Dear Doctimus Prime,
Below are some of the questions a beautiful friend of mine asked and made a good attempt of answering them. It is good you read my diary entry on the Sacrament of Penance to get a full picture <a href= https://fromjaytoyou.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/23-i-believe-in-the-forgiveness-of-sins/?preview=true
Q. When is an act a mortal sin?
A. Three things are needed to make an action sinful: Firstly, it must be a grave matter (for instance, a case fornication or sexual stimulation that leads to orgasm); secondly, full knowledge of it (in this case one must know that sexual stimulation that ends in orgasm is a sin); Thirdly is consent (he or she must allow herself to attain satisfaction our orgasm in this case). If any of these factors is absence, it can lessen the gravity of the sin.
Q. Do you think that it is harder for some to resist temptation to sexual sins than others?
A. I think that if a person is sexually active (even if they’ve only done it once), it becomes harder to resist the temptation. If such persons value their sanctity (because God wants us to be completely free from sin), they will make the effort to resist temptation of the OCCASION of sin.
Q. How does someone make a confession of heavy petting with a friend?
A. When it comes to confession, it is best to state it as it is: “I was involved in heavy petting with my boyfriend/girlfriend that ended in sexual satisfaction even though we didn’t have sex.
Q. Does this mean that heavy petting that didn’t end in sexual satisfaction should not be confessed?
A. If it did not end in satisfaction, it is most likely because the persons fought the temptation and stopped. It also means that they realised their mistake and really did not intend for that to happen. It’s to that end a venial sin. It could be confessed but it does not stop such a person from receiving communion if they couldn’t make it for confession. When a person goes for confession, it’s helpful to ask questions. The priest is also there to teach. He will help the person out if they have any difficulty discerning if a sin is mortal or venial.
Q. We tend to think of confession only as neccesary when one commits sin that stops one from receiving communion. Is that the right attitude?
A. Confession is a lot more than that. It is a place of healing, instruction and renewal. You are healed of the wound of sin, counselled about the consequences of sin and how to avoid it and strengthened by grace not to fall into it in the future.
Q. There are scores of singles who think that heavy petting is okay. So isn’t it just somehow to keep running to the confessional every time a person engages in heavy petting?
A. First, heavy petting is not okay for unmarried persons. Sexual intimacy is a gift of God meant to be enjoyed exclusively in the context of marriage. With that said, if they are serious about spending their life together, they should set ground rules and help each other stay chaste and faithful until marriage. Sexual intimacy outside marriage is simply stealing from one’s future relationship account to satisfy the wants (not even needs) of the present. And you know what happens when you run out of funds?
If this is clarified, it becomes clear what a penitent who is coming to confession for reason of petting is asking for. Remember too that for confession to be efficacious, the penintent must be aware of the gravity of their sin, be truly sorry for ever falling into it and also have a firm resolve never to go back to it (or at least not to expose oneself knowingly to the OCCASION of sin).
Q. What are the sins that can keep you from communion? And what happens if you receive communion after committing them but before confession?
A. So long as a action meets the three requirements I stated earlier, which means it is a mortal sin, you should not receive communion because you’ll be receiving it unworthily. 1Cor 11:27 speaks of receiving the Eucharist in an “unworthy manner” as a profanation of the body and blood of Christ. A profanation is an act of unbelief, an act of disrespect.