Mortal Sin and Regaining Merit

Okay, so mortal sin clearly wipes away all merit and justification. Clearly all your past good deeds (and ones made in the state of mortal sin) are worthless, at least until confession and absolution. What about after that? Basically my question is this:

Does one regain their past merit after repentance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

In other words, are your past good deeds forgotten by God along with the mortal sin, or are your past good deeds remembered and your sin forgotten? That is, after the Lord resets the groundwork of justification after prompting the sinner to repent and repent he does, does one rebuild merit from scratch or does God allow them to regain some of it? I used to think the former, but I think that might of been based on a false conclusion from true doctrine, and I am starting to lean with the latter (but want to avoid heresy). Therefore, if anyone has any doctrinal citations that would be great!

Well regarding ones advancing in the spiritual life and grace…yes it can happen that confession can return one to where one left off…or can return to a earlier point…or even a higher point…see St. Thomas and Garrigou-Lagranges “Three Ages of the Interior Life”…

depends on the Grace of God and the disposition of the penitent…

(Not sure regarding “merits” …something in me says they may “revive” or perhaps it is like what was noted about the spiritual life and grace…)

What do you conclude from the story of the Prodigal Son? He received a robe, a ring and sandals, all indicative of his former position in the family.


Now the Summa isn’t necessarily doctrinal ;).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit