I am Catholic
Mortal sin is Mortal Combat
By Pat Miron
Allow me my friend to add another layer of understanding, rather than simply comment on the Great Theologian; Thomas Aquinas profound teaching on Mortal Sin.
There are in my opinion, two Divine mysteries that are so profound that they alone ought to supply sufficient motivation for being a Informed, and Fully Practicing Catholic. They are the “Real Presence,” Catholic Holy Communion which invites one to an intimate union with our Creator God, far more intimate and personal than even married love. For is this Blessed Sacrament we not only participate “in it“, we literally SHARE in its substance as we become One with our God. …. The Second mystery deals with the forgiveness of our sins in the manner God Himself has ordained. [And therefore the ONLY sure method]. The result when we participate humbly; repent and convert from our hearts, ,further supported by our future actions is “Known forgiveness of our sins.” No greater source of true-inner-peace and inexpressible joy is known to humanity.
Luke.15: 7“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
The past few hundred years has seen the introduction by mortal men, various subtle “shortcuts,“ that are
deceitful, devious, duplicitous, underhanded, unreliable, untrustworthy, and motivated by a need for expediency driven by [radio, then television broadcast time restrictions]. Theologies like the “Sinners Prayer,“ and teaching that one need only “Know Christ” to be saved; that once one “is saved” [OSAS] one can [will /does] no longer sin is further lead by selling a pleasing hoax to human understanding, while trying to alter a complex and profound Divine teaching. Likely well motivated; but nevertheless a Grave endangering of Souls, anything different than what God himself clearly commands is a very high risk belief. These are myths, a hoax, perpetrated on gullible innocent children of God. Another motive is “an easier, less painful, less humiliating way,” necessarily quicker, and facilitating the “easy-sell” on Broadcast media as an “quick-fix” alterative to Catholic Teachings.
Any informed discussion about sin will evolve around mans personal choices, mans own freewill-decisions. It would be a good idea to frame our discussion with a few bible passages, to insure the understanding that what we share is of Devine, not human origin. The background for what we Catholics understand and teach, believe and practice comes from both Sacred Tradition of the Old Testament, and Revelation by the teachings of Christ Himself in the new perfected Covenant in Christ own Blood of the New Testament. It is highly significant that Christ Passion and the shedding of His Blood, share in both of these mysterious, and powerful Sacraments, and that God could have chosen other ways to accomplish these task.
Sin can only exist because of 1.
The manner in which we emulate our God. Possessing too a mind, intellect and a FREEWILL that are permanently attached to our Souls. without which sin would not be possible. 2. Sin requires always and every time the freewill consent of man. Even when prodded by this or that circumstance or condition, which God has grated to Satan to test us; sin always is a personal choice we must make.
Sin can be defined
as: “Saying NO! to God.” Logic conforms to the reality of this offence being either 1. Lesser [Venial sins] or 2. Greater [Mortal sins]. Because God is “All Good things Perfected,” God’s response must be in relation and proportion to the offense, as JUDGED by God’s, not mans standard.
The GREATEST failing of humanity,
beginning with Adam and Eve and all humanity since is not being able to comprehend how deeply God abhors all sin. Sin attacks the very grain of Gods goodness, mercy and love. And what makes it even worse; it is as already stated, our freewill choice. It is a direct affront to God’s goodness, fairness and justice.
The origin of sin begin with Satan. God’s first creation in “his own image” was Angels who possess to a far greater degree than does humanity; a more nearly perfect intellect, mind, and freewill. Having a level of right understanding that we shall never possess in this mortal life. Both Angels and Adam and Eve lived a “perfect” existence lacking ONLY One Thing. NOT actually being God. Not simply being LIKE God; but actually being God. Driven by pride which is now Satan’s KEY to the lock on our souls, and further accessed through our emotions; Satan has enormous, unimagined powers of influence granted by God in order to test us. Facilitated even more by a ruthless lack of moral values, and completely without scruples, Satan is ALWAYS on “the attack.” . God seeks “perfect love” returned to Him, in response to the perfect love that He offers to us. The fact that we can and therefore MUST freely choose to love or to hate God, is what adds value nearing perfection to our right choice.
1John.1 Verses 8 to 10
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
1John.5 Verses 16 to 1
“If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is [also] sin which is not mortal.”
John.20 Verses 20 to 23
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”
Heb.5 Verses 1 to 6 “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.” John.15: 16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Lev.19:22“And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed; and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.”
Let me be clear from the start. “Only God can and Only God does forgive our sins
.Acts.4: 12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Luke.11: 4“and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.” [The Lord’s Prayer.]
Acts.2: 38“And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Exod.10: 17“Now therefore, forgive my sin, I pray you, only this once, and entreat the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.”
Matt.9: 2, 5-6 “And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” For which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.”
