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Kim Avalon wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have some questions.

  1. Is cursing a venial or mortal sin?
  2. Are words like hell, damn, and bastard considered curse words?
  3. I know if you said it to somebody or you have an intention to curse them, that's a mortal sin, however, are they still considered curse words if:
    • we use it in causal conversation or
    • to express ourself when we are irritated or surprised?

From what I know, the meaning behind these terms are not bad, but using them to curse somebody is bad.

Also, I know a girl who is struggles to overcome sexual fantasies. The hard thing is that her sexual fantasies involved imaginary people, like fictional characters, not herself. I have no idea if this counts as a mortal sin because, when she has fantasies, she doesn't want any of them to happen in real life. She is trying to repent because she feels bad but sometimes the images pop in her head, causing her to think about it for 5-10 seconds, and later she panics.

  1. Did she committed a mortal sin in this situation? . . . and
  2. Can a person receive Holy Communion if they have venial sins?

Thank you,

Kim Avalon

  { What is the severity of cursing in this situation, of sexual struggles, and when can we receive? }

John replied:

Dear Kim,

Concerning your struggles. . . . join the club.

As for cursing, that's lesser offense and is often a venial sin but it depends. Some of us pick up the habit in work environment or in certain circles where people might swear and the next thing you know every other word out of our mouth is a swear. It's certainly not good and we need to try to clean up our act. Sometimes it's done in anger . . . sometimes it's just to hurt someone . . . so our intention sort of plays into the severity of the sin.

Cursing by using God's name in vain is particularly bad. All this stuff needs to be brought to the Confessional and left there.

  • Would I worry about cursing in terms of receiving Communion?

Not at this point, although ask your priest. It sounds like right now, there are bigger issues for you to resolve.


As for the sexual struggles, we all struggle in these areas. We all curse, some more than others. We all fall into some kind of sexual sin at some point. Even if we are celibate:

  • we give in to thoughts of lust
  • we commit acts of impurity such as masturbation
  • some struggle with the way they look at members of the opposite sex
  • even worse they struggle with pornography

All of this injures our soul but there is remedy: frequent Confession. Not only do we receive forgiveness but we get grace and strength through this sacrament if we avail ourselves of it.
The end result is we overcome our struggles by faith.


As it relates to receiving Communion, if you know you're guilty of having committed a sexual sin, then you should abstain from receiving Communion until you first get to Confession. Some sins are harder to avoid than others. Having sex with someone for instance is easier to avoid that masturbation, especially if it is a habit so there is somewhat less culpability because a habit may formed, but again, just take it to your next Confession and bring it up to the priest.

If you are regularly going to Confession, the priest will give you more specific guidance as to the whether or not you should receive Communion after committing certain sins. If you can't first get to Confession but if you are deliberately having sex, with full consent of your will, then by all means, abstain from receiving Holy Communion until you are able to get to Confession.


God is very patient. He will give you the strength and He will get your life in order but you have let Him. You have to ask Him. You need to surrender your life to Him. That's what it means to be Christian.

None of us, really ever do it completely. Even worse, we get the idea that we can stop sinning on our own and that we earn our own salvation. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. We all deserve Hell. The only reason some of us won't go there is because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the Cross with His Blood and if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Remember it is His Work in us. We, however, have to cooperate by first responding to His Grace and beckoning to repent and then by allowing Him to clean up the mess we have made.

God wants nothing more that to give Himself to us. He wants to be in a relationship with us. He doesn't just love us — He likes us and the closer we get to Him, the more we lose our desire for sin and we seek to live for Him.


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