Going To Confession, State of Grace and Heaven

Does making a good confession equal being in a state of grace equal going to heaven if you die? Or are works required?

Hi Neil, looks like perhaps you are not Catholic? Catholics stress both faith AND works as we strive toward salvation. Confession is wonderful in that, with absolution, our sins are completely forgiven by God and we are put in a state of grace. However, we must make a firm resolution NOT to sin again, and then of course that takes daily work. The Bible tells us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” and we do so by taking up our Cross daily and following Jesus. It is not, for Catholics, a one-time thing, but rather conversion is a life long process.


I don’t understand. Either a good confession is enough to get into heaven or it’s not.

By itself, lacking all else, no it is not. You do not mention whether or not you have shown any charity throughout your life, or if you have any attachment to sin.

Do you have a catechism? Reallllly good on these things.

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It is enough.

Confessing itself is a good work (it is an act rather than just a passive state of believing)…

EDIT - And the Absolution give us a grace (gratuitous gift from God) that allows us to go to Heaven

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Lets say you haven’t done even one good thing in your whole life, and have lots of attachments to bad things. But on your deathbed you feel sorry, make a good confession, then die immediately after.

So, in other words, you have done absolutely nothing - good or evil - but want an eternal reward?

Try doing the math on that.

How come profound repentance and full atonement for sins is doing absolutely nothing?

Catechism of the Council of Trent on the effects of Penance:

the great efficacy of Penance consists in this, that it restores us to the grace of God, and unites us to Him in the closest friendship. In pious souls who approach this Sacrament with devotion, profound peace and tranquillity of conscience, together with ineffable joy of soul, accompany this reconciliation. For there is no sin, however great or horrible, which cannot be effaced by the Sacrament of Penance, and that not merely once, but over and over again. On this point God Himself thus speaks through the Prophet: If the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die, and I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done. And St. John says: If we confess our sins; he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins; and a little later, he adds: If any man sin – he excepts no sin whatever – we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just; for he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.

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Are you guys for real? There isn’t a simple answer, yes or no?

I’m not sure how this question can be answered any other way.

The answer is Yes.

If you made a good confession and get hit by the proverbial bus, you get to heaven. No ifs, no buts. Because if you made a good confession, this means you were sorry for your sins, both of commission and omission, and you presumably had the resolve to not commit these sins again.

The only question is how much purification you would need in Purgatory, but Purgatory is a temporary state. All in Purgatory are heaven-bound.


This is CAF, and this still surprises you?

People here have a propensity to overcomplicate things.

You are asking trick questions. Are you sea lioning?

Same story. You get to heaven. Your degree of glory will probably be least in heaven but you will go to heaven.

Contrary to what other posters may imply, Catholics do not believe in salvation by works.

Now that said, what you describe is not very realistic. Barring a miracle of grace, it is doubtful anyone who has willfully not done a single good deed in his life would be disposed to respond to the action of grace and even ask for Confession in the first place.

Thank you porthos. After years of being catholic and hearing that we are saved by works, I have come to the conclusion that we are saved by grace, not works, and that our theology of salvation really isn’t so different from other branches of Christianity. That was the basis behind my question.

First and foremost: NOT NOT NOT claiming works salvation. Not. OK? Not.

CONTRITION. The act or virtue of sorrow for one’s sins. The virtue of contrition is a permanent disposition of soul. However, only an act of contrition is required for the remission of sin, whether with or without sacramental absolution.

The act of contrition is a free decision involving a detestation of and grief for sins committed and also a determination not to sin again. This detestation is an act of the will that aims at past sinful thoughts, words, deeds, or omissions. In practice it means that a sinner must retract his past sins, equivalently saying he wished he had not committed them. The grief for sins is also an act of the will directed at the state of greater or less estrangement from God that results from sinful actions. Concretely, it means the desire to regain the divine friendship, either lost or injured by sin. There must also be a determination not to sin again, which is an act of the will resolving to avoid the sins committed and take the necessary means to overcome them.

Four qualities permeate a genuine act of contrition and affect all three constituents of the act, the detestation, the grief, and the determination not to sin again. A valid contrition is internal, supernatural, universal, and sovereign.

Contrition is internal when it is sincere and proceeds from the will, when it is not the result of a mere passing mood or emotional experience. It is supernatural when inspired by actual grace and based on a motive accepted on faith. It is universal when the sorrow extends to all mortal sins, and for valid sacramental absolution there must be sorrow for whatever sins are confessed. It is finally sovereign if the sinner freely recognizes sin as the greatest of all evils and is willing to make amends accordingly. (Etym. Latin contritio , grinding, crushing; compunction of heart; from conterere , to rub together, bruise.)

Note: “take the necessary means to overcome them” - removing or eliminating the attachment to sin. Nothing is mentioned as to the purgation process or remaining attachment to sin.

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One can have a reasonable assurance of the state of sanctifying grace, but not absolute certainty (short of divine revelation). As long as the state of sanctifying grace is present at death, then heaven is the result. Staying in a state of sanctifying grace and obtaining merits will bring a greater Beatific Vision to those that attain heaven.

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It can be rightly said that Catholicism teaches salvation by grace alone. It is unequivocally taught that works do not save us.

We do have a theology of merit, and that’s where works come in. We also know of the role of works in terms of the virtues and acts of mercy, especially the virtue of justice. We could sin, even mortally, by neglecting to do a good work when we are bound to do so (sin of omission), and that breaks the state of grace, and if one were to die in that state, he can go to hell, but not because works save, but because the mortal sin of omission destroys sanctifying grace, which is needed for salvation. That can be repented of in Confession, which includes the resolve to not commit that sin (of omission) again.

It’s taught that Baptism basically qualifies us for heaven if we were to die immediately afterwards, so reconciliation, which is meant to return us to that same state of grace if we slip and fall, should result in the same:

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church . Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.

1470 In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment."



We must keep in mind in any case that God judges by the heart, which He knows far better than we do, and that a mere mechanical manner of receiving these sacraments wouldn’t necessarily effect any change in our status at all. Genuine faith, contrition, etc are the order of the day. I think its always important to keep in mind the most simple, general-and profound- statement that the Church makes regarding our judgment, quoting St John of the Cross,
"At the evening of life we shall be judged on our love."

Love defines man’s justice or righteousness which is why the greatest commandments are what they are. To the extent that we fulfill them our hearts are in the right place, obedience flows of its own accord, and sin is excluded while the law is fulfilled.

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