When is a Catholic not in the state of sin?


With all the rules and regulations regarding the Commandments, Sacraments, Works of mercy, days of observance, fasting, and so forth, when is a Catholic not in the state of sin?
There is no way under the sun that a person can observe every single rule and sacrament and observance without missing at least half of them at one time or another. “We are all sinners”, I agree with that, but when can one feel that he is not going to Hell for missing out on many of the observances, rules, etc mentioned above, at the time of death, and miss out on Eternal life with Jesus Christ whom he love and prayed to all his life? Some Apologist’s would say if you break the rule, you committed mortal sin, or venal sin. No one can have a perfect score, and Jesus knew this. "I did not come to condemn the world but to save it."
Thank you for your kind response to this sincere issue. God bless. :confused:rolleyes:


Welcome to the forums!

For starters, one cannot accidentally sin. In order to sin, you have to know the rule then willingly break the rule.

Venial sins do not send us to hell. Just the grave sins do that under certain circumstances (knew it was a sin, did it on purpose and freely chose to commit the sin).

It is certainly possible to live in a state of grace. I’m in a state of grace about 85% of the time. It’s a lot of work though, but it’s worth the effort.

If you find it hard to stay in a state of grace, may I suggest frequent confession. Not only will it right you with God and the Church, but it bestows grace to help you from sinning again. It’s a life long process!


Simple version: After I go to a good confession, I have no mortal sin on my soul so I am not in a state of sin. As long as I don’t commit a mortal sin (and remember you have to KNOW it is a mortal sin and CHOOSE to do so), I will not automatically go to Hell if I die.

Now, I may commit venial sins, but these are forgiven at Mass, or when I receive the eucharist. While not perfect, venial sins don’t condemn me to Hell.

I think there are a lot less “rules” than you think there are, and while I am by no means even close to perfect, I don’t really spend the bulk of my day trying to comply.

Is there a particular “rule” you have trouble with?


Thank you for the kind reply. I am aware of what you said, but fundamentally if you take the Catechism, and go through it, there are hundreds of things we should be doing to comply with Christ or the Church’s teachings. Listen to Catholic radio and you get an ear full of things that are called sins of negligence, non-compliance, rules of obedience, observance of virtues, sins of omission, commission, too numerous to mention. My question is fundamental, not simplistic. Just wondering about how Christ thinks of us when we personally turn to him in repentance, and prayer, as opposed to completing the check list in the catechism? I know the sacrament of confession is mandatory. Food for thought. Thank you my friends. God bless.:o


The first five minutes after Confession. :rotfl::rotfl:


:thumbsup: You got it, my friend! Making the best confession you can, and confessing for all the sins knowingly, or unknowingly committed, sort of covers the gamete. God bless you for that answer.
I was digging a bit deeper for an answer because in reality, there must be one that covers the general appearance of compliance of a Catholic to fulfill the requirements in the Catechism. One Priest in a lecture on Catholic TV said, if you had 10 beakers of water, ten flames, each would respond the same way as the first beaker But if you added variables to it, like two drops of oil to beaker number 2, asbestos under beaker #3, etc, then you would get different results in each. The same is true for the Catechism. Each person has a unique set of variables, and the response to beaker #1, like a Saint, would be different for people who are different, have various levels of spiritual, or religious education. etc. I am not looking for excuses, but honest reality, as to how to comply and still not miss something that would be very costly in the end. From the sound of it a simple, “hiding a sin” could send one to the abyss. Don’t worry I am not on that level. This is a theoretical question. Maybe the answer is Purgatory? Thanks for the input it is interesting to share with you. God bless.


Why not post one of the “hundreds of things” in the Catechism which seem to be causing you difficulty and perhaps we could move on from there? Christ summed up the law and the prophets in stating that we are, with our whole heart, to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves. You may find that what you perceive as many things may actually be only different aspects of one thing.


Amis, are you dealing with issues of personal scrupulousity, or are you just trying to stir up an argument?


