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Sunday, February 25, 2007
The Council of Trent: Part 2

Continuing my series on "The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent", I would like to start by linking to my previous article on the Fifth Session.

The Sixth Session is the Decree Concerning Justification. Chapter I through XVI (Pages 29-42 in my book) are a wonderful presentation of the Catholic theology in a very scholarly manner. I know many Protestants, and I wish that they would read the Catholic Church's official, theological statements on justification since they are a source of great hope.

Here is a list of the Canons of the Council in the Sixth Session. We must still hold and belief what is taught through the Council of Trent. Many of these are very theological, so I would encourage reading them slowly and in pieces to comprehend all of the parts.


CANON I - If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II - If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III - If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

CANON IV - If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON V - If any one saith, that, since Adam's sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.

CANON VI - If any one saith, that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

CANON VII - If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.

CANON VIII - If any one saith, that the fear of hell,-whereby, by grieving for our sins, we flee unto the mercy of God, or refrain from sinning,-is a sin, or makes sinners worse; let him be anathema.

CANON IX - If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON X - If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

CANON XI - If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII - If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII - If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV - If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.

CANON XV - If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

CANON XVI - If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

CANON XVII - If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.

CANON XVIII - If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

CANON XIX - If any one saith, that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel; that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or, that the ten commandments nowise appertain to Christians; let him be anathema.

CANON XX - If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXI - If any one saith, that Christ Jesus was given of God to men, as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey; let him be anathema.

CANON XXII - If any one saith, that the justified, either is able to persevere, without the special help of God, in the justice received; or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIII - lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,-except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV - If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

CANON XXV - If any one saith, that, in every good work, the just sins venially at least, or-which is more intolerable still-mortally, and consequently deserves eternal punishments; and that for this cause only he is not damned, that God does not impute those works unto damnation; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVI - If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well [Page 48] doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVII - If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVIII - If any one saith, that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or, that the faith which remains, though it be not a lively faith, is not a true faith; or, that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Chris taught; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIX - If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism, is not able by the grace of God to rise again; or, that he is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church-instructed by Christ and his Apostles-has hitherto professed, observed, and taugh; let him be anathema.

CANON XXX - If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

CANON XXXI - If any one saith, that the justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal recompense; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXII - If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose [Page 49] living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

CANON XXXIII - If any one saith,that,by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.


del_button February 26, 2007 at 11:50 AM
TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Good stuff.

del_button February 27, 2007 at 4:35 AM
Anonymous said...

I found this absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for posting it. There were some points that particularly struck me:
1. The fact that we all have free will. How often do we hear arguments against free will as a justification for sin? I have personally witnessed people justifying for eg their own violence and sin on the basis of something that happened to them in the past or at the hands of other people.Yet what of others who suffer and do not sin? And doesn't our media support this fallacy with its pop psychology approach?
2. The idea that our justification rests on our own *feelings* about it. This isn't that far from 'just have more faith and you'll be healed' type territory. Yuck.
3. As someone who's worked with various charities (big and small) over the past ten years, I found all the points about good works absolutely fascinating. I have noticed a fashionable kind of scorn poured on the 'doing good words to get a reward/make yourself feel good' attitude, but the Council of Trent seems to uphold alsmgiving and good works in a much more robust way. Hurray for them!

del_button February 28, 2007 at 10:21 PM
FloridaWife said...

I had to read that VERY SLOWLY.

I have a question about Canon XXX.

I don't understand. Let's assume for a moment that I have committed a sin (whether venial or mortal) and with DEEP, DEEP sorrow I have gone to confession, cried in the confessional, and confessed this sin, and have never committed it again. (And I have asked and received forgiveness from the peson that I wronged.) And at the end of confession, the priest says that my sins are forgiven. And let's say I spend the rest of my life never having committed that sin and truly living in a state of grace, truly in communion with God and living a Saint's life, I still have a debt to pay??? When I went to Lourdes and confessed my sins, the priest told me, "your sins are forgiven. God has forgotten them. They are gone." I walked out of there filled with love and hope and a real healing and a real sense of grace. What am I supposed to do now?? I already went there with a heavy heart and my sin is gone; it is forgiven, and I am proceeding with my life trying to live it as Saintly as possible. What is this Canon talking about? I am mortified. What am I to do?

Please help, MB!!!

del_button March 1, 2007 at 5:08 AM
Moneybags said...

Canon XXX is saying that there is a purifying that takes place before Heaven for those that die with a stain of sin on their souls. That place is purgatory.

That's all it is saying. Don't worry about it. Your sins were forgiven in Confession.

del_button March 6, 2007 at 9:49 PM
FloridaWife said...

Thank you, MB, for those comforting words. I really needed to read that.

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