Do we get suspended merits when we go back to Confession?
If a sinner hasn’t been to confession for 20 years and then goes to confession and has his sins absolved, is it true that he would get back all the merits for the good works he did during those 20 years once the sanctifying grace is restored to his soul?
When a person has the misfortune of committing a mortal sin, he or she loses all of the supernatural merit that he had previously earned. But when such a person goes to Confession and returns to the state of grace, all of those previously earned merits are restored. There will be no merit, however, associated with any of the good actions he may have performed while in the state of mortal sin, since those were only naturally good acts, without any supernatural basis. Sanctifying grace is the principle by which we are able to perform supernaturally meritorious acts, so none of the acts performed while a person is in mortal sin can ever be a source of merit for him.