Although I always thought that prayer=prayer=prayer, now I have discovered that I am wrong. Apparently, the prayers of a person who has mortally sinned are not the same as the prayers of a person in the state of grace. The person with mortal sin cannot gain the merit of his or her prayer, is this correct? (I think that a prayer asking for forgiveness and mercy might be the exception.) If the prayers of said person cannot help himself, will the sinner’s prayers for others be invalid also? Seems like a waste, but if it is true, what’s the point?
The point is: when one sins mortally, to try to make an act of perfect contrition. In other words, consider God’s goodness and repent for love of Him. If one’s contrition is unselfish, one’s prayers will have merit. Of course, we can’t know if our contrition is perfect. When we receive absolution, our sins are forgiven, even if our contrition is not perfect. Note that mortal sin does not prevent God from giving the person actual grace or no one would ever be able to repent. While we cannot receive sanctifying grace while in mortal sin, we can receive actual grace.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.