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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

Currently I'm in between Confessors and wanted to ask some mortal sin questions just so I know if I must go to Confession this week or if I can wait. If I go this week, it will have to be to a priest that I'm around a lot, but have never confessed to. That makes me embarrassed.

As a result, I would like your opinion on these instances.

  • First, I was in a situation where a friend was telling me of someone's past faults. I thought if I were to engage in the conversation then I would be committing a mortal sin. At the same time, I was embarrassed to say something to stop this part of the conversation so
    I sat there quietly, until I became worried that my silence would be taken as approval.

    As a result, I briefly said that I thought the other person's actions were wrong. All the things I said after that (still as a result of the situation) may have implied a support for something against the faith. I'm not sure if it did but it was likely my intent. This is sadly
    a normal reaction when I become nervous.

  • Also, I have asked priests questions to see if they answer in an orthodox manner, even when everything indicates that they have in the past.

    I didn't know if a certain action would be allowed and so I asked the proper person. He said it was, but the problem was that I asked at a bad time so I instantly began to wonder if I had been heard correctly. Due to the situation, I was embarrassed to ask again but the action had to be completed within the seconds and so I went through with it.

  • Lastly, as I was laying I bed, on my phone (reading about religion) and did something that, depending on my intent, would be a mortal sin. In the past, I have never had that intent or goal, but in this case I may have had a thought, (not an intrusive thought), that indicates that I did.

  • So are any of these mortal?


  { Are any of these situations ones where I committed a mortal sin? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

First, I'm glad your pursuing another Confessor. He should be a good help to you because he will be aware of all the nuances of your situations, and should be able to provide good counsel. Like we say on the AskAQuestion page, we are not priests and haven't been training in counseling.

That said, based on what you have said in your e-mail, no, these are not mortal sins.

The biggest concern I have after reading your question is your disposition toward going to Confession.

Being embarrassed in the Confessional is part of this Sacrament and part of being human. Nevertheless, we should never be afraid, due to embarrassment, to go to Confession whether the priest knows us well, or doesn't know us at all. Believe me, the priest has heard everything before and even if the priest knows you very well and you believe he would be disappointed in what you are confessing, you must bow to humility and share your whole soul with him.

If we don't, we will develop a Judas-type attitude, thinking that the Lord would never forgive our sins. This attitude comes straight from Hell. It is very important to remember that Fr. Joseph, in the Confessional, is not acting as Fr. Joseph but as Jesus in the place of Fr. Joseph.

If I remember correctly you tend to be a scrupulous person. I think it is important to keep in mind what my colleague Eric has said in the past:

Remember that the Confessional is a tribunal of mercy and healing, not of judgment.

The point is not to accuse you or impose guilt; the point is to relieve guilt and apply the balm of mercy to sins so that they might be healed.

A sin is like an injury, and the priest is like a doctor.

For you and all scrupulous people, I would encourage you to discern a mortal sin by the Church's criteria:

For sin to be mortal it has to meet all three criteria:

  1. it must be grave matter
  2. there must be sufficient knowledge, and
  3. it must be done with full consent of the will.

If just one of these conditions is missing, it is not a mortal sin.

I hope this helps,


Anonymous replied:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the reply. It was helpful. So I guess I can receive Communion today.


Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

None of the situations you brought up fall into the area of grave matter or full consent of the will.

I guess the only reason why I hesitate saying there is no problem receiving Communion is because that is a discernment which should be done by a priest and we are not priests.

There's probably no problem receiving Communion, but there's also no problem popping into Confession a little early before Mass; it only takes a few minutes.

You decide what you think is best, but most of all, when going to Confession, be simple, straight, and to the point.

I end all my Confessions by telling the Confessor, I just want to make good, Holy Communions.

That covers everything.

I hope this helps,


Anonymous replied:


I see what you're saying.

I could go to Confession on Sunday, but not before daily Mass.

  • In that case, should I wait until Sunday to receive Communion?
  • Or could I receive Communion at Mass then in Confession explain that I assumed they were venial, but was unsure?


Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous —

You said:
I see what you're saying.

I could go to Confession on Sunday, but not before daily Mass.

  • In that case, should I wait until Sunday to receive Communion?
  • Or could I receive Communion at Mass then in Confession explain that I assumed they were venial sins, but was unsure?

Not quite.

Sacramental Confession is only required for mortal sins, like sins of the flesh: sins that we all will struggle with until we are 6 feet under the ground : )

That said, it is a good habit to mention venial sins in the Confessional, because for all sins we mention, we receive the grace not to commit them again.

Nevertheless, receiving Communion removes all venial sin from the soul. As long as you are not aware of any unconfessed mortal sin you have committed, you may receive Communion.

  • If you don't feel like you should receive Communion on Sunday, you shouldn't until you go to Confession.
  • If you do feel it's OK to receive Communion on Sunday, there's nothing stopping you from receiving Communion daily.

I can tell by the content of your replies, you are a sincere person. That said, just ask the Holy Spirit to mold your heart to do the right thing.

Sincere people are much easier to deal with than those who are trying to cheat the teachings of the Church.

Here's how I handle it. I, like anyone else, struggle with certain sins on a regular basis.
By Saturday, sometimes, I'm not sure how many times to mention a sin, seeing that for all mortal sins, we have to mention the approximate number of times we committed them.

Before I go in, I just say privately, Holy Spirit, tell me how many times I committed that sin. and usually I get a range put on my heart like a few or 1-3, 2-4, 5-6, or whatever.

Just go with that and your memory.

Again, any counsel a priest gives you should override my advice, but that's what I do.


Anonymous replied:

Thanks that's good advice.

I did decide to go to Confession tonight before Mass. I do have one more question.

Often I think about something that displays an attitude I consider sinful, but that I haven't tried.

I may have once before, before entering the Church, but have never confessed it. I end up debating whether it really was a mortal sin or not. Well, when such [thoughts/feelings] come up
I argue against them. Part of me feels like mentioning them in Confession, but at the same time
I get embarrassed at how to present the issue to the priest. I don't feel comfortable saying:

"I did x."

because that's an attitude I either don't have or do not consent to.

As a result, I'll be inclined to give a rambling explanation how I don't really agree with this said attitude.

  • So what should I do with this?


Mike replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

I'm not sure I understood everything you said but I think this will help.

I took it from a previous answer:

Think of it this way, if a soldier has three pieces of shrapnel in his leg but doesn't tell the doctor about the one piece of shrapnel in his upper thigh region near his privates because it is embarrassing, the inflection will get worse, and with time, an importance part of his body will get diseased. You don't want that spiritually.

If you mention all known mortal sins in the Confessional that you are aware of, you should rest in peace knowing your soul is totally clean. Small venial sins are removed when you receive Holy Communion. All sins prior to when you because a Catholic were forgiven when you entered the Church.

If your gut is telling you to consider mentioning a certain sin, you should probably bring it up in Confession — not that it's a mortal sin, but something you wish receive spiritual help for in that area.

When the priest says I absolve you, it is not the priest, but Jesus using the body and mouth of the priest.

If we don't trust the Church, we are not trusting in the Lord.

What you should do is look for a good spiritual director who is faithful to the Church.


Anonymous replied:

Thanks Mike,

I ended up confessing the sin I was curious about.

I will look for a good spiritual director.

I think I know a good priest for that role.


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