What (specifically) are mortal sins?


#1

OK, I joined the Church 3 years ago, I read the Catechism, and I’ve been posting here for almost a year. I thought I knew what a mortal sin was. Now, some of the other posters on here talk about the impossibility of getting through a day without mortal sin, etc., which makes me wonder if I have a far too restricted veiw of mortal sin. I thought mortal sins were things like:
-Commiting adultery, fornication, sodomy, masturbation
-Deliberately fantasizing about the above
-Seriously damaging gossip, true or false
-Deliberatey skipping Mass
-Stealing (on purpose)
-Deliberately worshipping or praying ot pagan gods, demons etc.
-Trying to speak to the spirits of the dead, do magic (not card tricks!)
-Entertaning thoughts of violence and revenge

but now I begin to wonder if mortal sin includes such things as:
-Dominating a conversation, interrupting
-Snapping at someone, reprimanding a child too harshly
-Sleeping 9 hours on a weekend night
-Eating an extra slice of pizza
-Leaving the laundry undone for a day
-Thinking that if I die on the way to confession, God will forgive me because I intended to confess

  • Enjoying a debate
  • Buying a plant for my garden, rather than giving the money to the Church/ to charity
    -Being glad I am no longer tempted to commit a sin I used to be tempted by.

#2

There’s a point where one can be over-scrupulous. Maybe over-sleeping or eating an extra slice of pizza is unnecessary… but that doesn’t constitute a choosing to deny God… Otherwise… most Catholics would be extremely fit. :slight_smile: However, in choosing to eat a slice of pizza you mean to somehow… hate God… then, yeah, it’s a mortal sin. I think if you live your life, and pray often, you’ll know when you have sinned gravely.


#3

CCC 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

Examination of Conscience


#4

Dominating a conversation, interrupting
-Snapping at someone, reprimanding a child too harshly
-Sleeping 9 hours on a weekend night
-Eating an extra slice of pizza
-Leaving the laundry undone for a day
-Thinking that if I die on the way to confession, God will forgive me because I intended to confess

  • Enjoying a debate
  • Buying a plant for my garden, rather than giving the money to the Church/ to charity
    -Being glad I am no longer tempted to commit a sin I used to be tempted by.

None of these rise (or sink) to the level of “grave matter.” In fact, a couple are even good things–like pizza and sleep. I personally think a good charitable debate is one of the finer pleasures in life.

This might seem a little risky or irresponsible, but quit thinking about sin. Love God and live your life. It’ll all fall into place.


#5

Here is some info that may help a little:

***Mortal Sins

***Venial Sins and Imperfections
[size=4]***[size=2]
catholicparents.org/oxcart/examination.html***[/size]
[/size]


#6

The Ten Commandments lists the mortal sins. The other stuff isn’t mortal, unless you think it is, and then it is. So maybe these people think that every angry thought is a mortal sin or something. Or maybe they have trouble with lying or looking at their neighbors’ wives or something.

Speaking of which, I went to a Catholic college, and the men were all very effeminate, although they didn’t think so of course. And they were mostly all very devout Catholics, generally the more effeminate they were. But they were all home schooled, you know, and not very worldly. Their mothers were all afraid to let them play football because they might get hurt, or hear some other kid swear, which they must consider a mortal sin, because why else would swearing be such a big deal to these people? Anyway… They were constantly going on about how the girls on campus were dressed and how they were being tempted into committing mortal sins by the hussies in the shorts, although the girls on this campus were so drastically modestly dressed compared to the real world, it was really surprizing that these guys’ minds were so in the gutter and they just had no self control. My husband had a fairly normal upbringing, and went to a state college, played sports, the whole bit. His family is from Europe, so he’s been to nude beaches and what not. He says it’s not a big deal and he doesn’t feel tempted. He says most men can control their thoughts, and if they can’t it’s because they’re weak. He said he might think that a woman is attractive, but he isn’t raping her in his mind, for crying out loud. I have male friends who say the exact same thing, and I trust them.

