Today is our second Catechism for CityofGod.Blog. The first The real presence in the Eucharist became a very relevant topic this week. Due to the Church wanting to make a response to the PEW report suggesting the poor catechesis of the respondents. This week, City has chosen a fundamental review of the the mystery of Penance. ( References to (ccc# 1446 are references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Confession of sins, often hated, under used, and definitely misunderstood if not by Catholics themselves, but the rest of so-called Christianity. I came to this topic thanks to Arch-Bishop Fulton J Sheen. In an Anthology of his writings “The Cries of JESUS from the CROSS.”
God is more eager to save us than we are to save ourselves.,writes Fulton Sheen. He then relates a conversation St Jerome has with Jesus…….Finally Jerome ask, “What shall I give you, My life of penance, and mortifications?” But the answer was, “Even that was NOT enough!” Jerome cries,
“What do I have left to give Thee?” Our Blessed Lord Jesus answered, “ Jerome, you can give me your sins.”
One of the last seven words and Acts, Jesus provided an example for us, while hanging on the cross was, “ Today you shall be with Me in paradise.” There are plenty of apologetic controversies, but we can all settle on this truth. In those words, as both thieves faced their mortality, one thief becomes repentant. Through grace Dismus recognizes the INRI, above Jesus head and becomes aware of Jesus Kingship. Heck the Roman world was being told, to the dismay of the Jews high priests, that this Iesus of Nazereth was Rex (king) of Iudea. (Judea). The Roman governor wrote it after all and he should know, he is aware of history! But that is not all, Dismus cries out to be with our Lord when he comes into His Kingdom. (Faith). Bishop Sheen notes that in this exchange he comes to understand the meaning of “ I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” ( (Mt9:10, 13; Mk2:15, 17; Lk5:32; 1Tim1:15) ) So yes Jesus came for many reasons, but principle to these is redemption. Not a free pass as some think. Know He set up a Mystery of Penance, that requires a man to bare your soul, become spiritually naked before another man, just as Dismus was. He recognized his feeble end, and begs to be forgiven, for his acknowledged deeds. Dismus even tells us, he received a “just” punishment. (Wis9:12) What does the Priest do? Say you are right, you deserve to die so wallow in your mud, of our crimes (sins) against Him? No. he offers forgiveness and an eternal reward for his repentance and sacrifice in his roll with Jesus plan for salvation. Yes, Jesus, our high priest nailed to His Cross witnesses (Wis8:20) to his Apostles, just made priests only the night before, that even such a man as this we (the Church) are called to provide for their forgiveness for a repentant sinner, even after living a miserable dishonorable life. Dismus was fortunate, not everyone has this opportunity to die hanging next to a priest. As this crucifixion illustrates one man refused mercy, and chooses to die alone and there be his end. So the sinner must be sorrowful, repentant, honest, and humble, as Dismus was naked before The Christ. Can you look at the crucifixion again, knowing He died so He could forgive us our sins, and you still refuse his mercy like the other thief? Or will you come down off that cross and beg for mercy, at the feet of Jesus, our king and priest. Yes, you must tell one of Jesus’ Son of Aaron,(Heb5:1, 3) (a priest). Oh you can’t? Oh you refuse to be humble, is that how you show sorrow and regret? You prefer what, mention your sin in passing as you ask for more material wealth here on earth? That you think is the message of this last word? That is why Jesus came down from heaven. NO! You must confess your guilt as Dismus did. He showed us the way.
Some of you think, I am a good person, I don’t need confession. But what does a righteous man like Bishop Sheen think instead? “I see in the pardon of Dismus, the thief or Mary Magdelene, the adulteress, without any remaining accusers; I see, that if I had never sinned, I never could call YOU SAVIOR, the thief is not the only sinner, Her I am! But thou art the Only Savior.” So yes Jesus Loved us so much, he gave you the perfect example, of a repentant sinner, just punishment, about to die (in your sins), but acknowledged this High Priest, and King, and begged forgiveness. So should you. Follow the example. Confess your sins to the priest, who represents Jesus giving up His Life for his friends.(You). The priest has he not given up his life to bring you forgiveness, as Jesus commanded from His church? When Satan stands and accuses you, who is your witness? The Judge, can he be your witness?