Jesus definitely handed us a mighty challenge. If the rules were too easy then everyone would be a saint. I don’t want that to come across as flippant. But Jesus came into this world to challenge us, not to coddle or affirm our earthly ways. Remember, even the Pope goes to confession once a week so that should tell us something about how hard it is to truly live as one of Jesus’ followers. The good news is that God is infinite in His mercy. As the other posters said, stay away from mortal sin and you’ll be fine. It’s nothing a little Purgatory can’t clean off :).


You say there are hundreds of things we should be doing to comply with Christ or the Church’s teachings. You say there are sins of negligence, non-compliance, rules of obedience, observance of virtues, sins of omission and commision.

I agree. Yes, we are often in a state of sin, and this is not exclusive to Catholics. All Christians, and indeed all people of any faith or lack of it, are often in a state of sin, because we are imperfect human beings.

Striving to live out Christian behavior is the stuff of everyday life. Christ told us that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. All the teachings and disciplines of the Church have a purpose, to help guide and strengthen us in living out these two greatest commandments and all that Christ taught. If we mess up in following teachings and disciplines, we need to pick ourselves up and try again.

Be careful that you don’t view the disciplines of the Church as burdens that cause us to sin more. Disciplines of the Church such as daily prayer, Lenten fasting and abstinance, living the virtues, and performing works of mercy, are all efforts to live a life of holiness. If we fail in one way or another, it is good to confess it and obtain the sacrament’s many benefits: most of all sanctification, but also comfort from forgiveness, guidance from spiritual direction, and help to do better from sacramental grace.

Theoretically, in one day I could, due to circumstances, skip praying the rosary (sin of negligence), say God’s name in vain (non-compliance), accidentally eat meat on a meatless Friday (rule of obedience), and lose my temper with my child (observance (or lack of ) of virtues). All these things are sins of either omission or commission (but our sins are often more venial than mortal).

But here, focus on the big picture. The big picture is that I am trying to live a life of holiness, of dedicating my life to God and continuing the mission of Christ that He gave to the Church: to build up His kingdom on earth.

All that we do are efforts toward that divine mission, and sure we sin along the way. But God has established for us the seven sacraments and the guidance of the Church to help us imperfect children be a holy people.


The CCC is recommended reading. It is not mandatory reading.


:frowning: That’s such a sad post to read.

But I think you had the answer yourself: Jesus said “I did not come to condemn the world but to save it.” Don’t condemn yourself (or others) either! Of course be aware of how you can improve (a daily examination of conscience is a good thing) but let those things go then. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


Amis41 - I do not think yoiu are just picking an argument so let me try to be general. What does Jesus want of us? I think Matthew has a pretty good example:
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. "
That’s not so hard, is it?:smiley:

Now that we know Jesus wants us to be perfect, how do we know what “perfect” means? He gives us the Chruch and her teachings to tell us what “perfect” looks like.

Well, I know what he wants and I know what “perfect” looks like, why don’t we reach it? Because we are human. We all fall short. Jesus though gives us the sacraments, especially confession, (and purgatory when we die) to allow us to pick up our cross and move forward again.

I don’t think anyone, pope’s and priests and religious and members of the Traditional Forum included (;)) ever gets “perfect”, but as long as we are moving in that direction and trying to follow His Church, He will walk with us until we finally get to “perfect” in Heaven.


My brothers and sisters, in Christ,
Thank you for the great replies. This is a great site to have these discussions. A few points really touched home - that the CCC is a guide book of what perfection looks like, and we are climbing the mountain to God:heaven:, the path is not easy, but Christ is our model, we carry our crosses and offer our sufferings back to Him. The sacraments if used often, will patch our wounds, and refresh us for the journey. I will say a prayer for each of you :gopray2: as I pray the Liturgy of Hours - which I started in February, it is filled with biblical prayer, and can be found on www.divineoffice.org in audio by four dedicated people. God bless, :signofcross: and thank you. :thankyou::grouphug:


No, it was an intellectual question with serious insight, and complexity if you really think about it. The deeper you think about it, the deeper the questions become. The answers given by the wonderful respondents touched on various aspects which clears the doubts and offers encouragement. The consequences of sin is death. That is a heavy subject.
The answer is Christ, and the Church, which gives us the light, and the way. Thanks for asking. God bless. :thumbsup:


All of the “rules,” whether of minor or major importance, whether disciplinary in nature or concerned with divine moral precepts, come down to just two things: love of God and love of neighbor. The rules are the same for everybody, not just Catholics. Jesus asked moral perfection of his followers: “You must be perfect, even as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Yet he did not abandon us to strive without hope, but left us the means of grace, the means of sanctification—his Church, his sacraments, the prayer life of the Church and its people.

