Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Conditions for Mortal Sin

 From Monsignor Charles Pope:

Recent and public conversations about the nature of mortal sin, the reception of Holy Communion and worthiness to receive the Eucharist have shown how some in our culture, even if they accept the concept that sin could be mortal, so limit the possibility of committing it that it barely exists at all in their moral landscape. This is usually done by distorting or blurring the three conditions under which sin is considered mortal. Briefly stated these conditions are:

Mortal sin is:  

  1. sin whose object is grave matter
  2.  which is also committed with full knowledge 
  3. and deliberate consent. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1857)
In all three of these conditions, there is a tendency to endlessly raise questions and doubts as to exactly what each phrase means and demand an exactitude without which we refuse to accept that a mortal sin has been committed. To some degree we humans love to cultivate uncertainty for this helps us remain undecided  and avoid the moral judgement of our actions, which is required of us as free moral agents.  And thus we think, “Well, who’s to say? There are a lot of opinions out there. What exactly do we mean by ‘deliberate consent’ and ‘full knowledge’?” And we forever delay pondering the answers to such things by using our moral reasoning and coming to a mature and adult faith. But God who gave us an intellect and a will is not pleased by this constant shrugging and delaying of the examination of conscience that is our responsibility and dignity to make. (Read more.)

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