Hi, Alex —
Thanks for the question.
- Are having impure
thoughts a mortal sin?
Unless you are opening yourself up
to occasions or settings that are
conducive to having impure thoughts,
No. For example:
If we see something inadvertently on T.V. or in public, we can't be culpable for an unplanned event. For example:
- If I go to my town's parade and unexpectedly find some very lightly clad young women who are marching cheerleaders with the football team, or
- If I saw something on T.V. of a sexual nature that I didn't expect.
I certainly can't be at fault for what I didn't expect.
On the other hand, if you open yourself up to occasions or settings that are conducive to having impure thoughts, yes, it probably is a mortal sin, and you should go to Confession before receiving the Blessed Sacrament this coming Sunday at Mass. I say probably, because every mortal sin has to meet three criteria. From the Catechism:
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose:
- object is grave matter
- which is also committed with full knowledge, and
deliberate consent. (Reconciliatio et paenitentia 17 § 12 )
1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding 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. (Mark 10:19) 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.
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 (cf. Mark 3:5-6; Luke 16:19-31) 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.
1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of Hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
Nevertheless, in this sex-saturated culture, if you are unsure, I would go to Confession before Sunday Mass; a priest is there every Saturday afternoon.
The devil, who we believe is real
but like thin air, we cannot see him,
will do everything to put impure
thoughts in our mind. Praying the
Rosary on a regular basis can be
a powerful weapon again him.
I would also recommend finding a
spiritual director. He may be able
to assist you in your spiritual needs.
Make sure he is faithful to the Church's
teachings and Holy Father.