Updated: Feb 13
Flow Chart of Grace by Randall Grasso The Most Important Thing in Life
What is the most important thing in life? ●
The most important thing in life is to get to Heaven. Why is getting to Heaven the most important thing in life? ● Getting to Heaven is the most important thing in life because it is the purpose for which God made us. God desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pt. 3:9. ● God made us to love Him and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next. ● After death, we enter eternity, where we will forever be united to God in joy in Heaven or forever be without God in torment in hell. How do you get to Heaven? ● To get to Heaven, you must be in a state of sanctifying grace when you die.
What is sanctifying grace? ● Sanctifying grace is the grace that confers on our souls a new life, which is a sharing in the life of God Himself. ● By sanctifying grace, our souls are made holy and pleasing to God. ● Sanctifying grace is an abiding or permanent grace, which we gain by Baptism and lose only by mortal sin.
Why is sanctifying grace so vital to us? ● Sanctifying grace is vital to us because when Adam sinned by disobeying God all mankind lost the friendship of God; that is, we are born in original sin, without sanctifying grace and with no right to Heaven. ● But Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross won back sanctifying grace for us. Sanctifying grace is granted to us freely in Baptism. ● A soul to whom God grants sanctifying grace receives not merely a gift from God, but God Himself. The Holy Ghost lives in him and becomes united with him so that he receives a new life, a new nature. ● Paul refers to this acquisition of sanctifying grace as the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new man. It is as if an old and worn man were to suddenly become a handsome young man full of vigor and life. The beauty of a soul in sanctifying grace is too great for human eyes to bear.
What are the chief effects of sanctifying grace? There are four principal effects of sanctifying grace: ● First, sanctifying grace makes us holy and pleasing to God. ○ When we are in possession of sanctifying grace, we are free from mortal sin; the two cannot dwell together. The fire of the Holy Ghost sears away all that God abhors, so that we acquire God’s friendship. ■ Although free from mortal sin, we do not, however, with sanctifying grace become free from the remains of sin. So even saints feel the human inclination to sin, against which the struggle is lifelong and from that struggle we gain merit. This human frailty is embedded in our flesh and is present in our soul as a result of original sin. ■ Sanctifying grace, although it does not cure us of the weakness of the flesh, strengthens our will so that for us the war against sin becomes easier. The charity accompanying sanctifying grace makes us more prone to good works, more attracted to God, with minds illumined as to the folly of sin. ○ Second, sanctifying grace makes us adopted children of God. ■ With sanctifying grace, the Holy Ghost enters our soul; we are led by His Spirit, and we are therefore His children. “For whoever is led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” Rom. 8:14. ○ Third, sanctifying grace makes us temples of the Holy Ghost. ■ Sanctifying grace brings the Holy Ghost to dwell in us as in a temple. “For you are a temple of the Living God” 2 Cor. 6:16. ○ Fourth, sanctifying grace gives us the right to Heaven. ■ When we are in sanctifying grace, we are inspired to do good works. The Holy Ghost does not sleep within us, but He expands our heart with His grace and urges our will to do good. And since we are adopted children of God such actions become meritorious for Heaven. ■ If we are children of God, we are at the same his heirs, and therefore have a right to His Kingdom. See Rom. 8:16-17.
Why is sanctifying grace necessary for salvation? ● Sanctifying grace is necessary for salvation because it is supernatural life, which alone enables us to attain the supernatural happiness of Heaven. ○ The presence of God in the soul gives it life. When the Holy Ghost is dwelling in the soul it is enabled to know and love God and to do supernatural works. ○ But without sanctifying grace, the soul is without God. Without God, the soul becomes the devil’s property. ● One cannot gain any merit for Heaven if he is not in sanctifying grace. This is called “in the state of grace.” Without sanctifying grace, one is an enemy of God and cannot enter His Kingdom. ○ Mortal sin makes the soul displeasing to God and thus deprives it of sanctifying grace.
Aren’t we all born with sanctifying grace? ● Only the Blessed Virgin Mary (who was conceived in the state of sanctifying grace) and John the Baptist and Jeremiah the prophet (who were sanctified in the womb) were born with sanctifying grace.
How did Adam and Eve receive sanctifying grace? ● God bestowed on Adam and Eve, our first parents, the gift of sanctifying grace (the state of innocence and holiness), which made them children of God and gave them the right to Heaven. God gave them many other gifts besides. How did Adam and Eve lose sanctifying grace? ● God gave Adam and Eve the commandment not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree that grew in the Garden of Paradise. ● But Adam and Eve did not obey the commandment of God and ate the forbidden fruit. ● Because of their sin, Adam and Eve immediately lost God’s abiding grace and friendship, their holiness and innocence. They lost sanctifying grace, the right to Heaven and to see God. They also became subject to death, to suffering, and to a strong inclination to evil. What has happened to us because of Adam’s sin? ●
Because of Adam’s sin, we, his descendants, come into the world deprived of sanctifying grace and inherit his punishment as we would have inherited his gifts if he had been obedient to God. ● This sin in us is called original sin because it comes down to us through our origin, from Adam. ● Every descendant of Adam comes into the world totally deprived of grace through inheriting Adam’s sin as the head of the human race. ● Thus, all men are born in sin (except as stated above). This means that they are born without the friendship of God and with no right to Heaven. There are other punishments of Adam that we inherit through original sin. ● Only one human person was preserved from original sin from conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in view of the merits of her Divine Son, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.
