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Is it possible for a person with a mortal sin still on his soul to die and go to heaven?

Full Question

Is it possible for a person with a mortal sin still on his soul to die and go to heaven?

Answer

No. “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice” (CCC 1033). But it is important to understand what constitutes a mortal sin and the ways mortal sin can be forgiven.

In order for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met: (1) The sin must have grave matter, (2) one must have adequate knowledge that it is a grave offense, and (3) one must commit the offense with deliberate consent (CCC 1857–1859). If one of these conditions is not met, the sin will be venial, not mortal.

There are two kinds of sorrow for sin: contrition and attrition, which are called also perfect contrition and imperfect contrition. Perfect contrition does not mean the perfectdegree of contrition, but the perfect kind of contrition—that is, sorrow for sins based on charity, or supernatural love of God. Imperfect contrition is sorrow for sin based on anything other than charity (such as being sorry for our sins because we fear the punishment of hell and God’s wrath).

Perfect and imperfect contrition are not mutually exclusive. A person can have both at the same time. Both perfect and imperfect contrition assume the resolve to sin no more. Even with this resolve, it is possible to commit the same sin in the future. What is important is that at this moment in time we make a firm resolution to turn away from mortal sin.

Under normal circumstances, for a mortal sin to be forgiven, it must be confessed in the sacrament of penance. If the penitent has perfect or imperfect contrition for his sin, confesses all his mortal sins since his last good confession, resolving not to commit the sin again, and receives absolution from the priest, his mortal sins are forgiven.

What happens if confession to a priest is impossible, and one is close to death or in danger of dying? Provided a person, finding himself in this situation, has perfect contrition for his mortal sins, and resolves not to sin again and receive sacramental confession as soon as possible, his mortal sin is forgiven. Imperfect sorrow is not contrition under these circumstances.













9 comments

  1. Gabriela Reply

    I married a divorced non-Catholic not knowing we would need an anullment in order to get married in the Church (I am Catholic). I now know and I am very, very repentant and remorseful. We are in the process of working for his anullment. We have been married for 14 years. We have four children. My husband wants to join the Church, but obviously can’t until his situation is fixed. I know we could lead a brother-sister life until the situation is take care of but, as a non-Catholic, it is a concept that my husband is still discerning. I cannot force him, I want to lead him to the truth of our faith and he is willing but still working on some issues. What am I to do? I love my faith and my Church and would never, ever leave.

    1. mary ann talley Reply

      go to your archdioces and start your annulment didn’t go thru parish priest. i received mine.

  2. Richard Moore Reply

    My wife and I were in this situation in 2007. We had been married legally for 17 years at the time. She wanted to be married in the church and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist.

    I went to the priest in our parish and requested an annulment from my first marriage. My wife also needed to do some work to get straight with the church.

    She had been married twice before to catholic men, but never married in the church. I am the a cradle catholic and I was married in the church and had to research my ex-wife and have her sign off on our catholic marriage.

    It took about one and a half years to complete the annulment, but then we came into the church and now we receive communion every Sunday.
    It has been 7 years or so and we are happy with our decision.

    I hope this comment will give you the hope & strength you need to carry on with you and your husband’s plans. It is well worth the effort.

    Best Regards

    Richard & Sandra Moore

    1. Gabriela Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to reply. I know it is worth it, but sometimes the wait is just so painful. You do give me hope and encouragement. God bless!

  3. Simba Reply

    hi

  4. Simba Reply

    Hi, I have a question. I’m African and in our tradition when a man pays a dowry for his woman they are considered married by custom. With the emergence of western influence, after the dowry is paid some couples also get married in the church or in court. My question is, are people who who are customarily married (by paying a dowry) or legally married (court wedding) but not married in the church, considered as a married couple? Thanks in advance.

    1. mary ann talley Reply

      in this country to marry you need a license, in your country you are married. to be married legally in most states it’s common law after 7 years. get legal counseling. it’s good to know for your own rights.

  5. Emanuel Reply

    I find it mind boggling how many many sincere christians they rather believe a lie rather than read the bible to learn the truth like i did. how much untruth you find in the catholic church is beyond me. yes i grew up as a catholic but since i started to study the bible very very seriously i found the whole truth nothing but the truth. sin is a sin. there is no such as a mortal or whatever. Paul said the wages of sin is DEATH. no if or buts. I beg you all my fellow christians to study the word for your self. How can you possibly trust your own eternal destiny to a priest,pastor,etc? its beyond belief to trust such a destiny to some body else. Do you think God is going to excuse you for doing such a thing?????

    1. Clem Reply

      Actually confession is in the Bible. Evangelicals and fundamentalists are the scourge of true Christianity.

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