A: The sacrament of Penance, also called Confession, is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ to remit the sins committed after Baptism.
A: The name of Penance is given to this sacrament, because to obtain pardon for sins it is necessary to detest them penitently; and because he who has committed a fault must submit to the penance which the priest imposes.
A: This sacrament is also called Confession, because to obtain pardon for sins it is not enough to detest them, but it is necessary also to accuse oneself of them to the priest, that is, to make a confession of them.
A: Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance on the day of His resurrection when, entering the Supper Room, He solemnly gave His Apostles the power of remitting sin.
A: Jesus Christ gave His Apostles the power of remitting sin thus: Breathing upon them He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven; and whose sins you shall retain they are retained."
A: The matter of the sacrament of Penance is divided into remote and proximate. The remote matter consists of the sins committed by the penitent after Baptism; and the proximate matter are the acts of the penitent himself, that is, contrition, confession and satisfaction.
A: The form of the sacrament of Penance is this: "I absolve thee from thy sins."
A: The minister of the sacrament of Penance is a priest authorized by the Bishop to hear confessions.
A: A priest must be authorized by the Bishop to hear confessions because to administer this sacrament validly the power of Orders is not enough, but there is also necessary the power of jurisdiction, that is, the power to judge, which must be given by the Bishop.
A: The parts of the sacrament of Penance are contrition, confession, and satisfaction on the part of the penitent, and absolution on the part of the priest.
A: Contrition or sorrow for sin is a grief of the soul leading us to detest sins committed and to resolve not to commit them any more.
A: Contrition means a crushing or breaking up into pieces as when a stone is hammered and reduced to dust.
A: The name of contrition is given to sorrow for sin to signify that the hard heart of the sinner is in a certain way crushed by sorrow for having offended God.
A: Confession of sins consists in a distinct accusation of our sins made to the confessor in order to obtain absolution and receive penance for them.
A: Confession is called an accusation, because it must not be a careless recital, but a true and sorrowful manifestation of our sins.
A: Satisfaction or penance is that prayer or other good work which the confessor enjoins on the penitent in expiation of his sins.
A: Absolution is the sentence which the priest pronounces in the name of Jesus Christ when remitting the penitent's sins.
A: Of all the parts of the sacrament of Penance the most necessary is contrition, because without it no pardon for sins is obtainable, while with it alone, perfect pardon can be obtained, provided that along with it there is the desire, at least implicit, of going to confession.
A: The sacrament of Penance confers sanctifying grace by which are remitted the mortal sins and also the venial sins which we confess and for which we are sorry; it changes eternal punishment into temporal punishment, of which it even remits more or less according to our dispositions; it revives the merits of the good works done before committing mortal sin; it gives the soul aid in due time against falling into sin again, and it restores peace of conscience.
A: The sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation to all who have committed a mortal sin after Baptism.
A: Yes, it is an excellent thing to go to confession often, because the sacrament of Penance, besides taking away sin, gives the graces necessary to avoid sin in the future.
A: The sacrament of Penance has the power of remitting all sins no matter how numerous and great they are, provided it is received with the requisite dispositions.
A: To make a good confession five things are necessary: (1) Examination of conscience; (2) Sorrow for having offended God; (3) A resolution of sinning no more; (4) Confession of our sins; (5) Satisfaction or penance
A: To make a good confession we should first of all earnestly beseech God to give us light to know all our sins and strength to detest them.
A: The examination of conscience is a diligent search for the sins committed since the last good confession.
A: The examination of conscience is made by carefully calling to mind before God all the sins committed but not confessed, in thought, word, deed and omission, against the Commandments of God and the Church, and against the duties of our state.
A: We should also examine ourselves on our bad habits and on the occasions of sin.
A: In our examination we should also try to discover the number of our mortal sins.
A: For a sin to be mortal three things are required: (1) Grave matter, (2) Full advertence, (3) Perfect consent of the will.