My point is, it seems to me that people who are obsessed with sin seem to sin more. They seem to be weaker than the rest of us. They of course don’t see it that way. They think they are hyper-spiritual, but I’m not buying it. A girl on campus one time told me she was on her way to confession because she was planning a surprize party for her roommate and she had lied to her in order to get the party off without a hitch. Give me a break! I also had a professor who told us that it is a sin to lie to the Nazis if you’re hiding Jews in your attic! Let me tell you something: It’s a sin to tell the Nazis the truth! I would rather be punished for lying to the Nazis than for murder! This same professor said that it is acceptable for a ship to bomb another ship during war even if the other ship has innocent children on board. Psychotic! I will follow my own conscience, thank you very little, and these nuts can have at their moral theology all day. I’m over it.


#7

The thing is, I don’t usually worry about sin much, and I don’t go to confession very often. I thought if I avoided the type of things on the first list, I was OK. I try to eliminate the things on the second list because I want to be holier and better able to serve God, but I don’t worry when I do them that I am in a state of mortal sin, or rust to confession. But I got the impression some of the other people on here did consider these sorts of things mortal sins, so I was starting to worry that I might have become too lax. Being a convert, I might not have the same “sense” of what is sin that cradle Catholics do.

Regarding the Nazi thing, two words: mental reservation.
“There are no Jews here!” (in this room)
“I’m not hiding any Jews!” (I already hid them)
“God knows where the Jews went!” (and so do I)


#8

The second list appears to me to be more venial. Venial sins counter virtue. When we build virtue these things replace venial imperfections. Some confess them, so do not. The Church encourages discussion of venial matters. Unfortunately, some of the more progressive priests will dismiss these things, tell you that they are not sinful (which they are not gravely so, but still venial), or even tell you that you are being scrupulous when you only wish to build virtue. On the other hand, a good orthodox priest will encourage confession of these things as it gives him an opportunity to provide counsel and to help you to build virtue. Such priests are usually virtuous themselves and have worked through many things.

Of that which you have listed in the second category, several things fall under moderation. For example, I know many holy orders in which priests, sisters and brothers will only give themselves 6-7 hours of sleep daily. They function a life time like this. To sleep 9-10 hours on a regular basis (depending on age, of course), could be considered a moderation problem. From a professional standpoint, some may require that kind of sleep in order to function properly, such as truck drivers or others, so it is dependent on the individual.

Ditto with too much pizza or too much computer time. I was having a hard time getting prayer time in. Then I did an analysis of my time and realized I was watching way too much TV with almost 2 hours of prime time programming lined up most days and loads of football on the weekends. Just as bad was time spent on computer and intertnet, including this forum. This was getting easily into 8-10 hours weekly. Yet, I could not find 15 minutes to pray a rosary, or 15 minutes in the morning and evening for the Divine Office I wanted to get back into, or 30 minutes for mental prayer. All of these things, including 15 minutes of spiritual reading daily are part of my Secular Carmelite formation. I realized I needed to work on cutting down something else in order to get these in and that it is hard to give up things we enjoy that are not necessarily bad in themselves. But, I felt it was worth mentioning to my confessor that I had all this time for TV and internet and no time for God. Over these past couple of months we’ve been working through it about every 2 weeks and slowly I have gotten there. He gave me some guidelines. I knew that it would please God if I worked towards moderation, but I also knew I needed help doing it. So, confessing these venial matters enabled my confessor to help me.


#9

Boy, I wish I knew a priest who would do that! The ones I have confessed to give the impression that if I haven’t murdered anybody, I’m wasting their time.

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]The second list appears to me to be more venial. Venial sins counter virtue. When we build virtue these things replace venial imperfections. Some confess them, so do not. The Church encourages discussion of venial matters. Unfortunately, some of the more progressive priests will dismiss these things, tell you that they are not sinful (which they are not gravely so, but still venial), or even tell you that you are being scrupulous when you only wish to build virtue. On the other hand, a good orthodox priest will encourage confession of these things as it gives him an opportunity to provide counsel and to help you to build virtue. Such priests are usually virtuous themselves and have worked through many things.

Of that which you have listed in the second category, several things fall under moderation. For example, I know many holy orders in which priests, sisters and brothers will only give themselves 6-7 hours of sleep daily. They function a life time like this. To sleep 9-10 hours on a regular basis (depending on age, of course), could be considered a moderation problem. From a professional standpoint, some may require that kind of sleep in order to function properly, such as truck drivers or others, so it is dependent on the individual.

