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.”