Matt.26: 28“for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark.1: 4“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Let’s then resolve the issue of “WHY” forgiveness of sis in in an absolute sense necessary IF one is to attain the Eternal Bliss of heaven.
“ ….. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
Matt.5: 29-30 [Jesus Himself taught] “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” [Not literal BUT conveying God’s absolute abhorrence of sin.]
Rev.2: 23“and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches [speaking here of regions, not different faiths] shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.”
The absolutely necessary forgiveness of ALL of our sins is predicated on the principles of God’s fairness and justice as well as the scientific principle that “all actions cause a like reaction.” Therefore “good” begets good, and evil begets “evil.” It is a profound truth that God cannot choose to permit evil without imposing just consequences. Such is the Nature of a Perfect God.
Rev. 21: 27 “But nothing unclean shall enter it, [Heaven] nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Mt. 5: 26truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. Matt.5: 48“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Nature of Sin
Devine Justice demands that each sin be judged by God upon it effects and consequences to our souls, to our relationship with God and to those who are effected by our sins. For sin is very seldom a private matter, not effecting others. Therefore God judges sins as either “lesser” [venial], or “greater” [Mortal] in assigning merit of consequences to them. It is important to know that nothing remains hidden from God. God reads our minds and our hearts, and then factors in our degree of intent to harm, as well as the natural effects of our actions on all. …. Every sin has TWO separate types of consequences; two separate“ natures.” The first we might term the “apparent” [that which can be known], and the second; the “hidden,” but no less real. BOTH have there own separate consequences, and BOTH contribute to the imperfect condition of our souls, so both MUST be repaid in full if one is to attain heaven.
Mark.3: 28 -29 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” So the only unforgivable sin is “denial” of God.
These are sins most often of impulse or emotion. There intent is not “harm to others” but they may inadvertently have such an effect. Venial sins need not, in an absolute sense “have to be confessed in the sacrament of Confession” to be forgiven. One can appeal directly to God and at Mass we all join in a public “Act of Contrition” that through the mercy of God and the graces offered at Mass; remit all venial sins. [This is essential so that when we receive our God in Holy Communion, our souls are completely without sin. [Holy Communion is NEVER to be participated in when not in the state of grace caused by unconfessed, and unforgiven Mortal sin.] Even these “lesser” sins can have long term, even lasting effects on our souls if they become habitual, and go uncurbed. They can lead us to more serious sins if we just accept them as insignificant.
As the name itself implies. “Mortal” means “death.” This death is spiritual in nature and so severe that it severs [for a time] our personal relationship with our God. It dramatically reduces the flow of grace to our souls and numbs our conscience when repeated
All Mortal sins must be confessed in the Sacrament of Confession. Relating and explaining the circumstances [relevant to the degree of guilt], the number of times committed and any other information that relates to the seriousness of the offense, such as others [not by name] who were hurt by the action.
Mortal sin too falls into two categories. Sins that are “conditional” meaning that the circumstances surrounding the issue cause them to be “Mortal sins” and “intrinsic evil” that are always and every time, under every condition and reason, because of there obvious severity, classified as Mortal sins. These sinful acts are, or should be known by everyone, as being serious offences against what is morally“right.”
Jer.31:33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Heb.10: 16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.”
Examples of “intrinsic evils.” …. Intentional, premeditated murder, abortion, all-support of those in favor of abortion, slander that ruins a reputation [even if true], infidelity in marriage, pre-marital’ sex, missing by intent Sunday or Holy day Mass, contraception, extreme acts of lack of charity. And this is by no means the entire list of these evils.
Conditional Mortal sin
is less clear. There are three conditions that must be met in order for a “conditional Mortal sin” to exist. 1. Serious matter 2. Pre-knowledge that it is a serious matter 3. Then a desire to do “it” anyway. The “10 Commandments” are not “only ten sins”, they are categories of possible sins.
Perhaps a couple of illustrations will help make it more clear?
I steal $10.00 from a truly needy person. …. I pad my expense voucher to the multi-million dollar company I work for by the same $10.00. Both are sinful acts. Because in the first instance I am taking from true need, but in the second; from surplus want; the degree of culpability [degree of guilt incurred] on my part makes the first action a “serious” matter and a possible Mortal sin [if the other two conditions are also met], while in the second case; because of the circumstances, the necessary condition of “serious matter” does not apply. KNOW that in BOTH cases real and actual repayment will be required.
The guideline to be used is “would a majority of moral and like-mind persons consider this particular act to be “serious matter?” This assumes that these people have a properly informed conscience. So if we were to relate the above circumstances to 100 people; if more than half would agree that in the first case it is serious matter and in the second case that it is not. That is what we would use. If SINCERE / honest doubts remain, knowing that God reads both our minds and our hearts, to the validity of “serious matter” one should 1. ASSUME that it is NOT serious matter. 2. DISCUSS it with your Confessor in your next confession. 3. Make an exerted effort to avoid repeating this action until you have the opportunity to gain informed counsel.
