In Catholicism we are given certain sacramental character and effects after we receive the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation:
Res Et Sacramentum: the abiding purpose, the sacramental character:
- Baptism: Incorporates us into Christ and his Church
- Baptism: Capacity to receive other sacraments
- Baptism: God's life, the life of the Holy Spirit
- Confirmation: Configuration to Christ's priesthood
- Confirmation: seals our souls like armor so that we can be knights in combat for Christ
Res Tantum: the immediate result, the sacramental effects:
- Baptism: Forgiveness of sin
- Baptism: Bestowal of Sanctifying Grace
- Baptism: Infusion of the Supernatural Virtues
- Baptism: Infusion of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Baptism: Conferral of Actual Graces
- Confirmation: Grace of mature, Christian witness
- Confirmation: Grace of spiritual soldiery
My question is: once we confess our mortal sin and receive absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation, how do we regain the effects of these two sacraments that were lost when we committed mortal sin?
The points I hope a good answer will clarify / verify are:
- Is something else needed beyond the priest's absolution? If the answer is no, do all the effects described above came back to our soul automatically?
- One explanation is that mortal sin introduces an obstacle (obex) in the path of Res Tantum but the character (the Res et Sacramentum) remains, like the SPQR tattoo in a Roman soldier. Absolution removes the obex and does not require the soldier to be re-tattooed. Does it mean that the life of the Holy Spirit remains in the Catholic even when he/she is in the state of mortal sin? How do we reconcile the seemingly incongruent idea that the life of the Holy Spirit can coexist with the state of mortal sin? I hope the answer will clarify this point.
- Is there anything we need to do (including certain posture of mind/will/emotion) to help restore those character and effects? Is the posture required for a valid confession enough?
- Given that there are 2 sacraments where Confirmation intensifies the gifts, I'm wondering whether a "re-intensifying" phase is needed post absolution. Or maybe the absolution removes the obex so that the one-time Confirmation does not need to be repeated and that the full effects of the sealing are restored automatically. I hope the answer will verify this, if it is true.
This is a Part Two question to In Catholicism, what happened to the gifts of the Holy Spirit after we committed a mortal sin?
For a background explanation of the Catholic tri-partite theory of sacrament:
- Read this short summary of the theory and the summary application to the 7 sacraments by Fr. Kopp. He also wrote short articles on the theory's application to Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession, Anointing, Matrimony, and Holy Orders.
- Watch the well produced and well illustrated short video series (about 6-9 minute each) from the Aquinas 101 course of the Thomistic Institute on how through God's incarnation Christ gives us a share in His life through the sacraments (Lessons 71-86). Lesson 78 explains the tri-partite theory with application to Baptism and Confirmation (Lesson 79), The Eucharist (Lesson 80), Penance and Anointing (Lesson 83), Marriage (Lesson 84), and Holy Orders (Lesson 85).