Faith/Spirituality Forum: Regaining Grace after confession?
Regaining Grace after confession? QUESTION from RAMi MAdanat on December 3, 2002 I know that after baptism or being reconciled in the sacrament of reconciliation, we receive sanctifying grace. I also know that throughout the course of our lives, God moves us with actual graces in order to retain our Sanctifying grace. If we respond to these actual graces, we can avoid sin, and we get an increase of Sanctifying grace. Also, when a person in a state of Sanctifying grace and receives Eucharist, his Sanctifying grace increases. My question is primarily this: If after attaining a relatively high level of Sanctifying Grace, one mortally sins, and is then reconciled (in confession), where does his state of grace start again? Does this person have to start over with the initial amount of grace received, or does he start at the same level he fell off?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 22, 2002 Dear Mr. MAdanat:
I am not sure of the answer here. This is a highly technical theological question dealing with the ontology and very nature of grace.
Certainly we lose the grace needed to enter heaven when we sin mortally. In sinning mortally we lose the virtue of charity and the gifts of the Spirit (according to Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. But other virtues such as faith and hope can still exist.
The Sacrament of Confession retores the grace needed to reach heaven and restores the virtue of charity and the gifts of the Spirit.
Whether one starts over at ground zero or not, I do not know. Certainly if mortal sin is committed frequently spiritual growth and maturity will be hampered.
It is my sense that as good Catholics who may sin but confess that sin at the next opportunity that we are not necessarily starting from zero in our spiritual growth, but that God's grace restores us back to near where we were before the sin, if not back to the same level. This is presuming only occassional mortal sin.
But certainly if we sin and remain in sin without Confession intended as soon as possible, then we will begin to fall backwards in our spiritual growth and maturity since our souls are not receiving the grace to grow.
This is my sense of it, but a theologian out there may be able to give a more accurate answer.
I believe, however, we should not think in terms of I was at a high level of grace and because I sinned I must start over to build that grace up. That smacks to me of pride.
We should be happy to have sufficient grace to reach heaven through purgatory.
Live the best life you can. When you sin, confess it. This process of falling and healing, falling and healing, can lead us to higher graces and maturity. The lives of the Saints show us that.
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