The Church Constantly teaches:
THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
ccc# 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.”4 (LG 11,#2)
ccc#1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin. (Mk1:15; Lk15:18)
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction
ccc# 1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”6 (PO 46: formula of absolution). It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God.”7 (2Cor5:20) He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”8 (Mt5:24)
Augustine said, “Confession breaks the binding of Sin.” Every time we receive Absolution from the Church/Creator, something greater than the Creation of the world takes place. …. in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1Tim3:15 )….
ccc#1431 Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).24 (Council of Trent (1551):DS1676-78; 1705;)
The sacrament of forgiveness:
ccc#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 sacrament 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.“47 (Tertullian, De Paenit: 4,2: Pl1, 1343; Council of Trent (1547); DS 1542).
When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (Jn20:22-23)
ccc# 1447 Over the centuries the concrete form in which the Church has exercised this power received from the Lord has varied considerably. During the first centuries the reconciliation of Christians who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery) was tied to a very rigorous discipline, according to which penitents had to do public penance for their sins, often for years, before receiving reconciliation. To this “order of penitents” (which concerned only certain grave sins), one was only rarely admitted and in certain regions only once in a lifetime. During the seventh century Irish missionaries, inspired by the Eastern monastic tradition, took to continental Europe the “private” practice of penance, which does not require public and prolonged completion of penitential works before reconciliation with the Church. From that time on, the sacrament has been performed in secret between penitent and priest. This new practice envisioned the possibility of repetition and so opened the way to a regular frequenting of this sacrament. It allowed the forgiveness of grave sins and venial sins to be integrated into one sacramental celebration. In its main lines this is the form of penance that the Church has practiced down to our day.
The confession of sins
ccc#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.”54 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.”55 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); St Jerome (Doctor), In Eccl:10:11)
ccc#1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:60
If ANYONE say to you, “that faith alone (sola fide) is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament (mystery) of the Most Holy Eucharist: Let him be Anathema. and so great a Mystery may not be unworthily received, and therefore unto death and condemnation, this holy council ordains and declares that sacramental confession must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened by Mortal Sin, however contrite they may consider themselves.
If anyone moreover teaches contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume to defend the contrary, by that fact ITSELF he is EXCOMMUNICATED.(Council of Trent (1551): DS 1661)
Whoever confesses his sins …. is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear “man” – this is what God has made; when you hear “sinner” – this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…… When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.61 St. Augustine, In Jo.ev. 12:13: PL. 35,1491.
THE MINISTER OF THIS SACRAMENT *****
ccc# 1461 Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation,65 bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Jn20:23; 2Cor5:18)
“Whose sins”: See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ’s church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession. (Jn20:23) / “But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2Cor5:18)This is the TRUTH!
ccc#1462 Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconciliation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline.66 (LG 26 #3). Priests, his collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the Pope, according to the law of the Church.67 (CIC, can 1331; 1354-57; CCEO, can 722.)
ccc#1463 Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication.69 (CIC can 976; CCEO, can 725).
ccc# 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.70 (CIC, can. 1456).
ccc# 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.
ccc#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.71 (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.
ccc#1467 Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives.72 This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament. (CIC, can.1388 #1; CCEO, can 1456).
ccc#1470 In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.79 In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.”80
79 – But now I have written to you, not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, not so much as to eat. (1Cor5:11). Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,
Envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. (Gal5:19-21).
Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that love and make a lie. (Rev22:15)80 – Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who hear my word, and believe him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and come not into judgment, but is passed from death to life. (Jn5:24)
Daily Indulgence: Partial (10yrs), A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they devoutly perform this devotion on each Friday for a month. (S.P. Ap., Jan.30,1933). RACCOLTA pg 130.
#130. “We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee; Because by Thy holy Cross Thou has redeemed the world.”