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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Saved or Unsaved

by Catherine Frakas 25 Apr 2001

Saved or Unsaved QUESTION from Russ Magowan Jr. on December 29, 2002 To Bro. Ignatius;
My father,who is not a Catholic or a believer,has been living with a Catholic woman now for five years. Joan goes in her room each and every night and prays for an hour. Joan also attends Mass each and every Sunday. I have no way of knowing if she goes to confession or not?
The Apostle Paul, when writing to the church in Ephesus, says this in Ephesians 5:3-5 But among you (Christians)there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,or of any kind of impurity,or greed, because these are improper for GOD'S people. Nor should there be obscenity,foolish talk or coarse(dirty) joking,which are out of place,but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: no immoral,impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of CHRIST and of GOD.
And also Paul speaking to the church (Christians) in Corinth as follows; 1st Cor 6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of GOD? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of GOD. And that is what some of you (Christians) were.(passed tense)
Do not be deceived is key! When a person merely goes through the mechanics of orthodoxy,it would seem that this person is deceived according to the holy scriptures.
It would appear to me that Joan has made the choice to live in a state of unrepentant mortal sin. Religious but Lost. This is my take on the matter!!
Question: If Joan died this very minute,(and had not been going to confession)would she go to Heaven or Hell? If Joan died this very minute (and had been confessing this sin to a Priest) would she go to Heaven or Hell? Please explain. Thank you!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 31, 2002 Dear Mr. Magowan:
From what you describe this person appears to be risking her soul. But you CANNOT make a judgement of her soul. You or I have no business and no authority and no competence to have a take on the state of her soul.
Only God knows for sure the state of anyone's soul.
When people act sinfully we can admonish them due to the behavior we see. We can instruct them on the moral course they should be taking. We can warn them that their behavior risks their soul to hell. But we CANNOT determine that they will actually go to hell.
Remember the Church teaching on Mortal Sin. A GRAVE Sin may not be Mortal.
There are three requirements for a sin to be mortal. ALL three of these elements MUST be present for mortal sin to exist.
1) the sin must be Grave (fornication, concubinage, etc. is Grave)
2) the person must know that the sin is grave.
3) the person must have freedom of consent to deliberately decide to commit the sin despite knowing that it is grave to do so.
In your description of the behavior of this person, #1 is certainly true; #2 should also be true; but we do not know about #3.
The Church in the Catechism says:

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It 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 of heart[133] do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin. 1860 Unintentional ignorance 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 conscience 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.

This principle of diminished responsibility is reflected again at paragraph 2352:

To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability. There can be many reasons why this person, though apparently living in objective grave sin, may not have this sin accounted to her as mortal. Only God knows; we cannot judge.
.... it is a serious risk.
Those who are in position to do so, should warn her that she is risking her soul. DO NOT tell her she is going to hell for we cannot say that. But we CAN say, You are risking your soul to hell if you continue this behavior. Repent.

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