Ditto with too much pizza or too much computer time. I was having a hard time getting prayer time in. Then I did an analysis of my time and realized I was watching way too much TV with almost 2 hours of prime time programming lined up most days and loads of football on the weekends. Just as bad was time spent on computer and intertnet, including this forum. This was getting easily into 8-10 hours weekly. Yet, I could not find 15 minutes to pray a rosary, or 15 minutes in the morning and evening for the Divine Office I wanted to get back into, or 30 minutes for mental prayer. All of these things, including 15 minutes of spiritual reading daily are part of my Secular Carmelite formation. I realized I needed to work on cutting down something else in order to get these in and that it is hard to give up things we enjoy that are not necessarily bad in themselves. But, I felt it was worth mentioning to my confessor that I had all this time for TV and internet and no time for God. Over these past couple of months we’ve been working through it about every 2 weeks and slowly I have gotten there. He gave me some guidelines. I knew that it would please God if I worked towards moderation, but I also knew I needed help doing it. So, confessing these venial matters enabled my confessor to help me.
[/quote]


#10

[quote=tiny’smommy]The Ten Commandments lists the mortal sins. The other stuff isn’t mortal, unless you think it is, and then it is. So maybe these people think that every angry thought is a mortal sin or something. Or maybe they have trouble with lying or looking at their neighbors’ wives or something.

Speaking of which, I went to a Catholic college, and the men were all very effeminate, although they didn’t think so of course. And they were mostly all very devout Catholics, generally the more effeminate they were. But they were all home schooled, you know, and not very worldly. Their mothers were all afraid to let them play football because they might get hurt, or hear some other kid swear, which they must consider a mortal sin, because why else would swearing be such a big deal to these people? Anyway… They were constantly going on about how the girls on campus were dressed and how they were being tempted into committing mortal sins by the hussies in the shorts, although the girls on this campus were so drastically modestly dressed compared to the real world, it was really surprizing that these guys’ minds were so in the gutter and they just had no self control. My husband had a fairly normal upbringing, and went to a state college, played sports, the whole bit. His family is from Europe, so he’s been to nude beaches and what not. He says it’s not a big deal and he doesn’t feel tempted. He says most men can control their thoughts, and if they can’t it’s because they’re weak. He said he might think that a woman is attractive, but he isn’t raping her in his mind, for crying out loud. I have male friends who say the exact same thing, and I trust them.

My point is, it seems to me that people who are obsessed with sin seem to sin more. They seem to be weaker than the rest of us. They of course don’t see it that way. They think they are hyper-spiritual, but I’m not buying it. A girl on campus one time told me she was on her way to confession because she was planning a surprize party for her roommate and she had lied to her in order to get the party off without a hitch. Give me a break! I also had a professor who told us that it is a sin to lie to the Nazis if you’re hiding Jews in your attic! Let me tell you something: It’s a sin to tell the Nazis the truth! I would rather be punished for lying to the Nazis than for murder! This same professor said that it is acceptable for a ship to bomb another ship during war even if the other ship has innocent children on board. Psychotic! I will follow my own conscience, thank you very little, and these nuts can have at their moral theology all day. I’m over it.
[/quote]

Sacrilege against the Eucharist is a mortal sin but its not against any of the Commandments.


#11

What about the second commandment? I think it would fall under that one.


#12

[quote=thistle]Sacrilege against the Eucharist is a mortal sin but its not against any of the Commandments.
[/quote]

It would indeed fall under the second commandment and acts of intentional descration of the Eucharist can get you automatic excommunication. Here is one of many “Examination of Conscience” lists that can be found on the web.

theworkofgod.org/Library/examine.htm


#13

Remember, to be a mortal sin the sin must not only be objectively grave (hard to see any of those things on the 2nd list that way), but you must have full knowledge that it is grave, and give full consent. I’ve always understood this to mean, for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience, that one knows darned well that the act they are about to commit is a mortal sin. Others may argue about this, but I don’t think Catholics who are “paying attention” go about committing mortal sins left and right.

