Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascension Presents So a little while back, someone had asked the question:
“Can I pray if I am in mortal sin?” That’s a great question.
Short answer: yes So if that’s all you wanted, you can stop
the video right now and move on to something else but if you want a deeper answer,
let’s keep rolling with this one. First of all, what is sin? Great question. I think a lot of times we look at sin and we can say that sin is like when I
break a rule—that makes sense and that’s not a bad way to look at sin.
God has made us his nature known that he is love and he is life and he is truth
—all these things— so if I violate that nature of God, I work against love, I use someone, if I work against life, there’s death or hurt, if I work against truth and there’s someone in deception or lying, then I’m violating the nature of God. God’s also revealed human nature, what corresponds with human flourishing, not only as an individual but also in relationship with others and so if I violate those things, then that makes sense I’m breaking that rule and that’s a sin. Another way to think of sin is sin actually comes from an old archery term meaning “to miss the mark”. So I know that God has a purpose for my life,
a plan for my life and if I’m living in such a way, where I’m off track, or I’m missing that target, then it’s like a sin. So God has made his nature known,
he’s revealed to us our nature,
but here’s what he’s also done: He’s also revealed his will. In revealing his nature and revealing our nature, he’s also, in addition, revealed his will, which means what? What he wants. And one of the things that God wants for us and with us more than anything else, is he wants to be in relationship with us.
That’s what God wants more than anything else and he wants us to be in a relationship— right relationship—with other people. So God’s revealed his nature, our nature, and what he wants—his will. He’s done this through Scripture and through Tradition. He’s done this through the Bible and through the Church. At the heart of every sin, and yes, it is missing the mark and yes, it breaking the rule, but I’d say even more. At the heart of every sin, is when we look at the Lord and we say, “God, I know what you want, but I want what I want and I’m gonna do what I want.” Sometimes we think, “How could it be a sin? It didn’t hurt anybody. “How could it be a sin? Because I didn’t like have this violent anger in my heart towards God or towards someone else.” You don’t have to. Sin can be even like the most lukewarm “I don’t care at all” attitude. “God, I know what you want.
I just don’t care.” What that does is this: If it’s a small kind of sin, it’s the smallest thing, it wounds our relationship, doesn’t that? I mean, if you were to say to someone else on a small level, “I know what you want, I want to do what I want to do,”
that would wound, not strengthen the relationship. If it was on a more significant level, something really, really serious, or the person to whom you’re speaking, you actually owe something to, that could actually even break the right relationship with that person. The same is true for God.
Now here’s the thing: Nothing we can do can fully BREAK any kind of relationship with God. We’re born into some kind of relationship with God but not RIGHT relationship. In fact, what baptism does is—one of the many things baptism does—is it brings us into right relationship with God. Now when I sin, mortally, severely, significantly, I break that right relationship with God, but here’s God: God is constantly in relationship with all of us. What I mean by that is, he’s always giving us and he’s always offering us grace. He’s always offering us grace, even before you’re baptized, he was offering you grace Even after you’re baptized, he’s offering you grace. Even if you’ve broken that relation with God, he’s offering you grace In fact, the Catholic theology on this is this: every time you and I go to pray, it’s always going to be a response, that none of us are ever initiators of prayer to God.
It’s always God initiates and invites us to pray and if you ever pray EVER, it’s always a response to God, which means a couple things: One, is you never have to fight to get God’s attention.
If you want his attention, that’s because he is inviting you to give him your attention. Secondly, is when we go to confession, I think sometimes we have this—I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again— sometimes we have this image when we go to confession as if we go before the Lord and say, “God, please, please, please give me another chance.
I promise I’ll be good. Give me another chance.” The exact opposite is true. When you go to confession, it’s actually God saying to you, “Please give me another chance.
Give me another chance to love you, “give me another chance to have mercy on you, “give me another chance to bring you into right relationship with me.” Because why? Because the number one thing God wants with us
is he wants to be in relationship with us. That’s why sin is so awful because even the small sins—they wound that relationship and there are such a thing as small sins.
In fact, in 1 John Chapter 5, St. John says this. He says, “If you see a brother sinning,” says, “if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God “and God will give him life.” No, “This is”, he clarifies, he says, “This is only for sin that is not deadly. “There is such a thing as deadly sin about which I do not say you should pray. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” OK, so that’s important to know, that there’s such
a thing is what we call venial sin, such a thing that’s called deadly sin or mortal sin. Now venial sin can wound that right relationship with God. Mortal sin will break that right relationship with God. So what if I find myself having broken that right relationship with God, can I talk to him? Yeah absolutely.
Why? Because we just said this: All prayer is a response. If after having broken that right relation with God, you want to pray, that’s because God is interacting with you, that’s because God is inviting you to that relationship again, because God is inviting you to restore that relationship again. So whether you’re called to pray, whether you’re called to serve, like you’re gonna serve someone in Christ’s name saying, “But I’m in mortal sin. I can’t do that.”
No, you have to. Why? Because it’s God’s grace that enables you to serve in the first place. He’s inviting you to do this. If you want to go to confession, you realize this is God’s grace moving in you to go back to confession. But two things we typically do.
One is we disqualify ourselves: “I can’t do that. I couldn’t possibly come before the Lord right now because I’m in sin.” Second thing is we say, “You know what?
I’ve already sinned once, I have to go to confession, “I might as well not even try.
I might as well just keep sinning.” I would say, OK, I understand the temptation to that but realize that even in a state where you’ve broken that right relationship with God,
if you choose virtue, you grow in virtue. If you choose to say no to vice,
you’re growing in strength, you’re growing in grace. Because why? Because God’s grace is always, always available to us even if we’re not in that right relationship with God. Here’s the last thing. What can I do if I find myself right now in a state of mortal sin? Look at 1 John 1:9. 1 John 1:9 says this,
“If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just “and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.” First thing: acknowledge your sins. He’s faithful and just and will begin to cleanse us from every wrongdoing. Now secondly, if you’re Catholic, what you need to do is, OK, I need to make a note of where am i intending to go to confession? Because yep, I’m going to keep moving forward,
I’m gonna keep praying, I’m gonna keep serving, I’m gonna keep
walking with the Lord, but I also know that Jesus gave us the sacrament of
reconciliation because he wants us to use it. Also in John’s Gospel, Jesus says this. He looks at his apostles and breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven, those whose sins you hold bound are held bound.” So many of us say, “Well, I’ll just do the thing, I’ll do the
1 John 1:9 thing: “I’ll acknowledge my sins before the Lord and he’ll forgive me of all my sins.” Yes, he will, but you also know this, right? You know that he’s given us, we know that he’s given us confession because he wants us to use it. The heart of every sin is “God I know what you want, I don’t care. I want what I want.” Therefore, if you know that God has given us confession and say, “I’ll do it some other way, “I’ll try to do it through some other means” I’m not coming back to the Lord. It’s like trying to come back
to God without actually coming back to God. So acknowledge your sins, plan to go to confession and do it. Third is so important. In the moment where you realize, “OK, that relationship with God exists, that’s all he wants and I’ve broken it,” let him love you.
Really, let him love you there because if we say, “I’m out of right relationship with God, I’m disqualified from his love” then we don’t get his love. We don’t understand his love if we do that. Number one: Acknowledge your sins. Number two: Intend and then do confess your sins in confession. Number three: Let him love you
right now. Yes, you can talk to God when you’re not in a state of grace. Yes, you can talk to God when you’re in mortal sin. Yes, you can talk to God when that
right relationship has been broken and not only can you, but the reality is we have to. So please do. From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name’s Father Mike. God bless.