How do we who are born deprived of sanctifying grace obtain it? ● We who are born deprived of sanctifying grace obtain it through the sacrament of Baptism. ● Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become Christians, children of God, and heirs of Heaven. ● The sacrament of Baptism was instituted by Jesus Christ at his own Baptism and commanded at His Ascension. ● The sacrament of Baptism confers grace. We know this because Jesus told Nicodemus that “Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” John 3:5. See also, Acts 2:38. What are the effects of Baptism? ● Baptism washes us from original sin while imparting sanctifying grace into our souls; it makes us Christians, children of God, with a right to the Kingdom of Heaven. ○ Baptism is the only sacrament that can remit original sin. It cleanses us from all sin, original and actual, and remits all punishment due to sin. ○ If an adult dies immediately after Baptism he goes straight to Heaven, whatever sins he may have committed. “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” Mk. 16:16. ○ When Baptism takes away original sin it gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace. Thus, by Baptism we are born again. ○ By Baptism we become members of the Church (the Mystical Body of Christ) and adopted children of God. We are given the right to enter Heaven and to gain merits by our good works that are done in a state of grace. Baptism also entitles us to receive actual graces from God that we need to live a Christian life. ○
Baptism imprints an indelible sign or character on the soul. This character marks us as Christians and cannot be removed by anything, even mortal sin. We can only be baptized once. “For all you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” Gal. 3:27. Is Baptism necessary for salvation? ● Baptism is necessary for salvation of all men because Christ has said, “Unless a man is born again of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5. ○ From the time of Christ this has been the unequivocal teaching of the Church. This is because only Baptism can remit original sin. No one with any taint of sin can enter Heaven. 21:27. ● One who through no fault of his own has not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what has been called the Baptism of blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith or through the Baptism of desire when he loves God above all things and desires to do all that is necessary for his salvation.
But Baptism is the ordinary means ordained by God the Son by which original sin is forgiven and someone obtains salvation.
Can we lose sanctifying grace once we obtain it? ● Someone loses sanctifying grace when he commits just one mortal sin after Baptism. This is called “falling from grace.” See below. Can we regain sanctifying grace if we commit a mortal sin after Baptism? ● Sanctifying grace can be regained through the sacrament of Penance or by making an act of perfect contrition. ● Penance is the sacrament by which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution of a priest. The penitent can thus know objectively that God has pardoned him, and he is again in the state of grace. ● We must receive the sacrament of Penance because Jesus Christ commanded it when He said to the Apostles and to their successors in the priesthood, “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose sins you retain they are retained.” Jn. 20:22-23. What if someone is unable to receive the sacrament of Penance? ● Someone who is unable to receive absolution from a priest can make an act of perfect contrition for the forgiveness of his sins. ● Contrition is perfect when the sinner is sorry for his sins because sin offends God. ● If one makes an act of perfect contrition after having committed a mortal sin and then dies before being able to go to confession, he is saved from hell by the act he made. ● An act of perfect contrition takes away sin immediately, but it will not allow the penitent to receive Holy Communion. For that he needs the sacrament of Penance.
What is mortal sin? ● Mortal sin is a grievous offense against the law of God. ● Any willful thought, word, action, or omission in serious violation of God’s law is a mortal sin. Examples are idolatry, blasphemy, willful murder, fornication, adultery, theft, lying, etc. Every willful violation of any of the Ten Commandments is a mortal sin. ● Jesus told us that the entire moral law, all our duties toward God and our neighbor are summed up in the commandments that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. 22:36-40. ● Mortal sin occurs as soon as God is no longer our end in our thoughts, words, and actions. ● Each mortal sin insults God by rebellion or disobedience, by ingratitude, and by contempt. ● Circumstances of our sin will enhance or decrease the guilt of the sin.
Why is this sin called mortal? ● This sin is called mortal or deadly because it deprives the sinner of sanctifying grace, the supernatural life of the soul. ● Without sanctifying grace, the soul is displeasing to God, unclean, and can never behold Him or be with Him in Heaven. ● Without sanctifying grace, the soul is without God, and without God the devil makes the soul his dwelling. ● The sinner loses charity towards God and his fellow-men, and by the weakening of his will and the darkening of his intellect he is liable to fall into other mortal sins. ● Without sanctifying grace, the soul is truly “dead” (hence the term “mortal”), and if an adult dies in that state, he will suffer the torments of the damned.
What else does mortal sin do to the soul? ● Mortal sin makes the soul an enemy of God and a stranger to divine love and to love of neighbor. ● It takes away the merit of all its good actions; none of them will help him to Heaven until he gives up his state of mortal sin. ● It deprives the right to everlasting happiness. If a man dies with only one mortal sin on his soul goes to hell forever. ● It makes it deserving of everlasting punishment in hell. ● Mortal sin presupposes a hatred of God.