A: The matter is grave when the thing under examination is seriously contrary to the laws of God and His Church.
A: Full advertence in sinning is had when we know perfectly well that we are doing a serious evil.
A: Perfect consent of the will is verified in sinning when we deliberately determine to do a thing although we know that thing to be sinful.
A: In the examination of conscience the same diligence is demanded as is used in a matter of great importance.
A: More or less time should be spent in the examination of conscience according to the needs of each case, that is, according to the number or kind of sins that burden the conscience and according to the time that has elapsed since the last good confession.
A: The examination of conscience is rendered easy by making An examination of conscience every evening upon the actions of the day.
A: Sorrow for sin consists in grief of soul and in a sincere detestation of the offense offered to God.
A: Sorrow is of two kinds: perfect sorrow or contrition; and imperfect sorrow or attrition.
A: Perfect sorrow is a grief of soul for having offended God because He is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake.
A: I call the sorrow of contrition perfect sorrow for two reasons: (1) Because it considers the goodness of God alone and not our own advantage or loss; (2) Because it enables us at once to obtain pardon for sins, even though the obligation to confess them still remains.
A: Perfect sorrow does not obtain us pardon of our sins independently of confession, because it always includes the intention to confess them.
A: Perfect sorrow or contrition produces this effect, because it proceeds from charity which cannot exist in the soul together with sin.
A: Imperfect sorrow or attrition is that by which we repent of having offended God because He is our Supreme Judge, that is, for fear of the chastisement deserved in this life or in the life to come, or because of the very foulness of sin itself.
A: Sorrow in order to be true must have four qualities: It must be internal, supernatural, supreme and universal.
A: It means that it must exist in the heart and will, and not in words alone.
A: Sorrow must be internal because the will, which has been alienated from God by sin, must return to God by detesting the sin committed.
A: It means that it must be excited in us by the grace of God and conceived through motives of faith.
A: Sorrow must be supernatural because the end to which it is directed is supernatural, namely, God's pardon, the acquisition of sanctifying grace, and the right to eternal glory.
A: He who repents of having offended God because God is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake; of having lost Heaven and merited hell; or because of the intrinsic malice of sin, has supernatural sorrow, since all these are motives of faith. On the contrary, he who repents only because of the dishonor or chastisement inflicted by men, or because of some purely temporal loss, has a natural sorrow, since he repents from human motives alone.
A: Sorrow must be supreme because we must look upon and hate sin as the greatest of all evils, being as it is an offense against God.
A: It is not necessary to shed tears of sorrow for our sins; it is enough if in our heart we make more of having offended God than of any other misfortune whatsoever.
A: It means that it must extend to every mortal sin committed.
A: Because he who does not repent of even one mortal sin still remains an enemy to God.
A: To have sorrow for our sins we should ask it of God with our whole heart, and excite it in ourselves by the thought of the great evil we have done by sinning.
A: To excite myself to detest my sins: (1) I will consider the rigor of the infinite justice of God And the foulness of sin which has defiled my soul and made me worthy of the eternal punishment of hell; (2) I will consider that by sin I have lost the grace, friendship and sonship of God and the inheritance of Heaven; (3) That I have offended my Redeemer who died for me And that my sins caused His death; (4) That I have despised my Creator and my God, that I have turned my back upon Him who is my Supreme Good and worthy of being loved above everything else And of being faithfully served.
A: In going to confession we should certainly be very solicitous to have a true sorrow for our sins, because this is of all things the most important; and if sorrow is wanting the confession is no good.
A: If one has only venial sins to confess it is enough to repent of some of them for his confession to be valid; but to obtain pardon of all of them it is necessary to repent of all he remembers having committed.
A: If one confesses only venial sins without having sorrow for at least one of them, his confession is in vain; moreover it would be sacrilegious if the absence of sorrow was conscious.