He gave us the benefit of his life abiding in us through the Eucharist, offers his continual forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession, gives his strength in Confirmation and Annointing, provides his help in our life choices through the sacraments of vocation such as Matrimony and Orders. The richness of Christ’s graces flowing through the means he gave us are superabundant.

The real question is how can non-Catholics hope to avoid mortal sin? Or how can anyone who does not make use of the means offered ever hope to avoid mortal sin and remain in the state of grace? Catholics have the means that are given by Christ; they need only use them.


Thank you, Jim. Well stated. Appreciate your kind response. God bless.


[quote=TheDoctor]Amis41 - I do not think you are just picking an argument

Neither do I and I certainly relate to what you have said.

As soon as I hear people telling me I must be perfect I cringe as I do not believe it is possible even if the word is used in the sense of doing what is best/correct in a situation.

[quote=TheDoctor]**So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.**That’s not so hard, is it?

No it’s not hard - it’s impossible.

For me forgiveness makes little difference it doesn’t wipe out what I did. Also its knowing that, as a human not being perfect, I am likely to do the same thing again. And why should anyone forgive me if I continue to make the same mistakes?

[quote=TheDoctor]Well, I know what he wants and I know what “perfect” looks like, why don’t we reach it? Because we are human. We all fall short. Jesus though gives us the sacraments, especially confession, (and purgatory when we die) to allow us to pick up our cross and move forward again.

I find it very difficult to see Jesus as a forgiving figure - which is one reason I left the Church (not the Catholic Church) eg I see Jesus condemnation of the Pharisees as attacking people who thought they were doing the correct thing, that in the parable of the Prodigal Son that Jesus did not recognise that the elder brother was doing “the correct thing” and being responsible.


Intellectually I can agree with this but “perfect” to me means/feels “perfect” not moving towards it.

Look forward to further discussion on this thread. I am sure it will help me sort of my ideas and feelings on this topic.*


Yes, the older brother was doing the correct thing: he stayed with and obeyed his father, and did not wantonly squander his resources. In the midst of his anger the father tells him, you are my son, and all I have is yours. But don’t you see? This brother of yours was lost, and is found. We had to celebrate. (I’m paraphrasing the bible verse here.)

The point of the parable is precisely forgiveness: unreasonable forgiveness, forgiveness beyond the bounds of propriety.

As for perfection, it is impossible to us. It is the work of the holy spirit and the process of sanctification. Perfection results from the imperfect moving towards God; sometimes we call that purgatory; sometimes we just call it life.


Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees is that they know what to do, yet they are not doing it. They are to lead the people, yet they take advantage of their position. His anger is a foreshadowing of God’s eternal justice.

Contrast that with the women condemned to be stoned for adultery. Jesus puts himself between the crowd and her and forgives her at the end. This is a forshadowing of God’s eternal mercy.

If we look through the gospels, we see many many more examples of God’s mercy than his justice, although it should be the other way around given the nature of man.

As to the prodigal son, the part about the older brother is often overlooked or misunderstood. Remember this is a parable so things are not exactly what they represent. The older brother (those who have held the faith) is angry (we can be mad at God). The father (God) goes out after the older brother (us) and begs him to come in. Could the father have ordered the older brother to come to him and then go inside? Yes, since the father (God) has all power over the brother (us). But the father goes and pleads with his son - God comes to us, He does not force Himself on us, and pleads with us to make amends and love him again. The only better example of love and mercy is Jesus’ death on the cross.

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