Summary Against Modern Thought: Confession Must Be Serial

Previous post.

As last week, falling from grace after receiving it happens. Confession is only for the past.


1 However, from what has been said it further appears that a man falling into sin after receiving sacramental grace can once more be restored to grace.

2 For, as we showed, so long as we live here the will is mutable in the matter of vice and virtue. Therefore, as one can sin after grace is received, so also from sin, it seems, one can return to virtue.

3 Manifestly, again, good is more powerful than evil: for “evil acts only in the power of the good,” as was shown above in Book III. If, then, the will of man is turned away from the state of grace by sin, much more can grace call him back from sin.

4 Immobility of will, furthermore, is not proper to anyone so long as he is on the way. But, so long as man lives here, he is on the way which tends towards the ultimate end. He does not, then, have a will unmovable in evil, so that he is not able to return to the good by divine grace.

Notes In other words, if you’re above ground, there is always time.

5 There is more. Manifestly, a man who committed sins before he received grace in the sacraments is delivered from those sins by the grace of the sacraments, for the Apostle says: “Neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers,” and so forth, “shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you am justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Manifestly, also, the grace bestowed in the sacrament does not diminish, but increases, nature’s good. Yet this belongs to the good of nature, that it can be led back from sin into the state of justice, for the capacity for good is a kind of good. If, then, sin takes place after grace is received, man can still be led back to the state of justice.

6 If those, moreover, who sin after baptism cannot return to grace, their hope of salvation is entirely lost. But despair is the way to sinning freely, for the Apostle speaks of some who “despairing have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the working of all uncleanness, unto covetousness” (Eph. 4:19). This is, then, a very dangerous position which leads men to so great a cesspool of vices.

Notes It’s not “one and done.”

7 There is more. We showed above that the grace received in the sacraments does not make a man unable to sin. Therefore, if one who sins after receiving grace in the sacraments could not return to the state of justice, it would be dangerous to receive the sacraments. And this is obviously unsuitable. Therefore, to those who sin after receiving the sacraments the return to justice is not denied.

8 This also is confirmed by the authority of sacred Scripture, for we read in John: “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just. And He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2).

And these very words were clearly being set forth to the faithful already reborn. Paul also writes about the Corinthian fornicator: “To him who is such a one, this rebuke is sufficient which is given by many: so that on the contrary you should rather forgive him and comfort him.”

And later he says: “I am glad: not because you were made sorrowful, but because you were made sorrowful unto penance” (2 Cor. 2:6-7; 7:9). We also read in Jeremiah (3:1): “You prostituted yourself to many lovers; nevertheless, return to Me, says the Lord”; and in his Lamentations (5:21): “Convert us, O Lord, and we shall be converted: renew our days, as from the beginning.” And from all these one sees that if the faithful fall after receiving grace, there is open to them a second time a way back to salvation.

9 In this way, of course, one excludes the error of the Novatians, who used to deny forgiveness to those who sinned after baptism.

10 Now, they used to set down as the occasion of their error the saying in Hebrews (6:4-6): “It is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, and are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance.”

11 But the sense in which the Apostle said this is apparent from what is immediately added: “Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God and making Him a mockery.” Therefore, the reason why those who have fallen after receiving grace cannot be renewed again to penance is that the Son of God must not be crucified again. One, therefore, denies to them that renewal again to penance in which a man is crucified along with Christ.

And this indeed is in baptism, for we read: “All we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in His death” (Rom. 6:3). Therefore, as Christ must not be crucified once again, so he who sins after baptism must not be baptized again. Nonetheless, he can be converted to grace once again by penance. Hence, the Apostle did not say it was impossible that those once fallen should again be recalled or converted to penance, but impossible that they be “renewed”—which one usually attributes to baptism—as in Titus (3:5): “According to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Spirit.”

Categories: SAMT

5 replies »

  1. The Great Mercy

    Betwixt the saddle and the ground

    Was mercy sought and mercy found.

    Yea, in the twinkling of an eye,

    He cried; and Thou hast heard his cry.

    Between the bullet and its mark

    Thy face made morning in his dark.

    And while the shell sang on its path

    Thou hast run, Thou hast run, preventing death.

    Thou hast run before and reached the goal,

    Gathered to Thee the unhoused soul.

    Thou art not bound by Time or Space:

    So fast Death runs : Thou hast won the race.

    Thou hast said to beaten Death: Go tell

    Of victories thou once hadst. All’s well!

    Death, here none die but thee and Sin

    Now the great days of Life begin.

    And to the Soul: This day I rise

    And thee with Me to Paradise.

    Betwixt the saddle and the ground

    Was Mercy sought and Mercy found.

    Katharine Tynan

    Of course, it is presumptuous to think this might happen to us, so, regular Confession.

  2. Granted, that the Novatians were wrong that sin after Baptism cannot be forgiven.
    But, was not Aquinas remiss, in not stating the full quote from Hebrews, as the quote is speaking of those who absolutely and utterly refuse salvation, after being once enlightened … having tasted of the heavenly gift … been made partakers of the Holy Spirit … having tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come … that then it is then impossible to be renewed to repentance …. since they crucify JESUS again and put him to open shame???

    Might not some people then think or believe, that it really does not matter what they do, as they can just repent, so they imagine, with true repentance, when they are dying??? Far better for people to know that a person can get to the state of utter rejection of the salvation of Jesus Christ, after having accepted all that Paul states in Hebrews 6, from which there is no return to Him, to Christ.

    And here is the full quote from Hebrews:
    “? 1Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”
    Hebrews 6: 1-8.

    God bless, C-Marie

  3. Thank you C-Marie. So well put.

    I doubt that Penance is always a Get Out Of Jail Free card, even though some repeat sinners seem to believe their status as ordained permits frequent licentiousness, repaired by a quick Hail Mary or two. Of course, I’m not the Judge, just offering my opinion — nobody knows the Mind of God.

  4. That’s interesting, Uncle Mike.
    I will claim that we can know “the mind of God” in very many things as He’s made it plain in Natural Laws, explicit Commandments, examples and miracles.

    “Who am I to judge”; well, you’re the one that Christ instructed to judge a tree by its fruits. Sure, none of us are entitled to determine the eternal destiny of anyone but! everyone is obliged to identify and censure a crook or pervert whether he is “invincibly ignorant” or malicious.

    Confession is the refuge of the wretched, not the exoneration of the determinedly perverse.
    As I recall, Presumption is one of the sins against the Holy Ghost that is terminal.

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