A: To render the confession of venial sins more secure it is prudent also to confess with true sorrow some grave sin of the past, even though it has been already confessed.
A: It is well and most useful to make an act of contrition often, especially before going to sleep or when we know we have or fear we have fallen into mortal sin, in order to recover God's grace as soon as possible; and this practice will make it easier for us to obtain from God the grace of making a like act at time of our greatest need, that is, when in danger of death.
A: A good resolution consists in a determined will not to commit sin for the future and to use all necessary means to avoid it.
A: A resolution, in order to be good, should have three principal conditions: It ought to be absolute, universal, and efficacious.
A: It means that the resolution ought to be without any restrictions of time, place or person.
A: It means that we should avoid all mortal sins, both those already committed as well as those which we can possibly commit.
A: It means that there must be a determined will to lose everything rather than commit another sin; to avoid the dangerous occasions of sin; to stamp out our bad habits; and to discharge the obligations that may have been contracted in consequence of our sins.
A: By a bad habit is meant an acquired disposition to fall easily into those sins to which we have become accustomed.
A: To correct bad habits we must watch over ourselves, pray much, go often to confession, have one good director, and put into practice the counsels and remedies which he gives us.
A: By dangerous occasions of sin are meant all those circumstances of time, place, person, or things, which, of their very nature or because of our frailty, lead us to commit sin.
A: We are strictly bound to shun those dangerous occasions which ordinarily lead us to commit mortal sin, and which are called the proximate occasions of sin.
A: A person who cannot avoid a certain occasion of sin should lay the matter before his confessor and follow his advice.
A: The same considerations help us to make a good resolution as are efficacious in exciting sorrow; that is, a consideration of the motives we have to fear God's justice and to love His infinite goodness.
A: Having prepared properly for confession by an examination of conscience, by sorrow, and by a purpose of amendment, I will go to make an accusation of my sins to the confessor in order to get absolution.
A: We are bound to confess all our mortal sins; it is well, however, to confess our venial sins also.
A: The principal qualities which the accusation of our sins ought to have are five: It ought to be humble, entire, sincere, prudent and brief.
A: That the accusation ought to be humble, means that the penitent should accuse himself to his confessor without pride or boasting; but with the feelings of one who is guilty, who confesses his guilt, and who appears before his judge.
A: That the accusation ought to be entire means that all mortal sins we are conscious of having committed since our last good confession must be made known, together with the circumstances and number.
A: For the accusation to be entire, the circumstances which change the species of the sin must be made known.
A: The circumstances which change the species of a sin are: (1) Those by which a sinful action from being venial becomes mortal; (2) Those by means of which a sinful action contains the malice of two or more mortal sins.
A: If, to excuse himself, a man were to tell a lie and by doing so occasion serious harm to another, he would be bound to make known this circumstance, which changes the lie from an officious lie to a seriously harmful lie.
A: If a man were to steal a sacred object he would be bound to accuse himself of this circumstance which adds to the theft the malice of sacrilege.
A: If a penitent is not certain of having committed a sin he is not bound to confess it; and if he does confess it, he should add that he is not certain of having committed it.
A: He who does not distinctly remember the number of his sins must mention the number as nearly as he can.
A: He who through pure forgetfulness does not confess a mortal sin, or a necessary circumstance, makes a good confession, provided he has been duly diligent in trying to remember it.
A: If a mortal sin forgotten in confession is afterwards remembered we are certainly bound to confess it the next time we go to confession.
A: He who, through shame or some other motive, willfully conceals a mortal sin in confession, profanes the sacrament and is consequently guilty of a very great sacrilege.
A: He who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession, must reveal to his confessor the sin concealed, say in how many confessions he has concealed it, and make all these confessions over again, from the last good confession.
