anon [Submitted on 2009/04/07 at 2:33pm]
I know there’s a way to post questions here that are off the given topic, but I don’t know how, so I hope Fr. Joe will indulge me.
FATHER JOE: I reposted the comment as a new post and thread.
I have a question about whether something is a mortal sin. I’m a recovering alcoholic and have confessed about the times I “slipped” in my sobriety. I used to cut. More recently, my anxiety level has been pretty high and that pattern returned. I’ve already talked to my doctor about help with this, but is it an action that requires confession?
FATHER JOE: Mortal sins require that we are free and that nothing seriously damages the will or consent. Certainly drunkenness is a “matter” of mortal sin. However, an alcoholic is also sick and the addiction impedes freedom. Thus, the subjective situation becomes less certain and must be discussed between a penitent and his or her Confessor. Remember that the Sacrament of Penance is both for God’s mercy and for healing. No matter whether the sins are mortal or venial in nature, I would think an alcoholic would want both forgiveness as well as the graces that would strengthen and heal. Remember, an essential theme of Alcoholics Anonymous is that where we are weak, God is strong. We place ourselves into the hands of a higher power. We are all sinners and we all struggle with weaknesses. When we fall, the sacraments and dedication to perseverance are valuable. Do not give up. Even if you fall again and again, know that God loves you and that you have an immeasurable worth. You may always be an alcoholic; but, by God’s grace, the support of friends, and a desire for healing, you can know sobriety and happiness. Many people have been where you are and they were able to salvage their lives. I will be praying for you!–Father Joe