To me, some of the things on the second list would be venial sins, and others wouldn’t be sins at all. Who in the heck would think that sleeping 9 hours is a sin, or buying a plant, or enjoying a debate?

And the part about confession, if you are sincerely repentant for having offended God, is actually Church teaching. Read about the perfect act of contrition.


#14

it seems impossible for me to get through the day without sin whether in thought, or word, or attitude, or desires, or actions, by ommision or commision. However, to say one could not live through one day without mortal sin is silly. What hope would we have then?

I try to goto confession reguarly…I try to confess Mortal sin and any reoccuring venial or habitual sins or things im struggling with. Sometimes im tempted not to go because im afraid im wasting the priests time, but the sacrament is a course of great Grace for those in a state of sanctifying grace, it helps us stay close to the Lord in our walks, and increases His life within us.

Im grateful for confession.


#15

[quote=VociMike]And the part about confession, if you are sincerely repentant for having offended God, is actually Church teaching. Read about the perfect act of contrition.
[/quote]

It takes special grace from God to be able to make a true act of perfect contrition. that is your sorrow is derived mainly from your love of God not from a fear of punishment.

We should always strive to make acts of perfect contrition. However, we should always goto confession if we are are ina state of mrotal sin whether or not we believe we have made an act of perfect contrition. From what I understand, if there is grave situation as a soldier going to battle, if they are in a state of mortal sin, they can recieve the Holy Eucharist so long as they are aware of the need to make an act of perfect contrition, strive for it, and get to confession ASAP. But dont quote me on that.


#16

[quote=Anonymous_1]It takes special grace from God to be able to make a true act of perfect contrition. that is your sorrow is derived mainly from your love of God not from a fear of punishment.

We should always strive to make acts of perfect contrition. However, we should always goto confession if we are are ina state of mrotal sin whether or not we believe we have made an act of perfect contrition. From what I understand, if there is grave situation as a soldier going to battle, if they are in a state of mortal sin, they can recieve the Holy Eucharist so long as they are aware of the need to make an act of perfect contrition, strive for it, and get to confession ASAP. But dont quote me on that.
[/quote]

I agree with everything you said. I was just pointing out that the OP’s example of “Thinking that if I die on the way to confession, God will forgive me because I intended to confess” is hardly a mortal sin. It may be true, depending on the circumstances, or it may be an honest error. Does anybody here actually believe that somebody who dies on the way to make a (sincere) confession will end up in hell? (I’m not suggesting that you believe this, BTW)


#17

[quote=Lux_et_veritas]It would indeed fall under the second commandment and acts of intentional descration of the Eucharist can get you automatic excommunication. Here is one of many “Examination of Conscience” lists that can be found on the web.

theworkofgod.org/Library/examine.htm
[/quote]

That’s what I also thought but I was told by a priest that is wrong so now I don’t know. He said there are several sins considered mortal which cannot be directly related to the 10 Commandments.
For example “laying violent hands on the Pope”.


#18

I hope this will help. It is from the older Baltimore Catechism.

Q. 282. How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?

A. To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

Q. 283. What do we mean by “grievous matter” with regard to sin?

A. By “grievous matter” with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.

Q. 284. What does “sufficient reflection and full consent of the will” mean?

A. “Sufficient reflection” means that we must know the thought, word or deed to be sinful at the time we are guilty of it; and “full consent of the will” means that we must fully and willfully yield to it.

Q. 285. What are sins committed without reflection or consent called?

A. Sins committed without reflection or consent are called material sins; that is, they would be formal or real sins if we knew their sinfulness at the time we committed them. Thus to eat flesh meat on a day of abstinence without knowing it to be a day of abstinence or without thinking of the prohibition, would be a material sin.

Q. 286. Do past material sins become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness?

A. Past material sins do not become real sins as soon as we discover their sinfulness, unless we again repeat them with full knowledge and consent.

Q. 287. How can we know what sins are considered mortal?

A. We can know what sins are considered mortal from Holy Scripture; from the teaching of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

Q. 288. Why is it wrong to judge others guilty of sin?

A. It is wrong to judge others guilty of sin because we cannot know for certain that their sinful act was committed with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.