A: He who is tempted to conceal a mortal sin in confession should reflect: (1) That he was not ashamed to sin, in the presence of God who sees all; (2) That it is better to manifest his sin secretly to the confessor than to live tormented by sin, die an unhappy death, and be covered with shame before the whole world on the day of general judgment; (3) That the confessor is bound by the seal of confession under the gravest sin and under threat of the severest punishments both temporal and eternal.
A: By saying that the accusation ought to be sincere, is meant that we must unfold our sins as they are, without excusing them, lessening them, or increasing them.
A: That the confession ought to be prudent, means that in confessing our sins we should use the most careful words possible and be on our guard against revealing the sins of others.
A: That the confession ought to be short, means that we should say nothing that is useless for the purpose of confession.
A: Although it may be a heavy burden to confess one's sins to another, still it must be done, because it is of divine precept, and because pardon can be obtained in no other way; and, moreover, because the difficulty is compensated by many advantages and great consolations.
A: I kneel at the feet of the confessor and I say: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."
A: I humbly bow my head to receive the blessing and I make the Sign of the Cross.
A: Having made the sign of the Cross, I say: "I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to all the Saints, and to you, my spiritual Father, that I have sinned."
A: Then I must say: "I was at confession such a time; by the grace of God I received absolution, performed my penance, and went to Holy Communion." Then I accuse myself of my sins.
A: When I have finished the accusation of my sins I say: "I accuse myself also of all the sins of my past life, especially of those against such or such a virtue" -- for example, against purity or against the Fourth Commandment, etc.
A: I should say: "For all these sins and for those I do not remember, I ask pardon of God with my whole heart, and penance and absolution of you, my spiritual Father."
A: Having finished the accusation of my sins I should listen respectfully to what the confessor says, accept the penance with a sincere intention of performing it; and, from my heart, renew my act of contrition while he gives me absolution.
A: Having received absolution I should thank the Lord, perform my penance as soon as possible, and put in practice the advice of the confessor.
A: Confessors should give absolution to those only whom they judge properly disposed to receive it.
A: Confessors not only may, but must defer or refuse absolution in certain cases so as not to profane the sacrament.
A: Penitents who are to be accounted badly disposed are chiefly the following: (1) Those who do not know the principal mysteries of their faith, or who neglect to learn those other truths of Christian Doctrine which they are bound to know According to their state; (2) Those who are gravely negligent in examining their conscience, who show no signs of sorrow or repentance; (3) Those who are able but not willing to restore the goods of others, or the reputations they have injured; (4) Those who do not from their heart forgive their enemies; (5) Those who will not practice the means necessary to correct their bad habits; (6) Those who will not abandon the proximate occasions of sin.
A: A confessor who defers absolution because he does not believe the penitent well enough disposed, is not too severe; on the contrary, he is very charitable and acts as a good physician who tries all remedies, even those that are disagreeable and painful, to save the life of his patient.
A: A sinner to whom absolution is deferred or refused, should not despair or leave off going to confession altogether; he should, on the contrary, humble himself, acknowledge his deplorable state, profit by the good advice his confessor gives him, and thus put himself as soon as possible in a state deserving of absolution.
A: A genuine penitent should earnestly recommend himself to God for help to enable him to select a pious, learned, and prudent confessor, into whose hands he should put himself, obeying him as his judge and physician.
A: Satisfaction, which is also called sacramental penance, is one of the acts of the penitent by which he makes a certain reparation to the justice of God for his sins, by performing the works the confessor imposes on him.
A: Yes, the penitent is bound to accept the penance imposed on him by the confessor if he can perform it; and if he cannot, he should humbly say so, and ask some other penance.
A: If the confessor has fixed no time, the penance should be performed as soon as convenient, and as far as possible while in the state of grace.
A: The penance should be performed entirely and devoutly.
A: A penance is imposed because, after sacramental absolution which remits sin and its eternal punishment, there generally remains a temporal punishment to be undergone, either in this world or in Purgatory.
