Answering THE question
A note from the chairman: As I was thinking about a topic for this month’s column, the topic of sanctifying grace kept coming to me. We looked through the files to see if I had written about this and it was among the very first columns I wrote. Because some things bear repeating, we decided to run it again.
Far be it for me to talk about people’s spiritual lives. I am not a theologian and I am much too imperfect myself to be preaching. However, it has always seemed amazing to me that we (or at least I) hear very little about sanctifying grace.
When I was in the ninth grade, Sr. Andrea asked the class, “How do you get to heaven?” I did not raise my hand very often in class and I did not this time. Many others did. One after another, they gave the wrong answer. For example, “by practicing faith, hope, and charity,” “by obeying the 10 Commandments,” “by loving God and others,” and so on.
Sister’s response was, “No, that’s not what I’m looking for.”
So I finally raised my hand, being very surprised that nobody in the class knew the answer. I suppose since I did not raise my hand that often, Sister promptly acknowledged me and I blurted out my answer.
“To die in the state of sanctifying grace.”
“Right,” she said, “that’s the answer.”
Today the answer is still the same. The Church’s teaching on sanctifying grace has not changed. We are business men and women, generally practical people, wanting to get to the bottom line and be successful, so here’s a bottom-line truth that we can be sure of.
Someone once said there is only one catastrophe in life and that is to lose one’s soul – to go to hell. Everything else is relatively unimportant. Why, on the most important question in life, did not the kids in my class know the answer? I suspect many Catholics today do not know it, either.
That is why regular Confession is so important. Chesterton said he became Catholic to get rid of his sins. That is what Confession (or Reconciliation) does. That is why, as a Legatus policy, we have Reconciliation available at the monthly chapter meetings.
The Holy Father urges Catholics to go to Confession at least once a month. Legatus makes that very convenient for us. Obviously, it has to be a good Confession. As we learned long ago, there are five requirements for a good Confession: 1. Examination of conscience (preparation); 2. Sorrow for sin; 3. Confessing all unconfessed mortal sins; 4. Fulfilling your penance (reparation); 5. Firm purpose of amendment. It’s a small price to pay for winning the big prize: eternal happiness in heaven, the difference between being spiritually alive or dead.
There are many ways to enrich one’s spiritual life, but the place to start is getting into the state of sanctifying grace and staying there.
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.