Q. 289. What sin does he commit who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin?

A. He who without sufficient reason believes another guilty of sin commits a sin of rash judgment.

Q. 290. What is venial sin?

A. Venial sin is a slight offense against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offense committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will.

Q. 291. Can we always distinguish venial from mortal sin?

A. We cannot always distinguish venial from mortal sin, and in such cases we must leave the decision to our confessor.

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.

Q. 293. Which are the effects of venial sin?

A. The effects of venial sin are the lessening of the love of God in our heart, the making us less worthy of His help, and the weakening of the power to resist mortal sin.

Q. 294. How can we know a thought, word or deed to be sinful?

A. We can know a thought, word or deed to be sinful if it, or the neglect of it, is forbidden by any law of God or of His Church, or if it is opposed to any supernatural virtue.

Q. 295. Which are the chief sources of sin?

A. The chief sources of sin are seven: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth, and they are commonly called capital sins.

Baltimore Catechism #3

I think this points things out fairly clearly.

Note that in order for the confessor to accurately judge whether your sin is mortal or venial, you must give him enough information about the nature of it, your motives, and other factors.

hurst


#19

[quote=VociMike]I agree with everything you said. I was just pointing out that the OP’s example of “Thinking that if I die on the way to confession, God will forgive me because I intended to confess” is hardly a mortal sin. It may be true, depending on the circumstances, or it may be an honest error. Does anybody here actually believe that somebody who dies on the way to make a (sincere) confession will end up in hell? (I’m not suggesting that you believe this, BTW)
[/quote]

As a cradle Catholic…raised, and then left…more like wandered away…and then tried dearly to regain strength in unity when my son was diagnosed terminal. I wanted to understand, i wanted to find strength to endure and so on…i really understood not being able to do it alone.

I am not picking on or debating this post, it has simply touched my heart in a different way than i expected. For so long, i dealt with priests that did not want to place a ripple in any still waters, and i do believe i went un-educated in the Catholic faith. I came away with a great apreciation of what good sheparding was, how to treat your neighbour, and so on. Sin in general was never mentioned, talked about…just the “community” garbage that fluffed the actual topics and made it so general, that it seemed important, but never ever reached me. (It is still in the schools, and i see it as a lack of teachers innitiative…simply a blanket they are hiding under)

I then had to deal with my sons death (It will be 2 yrs this Jan 9th) and i did not know so many things, i had zero to fall back on. Just a general knowledge, and a parrish priest that continuously sent me away. I went to this forum a year ago, and learned so many things. I also have been (recently) going to confession. First one was in grade 3…then a few months ago. (i am 42) I did not know you were supposed to confess, although i held my children acountable in all they said and did, as well as myself. I was to understand that you went to the priest for assistance if you did not know how to confess to God himself. How’s that for Catholic Education. I have zero knowlege of any doctrine, bible stories, nothing. No one was ever brave enough to teach the truth.

So here on this forum, i have friends that have helped me on my walk towards the Lord. I had believed that at one time we were held accountable for our sins as they happened. With Jesus’ death on the cross, free will was inplace, and we would be acountable after death. Everyone goes to purgatory. We then face our Lord and we have to acount for our sins against our soul. We can not pray for ourselves, but we can pray for others once we have passed on. We can not go to heaven untill our souls are pure.

When Jesus died for our sins, the understanding was lost to me in elimentary school, but latter i learned…Jesus takes our sins (in confession) and places them onto himself, just to clear ours sins, and theirby making the time and effort into heaven a shorter experience. With confession, we are having them wiped clean, and are subsequently leaving our slate with a short list, instead of a lifetime list. Once they are forgiven, they are gone…wiped from existence!

So, when a term is used, a certain sin can send us to Hell, i was surprised, because if you are working your way to heaven/Lord, and try, i do not see Hell on the agenda…just the amount of time in purgatory. At least this is what i have learned so far…


#20

[quote=thistle]That’s what I also thought but I was told by a priest that is wrong so now I don’t know. He said there are several sins considered mortal which cannot be directly related to the 10 Commandments.
For example “laying violent hands on the Pope”.
[/quote]

Doesn’t all assult fall under “thou shalt not kill”?


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