A: Our Lord has willed to remit all the punishment due to sin in the sacrament of Baptism, and not in the sacrament of Penance, 'because the sins after Baptism are much more grievous, being committed with fuller knowledge and greater ingratitude for God's benefits, and also in order that the obligation of satisfying for them may restrain us from falling into sin again.
A: Of ourselves we cannot make satisfaction to God, but we certainly can do so by uniting ourselves to Jesus Christ, who gives value to our actions by the merits of His passion and death.
A: The penance which the confessor imposes does not ordinarily suffice to discharge the punishment remaining due to our sins; and hence we must try to supply it by other voluntary penances.
A: The works of penance may be reduced to three kinds: Prayer, Fasting, and Alms-deeds.
A: By prayer is meant every kind of pious exercise.
A: By fasting is meant every kind of mortification.
A: By almsgiving is meant every spiritual or corporal work of mercy.
A: The penance which the confessor imposes is the most meritorious, because being part of the sacrament it receives greater virtue from the merits of the passion of Jesus Christ.
A: No, they go to Purgatory there to satisfy the justice of God and be perfectly purified.
A: Yes, the souls in Purgatory can be relieved by our prayers, alms-deeds, all our other good works, and by indulgences, but above all by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A: Besides performing his penance after confession, the penitent, if he has justly injured another in his goods or reputation, or if he has given him scandal, must as soon as possible, and as far as he is able, restore him his goods, repair his honor, and remedy the scandal.
A: The scandal given can be remedied by removing the occasion of it and by edifying by word and example those whom we have scandalized.
A: We should make satisfaction to one whom we have offended, by asking his pardon, or by some other suitable reparation.
A: A good confession: (1) Remits the sins we have committed and gives us the grace of God; (2) Restores us peace and quiet of conscience; (3) Reopens the gates of Heaven and changes the eternal punishment of hell into a temporal punishment; (4) Preserves us from falling again, and renders us capable of partaking of the treasury of Indulgences.
A: An Indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due on account of our sins which have been already pardoned as far as their guilt is concerned -- a remission accorded by the Church outside the sacrament of Penance.
A: The Church has received the power to grant Indulgences from Jesus Christ.
A: The Church by means of Indulgences remits this temporal punishment by applying to us the superabundant merits of Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints, which constitute what is known as the Treasure of the Church.
A: The Pope alone has the power to grant Indulgences in the whole Church, and the Bishop in his own diocese, according to the faculty given him by the Pope.
A: Indulgences are of two kinds: plenary and partial.
A: A plenary Indulgence is that by which the whole temporal punishment due to our sins is remitted. Hence, if one were to die after having gained such an Indulgence, he would go straight to Heaven, being, as he is, perfectly exempt from the pains of Purgatory.
A: A partial Indulgence is that by which is remitted only a part of the temporal punishment due to our sins.
A: In granting Indulgences the Church intends to aid our incapacity to expiate all the temporal punishment in this world, by enabling us to obtain by means of works of piety and Christian charity that which in the first ages Christians gained by the rigor of Canonical penances.
A: By an Indulgence of forty or a hundred days, or of seven years and the like, is meant the remission of so much of the temporal punishment as would have been paid by penances of forty or a hundred days, or seven years, anciently prescribed in the Church.
A: We should set the greatest value on Indulgences because by them we satisfy the justice of God and obtain possession of Heaven sooner and more easily.
A: The conditions necessary to gain Indulgences are: (1) The state of grace (at least at the final completion of the work), and freedom from those venial faults, the punishment of which we wish to cancel; (2) The fulfillment of all the works the Church enjoins in order to gain the Indulgence; (3) The intention to gain it.
A: Yes, Indulgences can be applied also to the souls in Purgatory, when he who grants them says that they may be so applied.
A: A Jubilee, which as a rule is granted every twenty-five years, is a Plenary Indulgence to which are attached many privileges and special concessions, such as that of being able to obtain absolution from certain reserved sins and from censures, and the commutation of certain vows.