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14. The Quality of Satisfaction

1. A man in mortal sin cannot render satisfaction for hisother sins; for he cannot hold on to one or to some mortal sinswhile effectively satisfying for others. Yet a man who has the dutyof performing a penance imposed in confession is not freed fromthis obligation by reason of a mortal sin committed before theimposed penance is fully performed.

2. St. Paul (I Cor. 13:3) says: "If I shoulddistribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should delivermy body to be burned, and have not charity, if profiteth menothing." Charity is impossible to hold without the grace ofGod, and a man in mortal sin has forfeited that grace. He iswithout charity. Hence, his works have no value as satisfaction,even if offered as satisfaction for old and forgiven sins fromwhich he was absolved before his lapse into the present mortal sinthat stains his soul.

3. Nor do works of satisfaction which are ineffective ordead because their author is in the state of mortal sin, come tofife and exist as true works of satisfaction when he is restored tograce. Dead works lack the power of satisfaction when performed andever afterwards. Yet the performing of good works is valuable to aman in sin; not, indeed, as satisfaction, but as disposing him torepentance, and as setting up a congruous claim for the grace ofcontrition.

4. Works done without charity (which is love andfriendship existing by grace between God and the soul) are not onlywithout satisfactory power, but they are without meritorious value.Such works cannot merit condignly either eternal life ortemporal good. Yet, as has been said, they may make fitting orcongruous the extending of God's mercy to raise their authorfrom sin.

5. Good works done in the state of mortal sin may be said todiminish the pains of hell in the sense that they indicatesomething of good disposition in the sinner; such works at leastkeep their author from doing what would settle him more deeply inhell than he now deserves to be settled.

"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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