Loving God and our neighbor together involves both positive and negative aspects:
- practicing the human and supernatural virtues (positive) for love of God as the supreme motive;
- and avoiding all sins, especially the mortal sins (negative) which are the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross.
Hence, it is important that every Catholic knows which are the actions he or she, with the help of God’s grace and for love of Him, must avoid. Below you have a general list of mortal sins which is of great use for all. But first, it would be useful to recall the following:
In order to commit a mortal sin, the three following elements must be simultaneously present:
- grave matter, the moral object or content of the action is seriously evil;
- full knowledge (or full advertence)- one knows what he or she is doing, and its serious evil content;
- and full or deliberate consent – one accepts or tolerates what he or she is doing.
The question arises: WHAT MATTERS ARE CONSIDERED GRAVE?
“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.’ 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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1858).”
Since the ten commandments are formulated in a general manner and to help people discern if the moral object of their actions are of grave matter, below is a list of matters considered grave – without pretending to be exhaustive -, according to compendium of cathecism and the catechism of the catholic church:
1ST Commandment: I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
- Polytheism and idolatry
- Superstition which also expresses itself in various forms of divination, magic, sorcery and spiritism.
- Irreligion which is evidenced: in tempting God by word or deed; in sacrilege, which profanes sacred persons or sacred things, above all the Eucharist; and in simony, which involves the buying or selling of spiritual things.
- Atheism which rejects the existence of God, founded often on a false conception of human autonomy.
- Agnosticism which affirms that nothing can be known about God, and involves indifferentism and practical atheism.
See Compendium 445; CCC 2110-2128; 2138-2140
2nd Commandment: You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
- Blasphemy, curses, unfaithfulness to promises made to God, false oath, perjury.
Compendium 447-449; CCC 2142-2149; 2160-2162
3rd Commandment: Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.
- Not going to Holy Mass during Sundays and Holy days of Obligation without a just motive (e.g. sickness); See Catechism 1389
4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
- Negligence, infulfillment and indifference of the obligations/responsibilites towards one’s children, parents and siblings;
- hatred; ingratitude; disrespect; disobedience in matters concerning the material and spiritual well-being;
- negligence and indifference in the education in virtue and in faith of one’s children.
See Catechism 2114-2118;2221-2229
5th Commandment: You shall not kill.
- direct and intentional murder and cooperation in it;
- direct abortion, willed as an end or as means, as well as cooperation in it. Attached to this sin is the penalty of excommunicationbecause, from the moment of his or her conception, the human being must be absolutely respected and protected in his integrity;
- direct euthanasia which consists in putting an end to the life of the handicapped, the sick, or those near death by an act or by the omission of a required action;
- suicide and voluntary cooperation in it, insofar as it is a grave offense against the just love of God, of self, and of neighbor. One’s responsibility may be aggravated by the scandal given; one who is psychologically disturbed or is experiencing grave fear may have diminished responsibility.
See Compendium 470; Catechism 2268-2283; 2321-2326
6th Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
- Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual actions. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave.
- Direct sterilization, contraception, artificial fecundation
- adultery, divorce, polygamy, incest, free unions (cohabitation, concubinage), and fornication or sexual acts before or outside of marriage
See Compendium 492, 498, 502; Catechism 2351-2359; 2396; 2370-2372; 2380-2391, 2400
7th Commandment: You shall not steal.
- theft, deliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another;
- speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others;
- corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law;
- appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checksand invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation. (CCC 2409)
- slavery (2414)
- disordered desire for money (CCC 2424)
- withholding wages (CCC 2434)
- immoderate love for riches and their selfish use (CCC 2445)
8th Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- Lying (in some cases CCC 2484), false witness and perjury (CCC 2476), rash judgment, detraction, calumny (CCC 2477) , adulation (CCC 2480), violation of the sacramental seal (2490) and divulgation of professional secrets (2491)
See Compendium 523-524; Catechism 2475-2487; 2507-2509;
9th Commandment: . You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- The ninth commandment forbids cultivating thoughts and desires connected to actions forbidden by the sixth commandment.
See Compendium 528 ; Catechism 2517-2519; 2531-2532
10th Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
- This commandment, which completes the preceding commandment, requires an interior attitude of respect for the property of others and forbids greed, unbridled covetousness for the goods of others, and envy which is the sadness one experiences at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself. See Compendium 531; Catechism 2534-2540; 2551-2554
Hence, if a person knowingly (full knowledge) and wantingly (full consent) commits an action consisting of any of the grave matter listed above, a mortal sin is committed.
As the Compendium of the Catechism teaches (no. 395)
This sin destroys charity in us, deprives us of sanctifying grace, and, if unrepented, leads us to the eternal death of hell. It can be forgiven in the ordinary way by means of the sacraments of Baptism and of Penance or Reconciliation.
See as well Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1855-1861, 1874.