"What can show more pride than this, since
the Scripture says: 'No one is free from sin, not even an infant of a day old;'
and David cries out: 'Cleanse me from my sin.' Are they more holy than David,
of whose family Christ vouchsafed to be born in the mystery of the Incarnation,
whose descendant is that heavenly Hall which received the world's Redeemer in
her virgin womb? For what is more harsh than to inflict a penance which they do
not relax, and by refusing pardon to take away the incentive to penance and
repentance? Now no one can repent to good purpose unless he hopes for
mercy." - St. Ambrose ("Concerning Repentance" 4th century
"Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that
ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth
much." - James 5:16
"And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted
unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained." - John
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son,
thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there,
and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this [man] thus speak blasphemies? who
can forgive sins but God only?" - Mark 2:5-7
Catechism of the Catholic Church says on "Penance:"
986. "By Christ's will, the Church possesses
the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops
and priests normally in the Sacrament of Penance."
1422. "'Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from
God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time,
reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by
charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.' [LG 11 #
1446. "Christ instituted the Sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of
his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin,
and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is
to them that the Sacramanet of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and
to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this
sacrament as 'the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the
loss of grace.' [Tertullian, De Paenit. 4, 2: PL 1,1343; cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1542.]"
1456. "Confession to a priest is an
essential part of the Sacrament of Penance: 'All mortal sins of which penitents
after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in
confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last
two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more
grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.'
[Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); cf. Ex ; Mt .]
When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember,
they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But
those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the
divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, 'for if the
sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot
heal what it does not know.' [Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); cf. St. Jerome, In Eccl.]"
1464. "Priests must encourage the faithful
to come to the Sacrament of Penance and must make themselves available to
celebrate this sacrament each time Christians reasonably ask for it. [Cf. CIC,
can. 486; CCEO, can. 735; PO 13.]"
1465. "When he celebrates the Sacrament of Penance, the priest is
fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the
Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son
and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose
judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument
of God's merciful love for the sinner."
1466. "The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its
servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention
and charity of Christ. [Cf. PO 13.] He should have a proven knowledge of Christian
behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one
who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the
Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity.
He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's
1491. "The Sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of
the penitent and the priest's absolution. The penitent's acts are repentance,
confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make
reparation and do works of reparation."
1496. "The spiritual effects of the Sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by
- remission, at least in part, of temporal
punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual
- an increase of spiritual strength for the
"God never threatens the repentant, rather
He pardons the penitent. You will say that it is God alone who can do this.
True enough, but it is likewise true that He does it through his priests, who
exercise His power." - St. Pacianus of Barcelona (4th century A.D.)
"In this sacrament the acts of the penitent
are as matter, while the part taken by the priest, who works as Christ's
minister, is the formal and completive element of the sacrament. Now in the
other sacraments the matter pre-exists, being provided by nature, as water, or
by art, as bread: but that such and such a matter be employed for a sacrament
requires to be decided by the institution; while the sacrament derives its form
and power entirely from the institution of Christ, from Whose Passion the power
of the sacraments proceeds." - St. Thomas Aquinas ("Summa
Theologica" 13th century A.D.)
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having
offended You, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but
most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of
all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and
to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.