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Moral obligations that are binding under pain of mortal sin. The gravity of the matter is determined by the object and circumstance of the action (or omission) and is known in the first place by the teaching authority of the Church, based on divine revelation. Some sins do not admit of slight matter, and these are mortal sins "from their whole nature" (ex toto genere suo), as lust and blasphemy. In other sins the matter is not always grave, as in theft or injustice, and these are mortal "from their nature" (ex genere suo). In every case, however, for a mortal sin there is also required full advertence of the mind to the fact that the matter is serious, and full consent of the will to do or not do what a person knows is a grave command or prohibition.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.