The Sacrament Of Penance

"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 A.D.)


"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 20:22-23

"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


What the 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 # 2.]"

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 20:17; Mt 5:28.]  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 mercy."

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 recovers grace;

- reconciliation with the Church;

- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;

- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;

- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;

- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle."


"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.)


ACT OF CONTRITION

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.


CHURCH BELIEFS & ISSUES

Abortion

Baptism

The Bible

 

Celibacy of the Clergy

The Church

Church Attendance

Contraception

Degrees of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Fasting During Lent

Good Works

Homosexuality

Money for the Church

"Once Saved, Always Saved?"

The Papacy

Papal Infallibility

Pre-marital Sex

Purgatory

Quick & Easy Catholic Apologetics

The Reformation

Ritual Prayer

The Sacrament of Penance

The Saints

The Trinity

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED

BIOGRAPHIES OF THE CHURCH FATHERS QUOTED IN THIS SECTION

Abortion

Against Heresy

Apostolic Succession & Tradition

The Catholic Church

Contraception

Degrees Of Sin

Divorce

The Eucharist

Good Works

Homosexuality

Infant Baptism

The Mass

The Papacy

Old Testament Canon

Purgatory

Unity Of The Church

The Virgin Mary

 

 

 


Links

Reference Materials


Biblical quotations on this web site are either from the King James Version or the Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible.

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