Pre-knowledge of serious matter
In order for an act to become a Mortal Sin, one must be fully aware that the act being contemplated is going to be a mortal sin BEFORE it is committed.
Desire to commit the Mortal sin
For a Mortal sin to be “committed” it is sufficient that freewill desire be present. If for some reason one is unable to fulfill this sinful desire; it is still a Mortal Sin. Desire to commit is seen by God as having actually accomplished the act.
Payback of the “real things” and Reparation for our sins
So now we have a debt that we owe to both society, and to God. Payment is demanded and expected. But how is it accomplished?
The Confessor priest might impose specific things beyond the “normal penance” [usually in the form of specified prayers, but can be something else] that we must accomplish in order for the forgiveness granted to actually take effect. Perhaps a donation to a charity, or performing certain acts of charity. Perhaps asking for forgiveness from the parties we have hurt [this is seldom a requirement, but a possibility]. It can be what ever the priest feels is warranted, appropriate, and beneficial to our soul and that we are actually able to accomplish.
of The Hidden [latent] effects of sin
As indicated above all sins, because sin has a public aspect to it, have in addition to the “real payback” required [in the examples above the $10.00], we must make “whole or complete” the wrongs we have caused, and repair as much as possible the harmful effects we have inflicted. Many times this is neither simply accomplished or even physically possible. How does one restore life for example, or a ruined reputation, or a broken marriage caused by infidelity, or even the padded $10.00? These wrongs too must be repaid. We see here that even after our sins have been confessed and forgiven; there remains the “lingering effects of our sin which continue to exist.” WHY? Because in a sense all sins are public, in that they have the potential to effect others, besides the one [in this case from whom the money was taken from]. Perhaps it took food from a family? Perhaps your discovered and you gave scandal? Perhaps it effects your families reputation? Perhaps your example causes someone else to follow your example? The possibilities for others to be effected are many.
The result is that these “lingering effects” too must be “paid for and repaired” before we can be Perfected, and qualify for heaven. How might this be accomplished? God and His One Catholic Church give us multiple ways to make amends. Here is a partial list:
Acts of charity
Supporting the church either with money and or your God Given talents and time
Good works [like praying for others]
Adoration and Devine Worship
Indulgences [which is a separate topic]
The Sacrament of the “Last Rites.” [Has same effects a does the sacrament of Baptism.]
And if all of these fail to make us Perfect while still on earth; then there is Purgatory; a place of GREAT suffering; and GREAT HOPE, knowing that once we have been perfected; we too will access heaven and meet God “Face to Face.”
Forgiveness of Mortal sin require The sacrament of Confession [John 20;23 above]. This is the norm and the ordinary means that God demands. It requires 1. Humility 2. Contrition 3. Conversion of heart and a Catholic priest. There does exist an “extraordinary form” but that, because it is rare, too is a separate issue.
I do not wish in the present teaching to cover in detail the role of the priest and the sacrament of reconciliation itself. But Know that the priest does have a necessary and essential role, and that it REMAINS God who actually forgives us our sin. The use of priest is carried over from Old Testament times, dating back at least as far as Moses. The role is now expanded as are the responsibilities of the New Testament priesthood in total.
is the most necessary of all the virtues as it encompasses charity, faith and hope. Because “pride is Satan’s key to the lock to our souls; humility is the protector of our souls and our entire spiritual wellbeing. .
is TRUE heart felt; life changing sorrow for having offended God. It is also sincere sorrow for inflicting injury on a brother or sister in Christ. One of the primary task of the priest is to ascertain the presence of “true contrition” within the penitent, before granting absolution.
Conversion of heart.
Contrition [sorrow] to be “true” requires a sincere effort and desire to alter how we actually life our lives. “Avoiding the near occasion of sin” becomes a serious issue and is not to be taken lightly. We are to avoid those things, people and places that MIGHT tempt us beyond our willingness to deny them. We are to take responsibility for out thoughts, our words and our deeds.
The final point I wish to share is that sin itself can take TWO distinct forms.
We can sin both Mortally and in lesser ways in what we choose to do AND WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO, BUT FAIL TO ACCOMPLISH. Sins of “commission” and sins of “OMISSION” are of equal guilt. Lack of charity is a prime example.
Deut.30: 19“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
Sir.15: 17“Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him.”
Oh my God I am truly sorry for having offended thee, who are All Good, and deserving of ALL of my love. I FIRMLY resolve with the help of your grace, to Confess ALL of my sins; to fulfill the penance given to me, and to avoid the near occasion of sin in my life. AMEN!
May God continue to Guide, lead, protect and Bless you,