What makes a sin mortal? ● To make a sin mortal, three things are necessary: ○ The thought, desire, word, action, or omission must be seriously wrong or considered seriously wrong. The matter must be grave, something very important, like breaking one of the Ten
Commandments. ○ The sinner must be mindful of the serious wrong. He must have full knowledge and reflection or attention and know that what he has done is serious. ○ The sinner must fully consent to it. He must do it of his own free will, saying deliberately, “I will do this.” Is mortal sin a great evil? ● Mortal sin is great evil. It is the greatest evil in the world because it separates us from God. ● It is rebellion against and contempt of God. ● It is crucifying Christ again. ● It is so bad that it made the just and merciful God create hell for the everlasting punishment of the rebellious angels and of sinners who die with even only one mortal sin on their soul. What are venial sins? ● Venial sin is a less serious offense against the law of God, which does not deprive the soul of sanctifying grace, and which can be pardoned even without a sacramental confession. ● Examples are impatience, slight fault finding, and lies that harm nobody. ● Venial sins are pardonable sins. ● If a person is in a state of grace, venial sins are forgiven in many ways without the necessity of confession, most especially through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Do venial sins harm us? ● Venial sins harm us by making us less fervent in the service of God by weakening our power to resist mortal sin and by making us deserve God’s punishments in this life or in Purgatory where we are deprived of Heaven for a time. Did God abandon man after Adam fell into mortal sin? ● God did not abandon man after Adam fell into sin but promised to send into the world a Savior to free man from his sins and to reopen to him the gates of Heaven. ● This promise was made to Adam before God sent him out of Paradise. Who is the Savior of all men? ● The Savior of all men is Jesus Christ. ● Men knew the Savior by certain signs that God revealed through the Prophets. ● The Prophets revealed the Savior’s advent, His Person, and His Sufferings ● All the prophecies about the Savior were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. ● He is the Redeemer; the Savior that God in His mercy had promised.
What is the chief teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus Christ? ● The chief teaching of the Catholic Church’s teaching about Jesus Christ is that He is God made man. ● He is God because is the only Son of God, having the same divine nature as His Father. ● He is man because He is the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and He has a body and soul like ours. How is Jesus Christ the Savior of all mankind? ● Jesus is the only sacrifice for our sins. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. ● Jesus, the divine Son of God, has told us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” Jn. 3:16. ● In summary: In Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who atoned for our sins by dying on the Cross, and who rose again for our salvation, salvation is offered to all people as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.
How do we receive the gift of salvation? ●
We receive the gift of salvation when we repent of our sins, believe the Gospel, and are baptized. Is it necessary to be Catholic to be saved? ● The Catholic faith is the religion that God revealed through Jesus Christ and is the only religion worthy of belief. ● Jesus established the Catholic Church, which all are obligated to join. Jesus declared that all men must believe and be baptized (that is, belong to His Church) to be saved. ● Jesus, the divine Son of God, established the Catholic Church to teach in His name, empower us by His grace, and to restore us to salvation if we fall. ● The Catholic Church is our Holy Mother, the mystical body of Christ, the spotless bride of Christ, the sacrament of salvation and the ark of salvation. God willed that the Catholic Church exist to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all men. ● In the Catholic Church alone there is the fullness of Christian truth and sacramental life, communion with the Body of Christ, and the perfection of divine love. ● It is a divinely revealed truth that there is no salvation outside or apart from the Catholic Church. Can a Catholic cut himself off from the Church and be lost? ● Through his free will a Catholic can cut himself off from the Church through heresy, apostasy, or excommunication. ● A Catholic can also commit mortal sin. A Catholic in mortal sin is a “dead member” because his soul is dead in sin. If he remains in that state until death he will be lost forever.
Can non-Catholic Christians be saved? ● It is possible for a non-Catholic Christian to be saved. If anyone is saved it is through the Catholic Church by Baptism or by grace, and not by his erring sect or religion. A Christian who acts in good faith and has been brought up in non-Catholic surroundings and who does not oppose the Catholic faith, is a material heretic. He is not morally guilty for professing what may be objectively heretical doctrine. He may be saved by making an act of perfect contrition and avoiding all mortal sin until death. ● But a non-Catholic Christian (or any other person) who knows that the Catholic Church is the true church, but refuses to enter it, cannot be saved. He is a formal heretic who is sinfully culpable for his outright denial or positive doubt regarding a truth that the Catholic Church has proposed as revealed by God. Such a one has gravely sinned against God. The fate of one dying in mortal sin is eternal separation from God in hell.
Can someone be saved who has never heard of Jesus? ● Anyone can know by his reason that God exists because of the existence of the world, the order and harmony of the universe, and the testimony of conscience. Thus, a person is bound to seek after God, who is also seeking him, and he is bound to love and serve God when he finds Him. ● The salvation of those in this state is a mystery known only to God. ● One can not die without grace, and all are sinners, meaning Christ would have to give the grace of perfect contrition to a soul dying without baptism for it to be saved.