What if…


“What if…”

Although we focus more on joy and peace on earth at this time of year, the students have been filled with a bunch of “what if” questions regarding the topic of sin. It’s easy to teach what actions are considered sinful and what a mortal sin is vs. a venial sin. The issues that the students are having trouble with surround whether they can judge others based on their sins. Here is an example of one conversation:

Student  A: “Ms. Linehan, let’s say that I kill Student B and then die in a car accident on the way home, would I go to Hell?”

Ms. Linehan: “Well, let’s break it down: the action of murdering someone is a mortal sin but there are circumstances that go beyond what our knowledge is. So is murder a mortal sin, yes but can we judge that person based on their action…. NO!!!! Do we know if they are in Hell? We do not.  This is where it gets complicated. Since we can never understand fully a person’s intentions or mental health at any given situation, the only person who can truly judge someone is God and God alone.”

Student  A: “Why am I not in Hell for committing a mortal sin?”

Ms. Linehan: “Maybe you said an Act of Contrition right after you committed the murder. Maybe you had no choice and it was self-defense. Maybe when you were in front of God you were filled with sorrow and regret for having taken a life. Maybe you did not know what you were doing was wrong. These are things that only God can answer. God knows the state of your soul at the time of your death. Let’s look at it another way: the Church does not have any proof of any person, besides Satan himself, being in Hell. Since none of us are perfect we have to believe that God is not only a just God but also one full of mercy and Love.”

Student !:  “But then can we say what they did was wrong?”

Ms. Linehan: “Yes, we can judge an action but never the person who commits that action. God alone is the only judge. We can only be in control of our own actions and know that when we do mess up we are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is up to us to use it.”


The main point that I try to convey is one that our society has forgotten about Catholicism, it is simple: “Hate the sin, Love the sinner”.  We are all sinners, every single one of us, we all make mistakes.  God alone is the judge and we are called by Him to Love no matter what. True love, the love that God is calling each of us too, is not easy and can be painful. But that is a topic for another post J