The value of what you do in a state of mortal sin

I was wondering…some people are in a state of mortal sin but still pray, go to church on Sunday, try to help the others and to accept the sufferings of this life peacefully. But these good works have any merit before God? As far as I know, the answer is no. But, for example, if you pray for someone to get better, or for the souls in purgatory, our prayer doesn’t help them if we are not in friendship with God?
And I also know that when you commit a mortal sin, you lose all your past merits. But when you get back in a state of grace by confession, you recieve them back? And the good works done in a state of mortal sin will never have any merit at all?
Thanks for your answers!

Yeah… You understand correctly. It sucks, eh? :shrug:

Good works while done in a state of mortal sin have no merit.

This may seem strange or unfair, but the truth is that if a person knows full well that they are in mortal sin, (in other words, that they have willfully cast out God from their soul) and continue to do good works as if nothing has happened, (thus ignoring their guilt) they are lying to themselves and to God.

In answer to your second question, yes, you do regain your past merits before mortal sin when you go to confession, but not those done during the state of sin.

So, you want to believe whatever you want to believe, without consideration for Church authority?

Looks like it.

I think its a fair question to ask, for authority on the proposition. I’d never take anyone’s bare assertion, given the many hardcases who are trying to outcatholic each other.

Thankfully I believe we are saved sufficiently and efficiently by Christ’s merits and grace.

But, why would God not recognise and welcome good works from anybody? It seems a rather sad view of a God who does not welcome goodness wherever it occurs, and by whoever does it. Surely it is in such goodness where we mirror the imago Dei.

I was blessed to attend a Quaker meeting for worship yesterday, where the Friends were remembering one of their members who had just passed away. The husband of the deceased recounted how his wife loved the garden and would always be preparing arrangements of flowers. He said that even in the dead of winter she could somehow gather sufficient for a small posy of flowers. He said that was like her view of people - no matter what people thought of others she could always find that bit of beauty, that imago Dei, or, as the Quakers say, that little bit of “Light” in all people. It is said a Christian is someone who finds God everywhere, and the lovely story from the Quaker meeting reminded me very much of that. If we, who are far from perfect, can recognise the good and beauty in others, then how much more can God, who sees past all our successes and failures alike, see the good in people.

God bless +


There is no pick-and-choose. Yes, this opinion is heretical because it advocates justification/salvation by works, which is what Protestants falsely accuse us of believing. We are justified only by grace, which is why the state of grace is necessary to merit salvation.

That said, it is indeed possible to merit “de congruo” even when in a state of mortal sin. This means prayers, good works, etc. of the person in mortal sin, while unable to merit eternal life, can merit actual graces that can lead the person back to Confession and thereby sanctifying grace.

Interesting… Can someone please post a link that answers these questions. I was told that love erases a multitude of sins. I go to confession often b/c I have addiction problems but I have always tried to resolve these issues. Makes me feel after reading this that nothing I have done out of love matters. I finally found my first question on this forum that I do not know the answer to. LOL!!! God Bless!!!

But how can we have charity in us if in mortal sin? The very definition is mortal sin is the absence of charity, which is the supernatural life of the soul i.e. sanctifying grace. If you did something while in the state of grace, then you did it in love/charity. But anything done in mortal sin means you did nothing within charity, because when in mortal sin, charity/love does not exist in the soul. One must be restored first to charity, i.e. sanctifying grace before one’s works can merit again.

having frequently been in a state of mortal sin, I can assure you, I’d don’t do good works because I’m picking up merits-points to cancel a few ten thousand years in purgatory. I don’t look at this as a balance sheet.

“OutCatholic each other” cracked me up. Catholic forums are a breeding ground for it. It seems that “judge not” has been replaced by lots and lots of self appointed Inquisitors.

Please continue. Why do you do good works?


out of an innate sense that they should be done and because that’s what a Catholic does, regardless of the state of his or her soul.

Not to derail this discussion, but Fairwinds, do you REALLY have 2666 posts since April? I have 230 something since 2008.

Exactly my point. I know my heart even more so God knows what is in my heart. When I do something it is more so out of love not so much to erase sins but for charity. Love of neighbor. I find it hard to believe that it was all for nothing. Ex: I fell into sin… someone ask me for help, I help them b/c I have compassion for people. I forgive someone that hurts me, that goes unnoticed b/c I slipped up but make it to confession b/c the guilt is overwhelming b/c I hurt my Lord??? I don’t understand this.

And doesn’t Pope Francis say to ATHEISTS to do good works? He says “We will meet there.”
So, God will recognize your good works if you went to communion this past sunday, but I could do some spectacular good work and he turns a blind eye because I chose not to go to Mass?
Nope, I do not believe it. It seems to limit God.

And that’s precisely why we continue praying and doing good works even in the state of mortal sin because as I said, we can still merit de congruo actual graces that lead us to repentance. In simpler terms, they can move us to reconcile with God and re-enter the state of sanctifying grace.

It must be held, however, that no good works done outside of the state of grace can merit de condigno the grace of justification, since that grace is unmerited. It is impossible to please God outside of the state of sanctifying grace.

One cannot hold that good works done outside the state of grace are salutary; they are not and cannot be.

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