Our Lord offers sure avenue to restore sanctifying grace, charity

| Deacon Luke Marquard | January 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

You won’t be alone if your mind turns to the sacrament of marriage during Sunday’s second reading. This portion of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (12:31 to 13:13) is among the more popular of our wedding texts. While it is certainly appropriate to the sacrament of marriage, it also is strikingly appropriate to the sacrament of penance.

When Paul writes about a love that endures all things, a love that never fails, a love that is greater even than faith and hope, he is writing about the supernatural gift of love, the theological virtue of charity by which “we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1822).

This theological virtue of charity is a gift from God, conferred upon us only by divine grace, and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We receive this gift when we receive sanctifying grace. This is the grace first given to us when we are baptized, the grace that is infused into our souls to make us holy and capable of eternal merit, the grace that is necessary for salvation.

Charity remains in us so long as we remain in the state of sanctifying grace, and it is strengthened through reception of holy Communion, participation in the sacramental life, prayer and use of sacramentals.

Our goal is to always remain in the state of sanctifying grace, to always allow the virtue of charity to remain in our souls. Sometimes, however, we fall short of this goal. When we commit grave sin, we fall from this state of grace. When we fall from this state of grace, we lose charity.

It is when we have lost this gift, when charity no longer abides in our souls, when we do not have love, that we become clashing cymbals. We become nothing; we gain nothing.

Without love, nothing that we do is profitable toward eternal life — even those things that seem good and deserving of reward. “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).

Thanks be to God for the sacrament of penance, a sacrament that restores sanctifying grace, a sacrament that restores charity. God’s love for us is so great, his mercy so abundant, that he provides us with an avenue for restoration.

Our Lord is so understanding of our weakness that he established this sacrament of reconciliation. When we humbly and contritely approach the Lord in this sacrament, confessing our sins with firm purpose of amendment and willingness to complete our penance, the Lord forgives our sins, restores us to the state of sanctifying grace, and once again pours charity into our souls.

Let it be our prayer that when in our weakness we lose this most valuable gift of charity, our faith in God’s abundant mercy will lead us quickly to the place of restoration, so that our gifts, our actions, indeed our very lives, infused once again with supernatural love, will lead us to our everlasting reward.

Deacon Luke Marquard is in formation for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His home parish is Divine Mercy in Faribault; his teaching parish is St. Peter in Forest Lake.



Sunday, Feb. 3, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
  • 1 Corinthians 12:31 — 13:13
  • Luke 4:21-30


How has the sacrament of penance strengthened your relationship with God and neighbor? What will you do to reinforce your commitment to the sacrament during this Year of Faith?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures