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Cody wrote:

Hi, guys —

I find my self struggling to understand full knowledge and full consent when it comes to mortal sins.

  • For example, if someone knows something is sinful, but doesn't think of that fact when they perform the action, is full knowledge present?

I'm thinking of cases where a person does something on the spur of the moment, not thinking about the action's sinfulness until it is finished. If they were to have thought about it first, they would have realized it was sinful and then likely tried not to do it, but in this case that didn't happen.

  • Is there any way that this could still be full knowledge?
  • Also, with full consent of the will, does this include situations where someone tries to resist temptation, but then fails?

    For example, they are confronted with a situation and tell themselves not to engage in it, but then they do and right after realized they failed to resist the temptation.

  • Or, is full consent of the will present whenever someone sins by their own free will?

Thanks! I hope you don't mind me submitting a second set of questions. It's just that these two things are hard for me to understand. I understand grave matter but these two seem very subjective.


  { Can you clarify the subjective nature of full knowledge and full consent related to mortal sins? }

Bob replied:


The answers you seek are by their nature subjective as you indicated and therefore there is no clear and cut answer.

A person's consent is often mitigated by compulsions and barriers arising from addictions and other psychological issues.

When you are looking for how to define someone's ultimate culpability you cannot unless you are God, so, we look to God alone to be our Judge and call on His Mercy when we fail. This takes a great deal of trust in His Mercy.

The sacrament of Confession helps us to strengthen our conscience and our resolve to avoid the occasions of sin. We can sin on auto-pilot because we are habitual sinners and haven't done enough to break the cycle.

I have found the greatest weapon against temptation is to pray the Rosary consistently. Sins that seem unbreakable can be broken with our Blessed Mother's intercession and a healthy diet of the sacraments.


Bob Kirby

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