Dear Father Angelo,
I thank you for your precious apostolic service and I would like to take the liberty of asking you a few questions. I noticed, from your answers, that breaking the ten commandments is almost always a “grave matter.” Does grave matter mean mortal sin? Does dying in mortal sin, for the church, equate to eternal damnation? Doesn’t this contrast with the revelations of Saint Faustina Kowalska who spoke to us about God willing to forgive us and save us until the last moment through his infinite mercy? Is the “work of salvation” that Jesus speaks of to Saint Faustina always the confession or can there also be other forms of “salvation”? One for example I think is the “vicarious suffering,” where holy people expiate our faults…. Are the indulgences and Holy Masses offered for deceased souls “works of salvation?” If the distinction between “grave matter” and “light matter” is clear, i.e. mortal sin and venial sin, how come there are so many souls “in the prison of purgatory” (as Jesus always revealed to the Polish saint) and who remain in there for so much time? It would be logical to think that God looks not only at sin but also at good works (as Benedict XVI said “We will be judged by works”) and these are probably “plans of salvation.” . Correct me if I’m wrong. In the light of what has been written, paradoxically, would it be wrong to think that mortal sin is predominantly the personal deliberate, stubborn rejection of God and the Good?
Thanks for any answer you can give me.
I’ll take your questions one by one and then give the answer.
1. Does grave matter mean mortal sin? For there to be mortal sin, it takes grave matter, full knowledge of the mind and deliberate consent of the will. It is therefore not sufficient that there be grave matter for one to speak of mortal sin. There must always be the other two conditions as well.
2. Does dying in mortal sin equate to eternal damnation for the church? Yes, this was also recalled by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and with the blessed is called ‘hell‘” (CCC 1033).
3. Doesn’t this contrast with the revelations of Saint Faustina Kowalska who spoke to us about God willing even to forgive us to the last minute and save us through his infinite mercy? No, it doesn’t contrast at all, but brings in evidence even more that those who damn themselves, exclude themselves from Paradise, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says. God always goes out of his way to save every person, down to the last one.
4. Is the “work of salvation” of which Jesus speaks to Saint Faustina always the confession or can there also be other forms of “salvation”? Grace is ordinarily given with the sacrament of Penance. But alongside the ordinary ways, God also follows other ways, called extraordinary, to lead to salvation. However, these paths always pass at least through sincere repentance of one’s sins, which implicitly includes the intention to confess.
5. One example I think is the “vicarious suffering”, holy people who expiate our fault. Are the indulgences and Holy Masses offered for deceased souls “works of salvation?” No one is saved without personal repentance. The work done by others is not enough. These works can be useful to implore an abundance of enlightenment and mercy in view of repentance or to lessen the penalty of purgatory.
6. If the distinction between “grave matter” and “light matter” is clear, i.e. mortal sin and venial sin, how come there are so many souls “in the prison of purgatory” (as revealed by Jesus again to the Polish saint) and who remain there so long? Because in the heavenly Jerusalem “nothing impure enters” (Rev 21:27).
7. It would be logical to think that God looks not only at sin but also at good works (as Benedict XVI said “We will be judged by works”) and these are probably “works of salvation”. Correct me if I’m wrong. Of course God also looks at the works. But when are our works acts of pure and holy love? They are very often mixed with less noble sentiments.
8. In the light of what has been written, paradoxically, would it be wrong to think that mortal sin is predominantly the personal deliberate, stubborn rejection of God and the Good? This affirmation is clearly contradicted by John Paul II in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, “Even so, care will have to be taken not to reduce mortal sin to an act of ‘fundamental option’-as is commonly said today – against God, seen either as explicit and formal rejection of God and neighbor or as an implicit and unconscious rejection of love. For mortal sin exists also when a person knowingly and willingly, for whatever reason, chooses something gravely disordered. In fact, such a choice already includes contempt for the divine law, a rejection of God’s love for humanity and the whole of creation; the person turns away from God and loses charity. Consequently, “the fundamental orientation can be radically changed by particular acts” (V.S. 70 ). And also, “With the all tradition of the Church, we call mortal sin the act by which a man freely and consciously rejects God, his law, the covenant of love that God offers, preferring to turn in on himself or to some created and finite reality, something contrary to the divine will (converto ad creaturam). This can occur in a direct and formal way, in the sins of idolatry, apostasy, atheism; or in an equivalent way, as in every act of disobedience to God’s commandments in a grave matter” (V.S. 70 ).
I salute you, I remember you to the Lord in prayer and I bless you.