'State of Grace' as understood by Byzantines and Orientals

How do we, Eastern Christians from our different traditions understand the latin concept of State of Grace? Without going so far as to say it’s wrong (which is another debate) how should we discuss this amongst our brothers and sisters?

I ran across this old thread which seems unanswered. The poster quotes from a priest whose advice sounds similar to what I’ve been mulling around in my head. God does not spurn a contrite heart, and a sacrifice unto God is a repentant spirit. I think this is what the Jesus Prayer helps for all Christians to do. To remember they are always under his mercy but to take heart in God’s compassion and not become despondent.

If we say Grace is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and lived through our actions and words, what then when we “Fall out of a state of Grace”? Do we lose the Holy Spirit? Certainly when we turn away from God, we confess as Saint Maximos says, not the Father of Love, but the Father of deceit the Devil. Now granted our ability to comprehend the exact actions of the Spirit are probably all in vain, but can we ever completely lose the Holy Spirit if we were baptized into Christ? And when we give over to the Fleshless foes, what becomes of the Holy Spirit within us? And what of Saint Seraphim words that anyone who speaks of the love of Christ is “in the spirit” in conversation to Molotov. Did that mean only when we turn to God, we have the Holy Spirit in us?

So then what is a State of Grace? It seems to imply more of a connection of being pardoned or absolved of sin than any action of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps is means, having been reconciled with the church which seems possible. Since one can be reconciled after his repentance and reconciliation to the Church of Christ and still fall into sin again. But does he “Fall out of a state of Grace”? Was he ever “In a state of grace” ? Or did he sin, and miss the mark, but then repent. Does that still mean he is not in a state of grace? Does that mean because he reads the holy scriptures that night and repents that he is without the Holy Spirit?

Sorry if that was sort of a train of thought, But I would love some help clearing through this all my fellow Eastern Brothers. Thanks!

We Latins believe that the “State of Grace” is a state of being in friendship with God. I’m not sure how helpful this will be to answer your question, but the Council of Trent says the following on contrition and forgiveness:

Contrition, which holds the first place amongst the aforesaid acts of the penitent, is a sorrow of mind, and a detestation for sin committed, with the purpose of not sinning for the future. This movement of contrition was at all times necessary for obtaining the pardon of sins; and, in one who has fallen after baptism, it then at length prepares for the remissions of sins, when it is united with confidence in the divine mercy, and with the desire of performing the other things which are required for rightly receiving this sacrament. Wherefore the holy Synod declares, that this contrition contains not only a cessation from sin, and the purpose and the beginning of a new life, but also a hatred of the old, agreeably to that saying; Cast away from you all your iniquities, wherein you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. And assuredly he who has considered those cries of the saints; To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee, I have laboured in my groaning, every night I will wash my bed, I will recount to thee all my years, in the bitterness of my soul, and others of this kind, will easily understand that they flowed from a certain vehement hatred of their past life, and from an exceeding detestation of sins. The Synod teaches moreover, that, although it sometimes happen that this contrition is perfect through charity, and reconciles man with God before this sacrament be actually received, the said reconciliation, nevertheless, is not to be ascribed to that contrition, independently of the desire of the sacrament which is included therein. And as to that imperfect contrition, which is called attrition, because that it is commonly conceived either from the consideration of the turpitude of sin, or from the fear of hell and of punishment, It declares that if, with the hope of pardon, it exclude the wish to sin, it not only does not make a man a hypocrite, and a greater sinner, but that it is even a gift of God, and an impulse of the Holy Ghost, --who does not indeed as yet dwell in the penitent, but only moves him, --whereby the penitent being assisted prepares a way for himself unto justice. And although this (attrition) cannot of itself, without the sacrament of penance, conduct the sinner to justification, yet does it dispose him to obtain the grace of God in the sacrament of Penance.

Basically, if we are sincerely contrite for our sins (because we have offended God, and not just the fear of Hell), God will certainly have mercy on us :slight_smile: I would say that when we sin “mortally” (break our friendship entirely with God), we don’t lose the Holy Spirit - He stays with us, convicts us of sin, and helps us to repent.

Even though the Latin Church tends to be very legalistic, deep down, it teaches the same relationship with our loving Father that the East does :slight_smile:

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