Brandon asked:

How does the act of contrition and grace work? If you commit a mortal sin and you say a perfect act of contrition, my understanding after reading the catechism is that you are restored to sanctifying grace. If that is correct, what happens at confession then? Are you just infused with an increase of grace?

Tim Staples replied:

"If we theoretically make a perfect act of contrition, now that doesn’t mean that we recite a prayer ... what it means is we’ve got to be perfectly detached from all sin both mortal and venial in order to make that perfect act of contrition and we can never know this side of heaven whether we have or not, God alone knows our hearts ... Part of that perfect act of contrition is the purpose in our heart to go to confession. That’s part of the deal here ... If you go to confession that act as well will cause you to ... grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior ... So even though you are restored and you’ve received grace in your heart we always need to grow in grace. And so going to confession will only deepen you and when the priest absolves you, you will receive even more sanctifying grace ...

Brandon followed up:

What about protestants who don’t go to confession? What do they do? Just say an act of contrition?

Tim Staples replied:

"God judges those that are without. You and I are bound by the law of the Church. We leave that judging to God ... God alone knows the grace he has given to them and what cooperating with that grace means."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: September 10, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Tim Staples

Question appeared in show: 50:37

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