Worried I may have committed heresey


Hey guys. Just woke up a few minutes ago, and as I was waking up, I was sort of talking to myself in my head and wondering where in the world my glasses were. Suddenly, I had one of my free-floating thoughts ask “when’s the end of the world?”. I thought back to myself and said “meh, probably at 3000 or something.”
After this, I realized that we Catholics can’t predict when the world will end. Thing is, I wasn’t trying to predict the world’s end; I was just tired. It could happen in 3,000 years or it could happen today, and I realize that. My question is: did I commit some sort of heresy? Keep in mind that for several minutes I continued to try to rationalize it to myself, saying exactly that: it could happen in 3,000 years or it could happen tomorrow; I was just thinking. Personally, I think we’ve got a good week left at least, but I’m not saying that it won’t happen at all next week. Is this line of thinking heretical? Just want to make sure, because I’ve told some of my friends before that I figured we had another five years at least before the world ends, but I didn’t use it for an excuse to sin nor did I say that it couldn’t happen during those five years.
It never occurred to me this thinking could be heretical, and if that’s the case, I want to get rid of it. Also, I didn’t excommunicate myself, did I? Heresy is a cause for automatic excommunication, so I just want to make sure before I take any more sacraments. I know this sounds scrupulous and whatnot, but this rarely happens. If I was fully awake after I thought “probably after 3000”, I would’ve corrected myself with “I just can’t know when” instead of trying to rationalize thinking that it’d be 3000.
My thinking is that of the Church’s: I can’t know when. It could be tomorrow, or it could be a million years from now. Just want to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong.


This doesn’t sound like heresy, it sounds like scrupulosity. Don’t worry about it dude.


You need to be talking to a professional counselor about scrupulosity/anxiety, not asking strangers on the internet.


Oh boy, your in trouble now!! Actually not. No, you didn’t commit heresey. All kinds of random thoughts and ideas float in our minds when we are half awake. Your safe.:smiley:


Heresy is committed with full knowledge on your part. Guessing at the end of the world isn’t even close (when my priest mentions the return of the Lord during some masses, he will often add “may it be soon”. It’s in the same category, just a guess comment.

The scrupulosity issue is something to worry about, if it begins to rule you waking life, then it may require counseling…

My personal rule is anything that pops into my head, seemingly from nowhere, as I wake up is just random noise and shouldn’t be taken too seriously…


As the Catechism defines it:

Heresy is the **obstinate **post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an **obstinate **doubt concerning the same.

How does this look in practical terms? Let me give you a hypothetical situation that’s not true just to illustrate the point.

Let’s say that the Church has infallibly defined that the Second Coming will occur at 12:12 PM on Thursday, December 12, 2052. In doing so, the Church has declared that this truth must be believed “with Divine and Catholic Faith.” (Let’s also forget for a moment that this would go against Scripture: let’s suppose it doesn’t.)

But as for you, you’re not so sure. In fact, you absolutely and utterly refuse to believe this, and you think the Church is nuts. No matter what anyone tells you, you just refuse to submit to this teaching.

THAT is (formal) heresy. Having an erroneous thought and then dwelling on it is not heresy, even if you know the erroneous thought is condemned by the Church. Heresy involves obstinance, and it would be treating a dogma of the faith as if it were just another opinion.

As for automatic excommunication: I believe that this involves outward actions and not interior dispositions. You can’t accidentally accomplish automatic excommunication by having certain thoughts, you actually need to **do **something exterior. In the case of abortion, for example, **intending **to abort your baby might be a mortal sin, even if you don’t actually do it because you’ve changed your mind. But until the baby is killed in the mother’s womb, she is not automatically excommunicated, assuming she meets the canonical criteria for culpability in the first place. (I of course offer the caveat that I am not a canon lawyer, and so I urge you to take this opinion with a grain of salt.)

Go here for more information: ewtn.com/expert/answers/heresy_schism_apostasy.htm


It seems you didnt consent to anything just had the thought in your head and then corrected yourself. This probably happens to everyone every day, no worries!


First, thoughts that just enter our heads are never sins, these things we do not control. What matters is how you respond to them.

Second, though we know we can’t accurately predict the end of the world, random musings on the subject (while arguably not helpful) are not heretical. Many saints lived under the impression that were in some sort of end times period, and while they were not correct, that impression is never considered to have been sinful. To vaguely say “well, it could end some time around here, I guess,” is not the same as saying that you have the knowledge that Jesus said we would not have.

Third, you cannot commit the sin of heresy by accident. Even you straight up thought, explicitly and with full consent, something like “I bet the Trinity is just the one God acting in three different ways,” without having the knowledge that that is the heresy of modalism and that God is in fact three Divine Persons perfectly united, that wouldn’t be the sin of heresy. It would just be you being confused. It becomes the sin of heresy when you persist in it even after knowing better.

If all of our confusions counted as heresy, then the ideas we all had when we were (say) 5 would keep us in the confessional for days. I remember at that time saying something like “God is so big He could play basketball with the world,” which really makes no sense.

So don’t worry about it. If at any point you realize that something you innocently thought was wrong and corrected it, there was no sin.

This does also sound like scrupulosity (or the beginnings of it). If you find yourself constantly wondering if things you’ve done maybe might have been sinful perhaps, then you should try to find a priest to help you with that.


I see. Thanks, guys! I was reading through that article on EWTN (thanks for the link, AttendeDomine) and I came across a list of those who cannot be subject to penalties of violating laws or precepts, and it listed that those under the age of 16 cannot be excommunicated. I think it’s telling the truth, but I just find it a bit surprising. So if I was under the age of 16, I could run off and start my own church, and I wouldn’t be excommunicated until I became 16? Not that I’d do it, I’m just wondering. It just seems a bit odd to wrap my head around.


The penalty of excommunication cannot be levied, either automatically or by declaration, on someone under the age of 16. This is true per canon law. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go off and start your own church. That would still be committing a sin, even if it didn’t incur a canonical penalty.

I would add that if you suffer from scrupulosity, as it seems that you might from your posts, you should do two things–1) seek the assistance of a spiritual director, and not random strangers on the Internet, and 2) do not read legal documents of the Church, especially about penalties, as this will only further cause you worry.



That is definitely not heresy, not even material heresy.
Believing women can be ordained priests would be heretical whereas while believing women can be made deacons is contrary to popular belief it is not heretical. That is how Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec can suggest that the bishops review whether they should make women deacons and still be in perfectly good standing with the Church as the former has been definitely decided by the Magisterium whereas the latter has not.


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