Life in Christ
conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the
setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:
When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature
incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his
ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . .
whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or
perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adul-
tery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that
of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the
love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or im-
moderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.
three conditions must together be
met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is
also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”
is specified by the Ten Commandments, corre-
sponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill,
Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false
witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”
The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft.
One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against
parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
Mortal sin requires
presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its
opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently
deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness
do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary
character of a sin.
can diminish or even remove the
imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant
of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the con-
science of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can
also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can
external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through
malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
130 St. Thomas Aquinas,
I-II, 88, 2,
17 § 12.