there are reasons why we go to confession, and reasons why we should ideally confess even venial sins. It’s because we can get, in the confessional, the more detailed case-by-case advice that is often necessary in regard to sin, since all sins have a strong subjective element to them.


… and what might be a mortal sin under certain circumstances may actually in fact be a venial sin under different circumstances. You know the definition of mortal sin and the 3 elements needed which determine it to be mortal:

Definition: Something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law, or a thought, word, or deed contrary to the eternal law. (St. Augustine - Contra Faustum, XXII, xxvii). NOTE: I would add that the “something” being said, done, or desired is a voluntary action on the part of the individual concerned.

  1. Grave matter - A sin that severs our relationship with God.
  2. Knowledge - Individual knows that the act is of grave matter and violates the eternal law (eternal law being both laws against nature and against man).
  3. Consent - Having both elements #1 and #2 established and understood by the individual, he/she free chooses to commit the act anyway.

I know that in my case, the only question that I find myself asking revolves around the first element. “Does X equal a sin that severs my relationship with God?” The way we come to determine this, is to ensure that our conscience is carefully and correctly formed. In today’s world, that can be a real challenge, since society often insists that evil is good and good is evil. When a human being is exposed to this from birth, he/she may find it difficult to determine what is and is not good and/or evil. Thus today we have some Catholics who see nothing wrong with birth control, abortion, homosexuality, etc. Now go back 100 years ago, prior to society dictating these roll reversals in morality, and you’d find that the vast majority would never even consider homosexuality as being anything but evil. I shudder to think what awaits all of us in another 100 years. God bless.


Greetings in Christ!

Dear Tietjen,
Your post is very correct and informative. I agree with you on all accounts concerning what the world considers good and evil and, even though we cannot know the future, how much further that they will continue embracing evil (unknowingly believing it to be good.) But sensibility and rational behaviours in today’s society seems to be lacking, especially in the areas of morality.
By understanding history, we have knowledge of what terrrible evil people can commit, and it seems that it has become worse, in my observations. I read in your profile that you are a law officer.I imagine you have really the expert knowledge of the evil that people are capable of.
I will keep you in my prayers that God keeps you safe from harm, as I know how dangerous your job can be. God Bless you and yur Family!

Dominus Vobiscum,
Jerald Franklin Archer


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