Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confession. Show all posts
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Does God Hear Your Prayers If You Are In Mortal Sin?
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Yes. We distinguish between sanctifying (habitual) grace and actual graces. Now the name ‘actual’ grace might make it sound like we’re implying other graces are not ‘real’ graces, but they are named ‘actual’ because they refer to particular and passing actions, whereas sanctifying grace refers to the state of being, the habit of holiness that persists after baptism as long as we do not sin mortally. It’s the difference between doing things, performing certain actions, and being human or, with sanctifying grace, being a child of God.

Mortal sin takes us out of the state of grace. We lose sanctifying grace and the theological virtue of divine charity, but God could still speak to us because those would be actual graces, passing actions that God can grant even to someone who is not in the state of grace. And He might grant them precisely to spur us to repentance, to Confession, and a return to sanctifying grace.

Source: Fr. Schmidt's Blog
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Thursday, May 14, 2020
God Himself Established The Sacrament of Confession
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I have written before on the necessity of Sacramental Confession to receive forgiveness for sins (exceptions aside). Today I came across the following reflection of the great liturgist Dom Gueranger who writes an insightful commentary on Confession while commenting on some of the heresies that have sought to attack it as well as how ultimately God has a right to establish the means to achieve His forgiveness. And He did so by instituting the Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church.

If you or your family have been away from the Sacraments, it is time to return to them. God wills it.

Dom Gueranger writes:
In return for the humble confession of our sins and the sincere sorrow for having committed them, we receive pardon, and this not once or twice only, but as often as we approach the sacred tribunal; not for this or that kind of sin only, but for every sin whatsoever. It is not to be wondered at that Satan should envy man this gift, and strive to throw such doubts and difficulties in the way as to prevent his profiting by it.  
What has not heresy said against this sacrament? It began by teaching that it takes from the glory of holy baptism; whereas on the contrary, it honours that first sacrament, by repairing the injuries done to it by sin. Later on, it exacted, as absolutely necessary for the sacraments, such perfect dispositions, that absolution would find the soul already reconciled with God. It was by this dangerous snare of Jansenism that so many were ruined, either by pride or by discouragement. And lastly, it has set up that Protestant dictum:’I confess my sins to God just as though God had not the right to lay down the conditions for pardon. 
The sacraments being, as they are, such divine institutions, demand our faith; without faith they are simply impossibilities. Though this be true of all the seven, yet the sacrament of penance is especially welcome to a man of faith, because it so thoroughly humbles human pride. It sends man to ask of his fellow-man what God could have given directly himself. Jesus said to the lepers, whom he wished to cure: Go, show yourselves to the priests! Surely he has a right to act in the same manner when there is a question of spiritual leprosy.
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Monday, March 23, 2020
How Can I Be Forgiven From Venial Sins Without Confession?
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The Forgiveness of Mortal Sins: The Sacrament of Confession

The Sacrament of Confession is the means that our Divine Lord has established so that we may receive forgiveness for our sins. This is the ordinary means of forgiveness. Ordinarily, this means that only in Confession can a soul in the state of mortal sin be restored to a life of grace and friendship with God as a result of the way that God has ordered the world to work.

What can those do who may not access the Sacrament of Reconciliation? If someone is in a faraway distant land or on a battlefield and dying, what do they do? What even should we do if we become ill with a virus and feel life slipping away and fear that no priest will be able to hear our Confession?

In such situations, we are reminded that God has bound salvation to the Sacraments, but He Himself is not bound by His Sacraments. St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote to his followers shortly before WWII:
"Whoever can, should receive the Sacrament of Penance.  Whoever cannot, because of prohibiting circumstances, should cleanse his soul by acts of perfect contrition: i.e., the sorrow of a loving child who does not consider so much the pain or reward as he does the pardon from his father and mother to whom he has brought displeasure."
The Forgiveness of Mortal Sins: An Act of Perfect Contrition

Thus, there is one additional means to receive forgiveness: An Act of Perfect Contrition. This too is the only way that protestants with valid Baptism, but without valid Confession, can be saved. We know that there is no salvation outside of the Church but for those souls who die seemingly separated from the Church, we must pray that they can make a perfect Act of Contrition, repent of their sins, long for union with God and His Church, and thus cheat the devil and merit a crown of glory.

There are two kinds of contrition (i.e. sorrow) that we can have for our sins. The most common is imperfect contrition which is sorrow out of a fear of losing Heaven or suffering in Hell. The other is perfect contrition which is sorrow entirely out of a love of God and regret for offending Him.

The Catholic Encyclopedia on Contrition states: "Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione)."

While those who are dying without Confession and with mortal sin on their souls will need to make such a perfect Act of Contrition in order to avoid hell, we too can seek to make perfect acts of contrition whenever we sin, even if we plan to soon seek out the Sacrament of Confession and receive absolution.

The formula for an Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
The perfect act of contrition though is not just a mere fact of saying this formula. It truly requires the proper disposition of being detached from all sins - even venial sins. It is not an easy thing to do, especially those who sin often throughout their lives.

If you are in good health now, make a resolution to say 3 Hail Mary's every day to ask for the grace to die in the state of grace with Last Rites.


 The Forgiveness of Venial Sins:

What has been mentioned so far is the forgiveness of mortal sins, those that would deprive a soul of Heaven. The Sacrament of Confession and Perfect Acts of Contrition would both remove mortal sins and venial sins. Is there however a way to remit venial sin by itself? There actually is.

However, an important clarification: assuming a person has both moral sin and venial sin on his soul, it is not possible to remove only the venial sins this way and leave the mortal sins for the Confessional. Why? St. Thomas Aquinas explains:
"As stated above (III:87:3), there is no remission of any sin whatever except by the power of grace, because, as the Apostle declares (Romans 4:8), it is owing to God's grace that He does not impute sin to a man, which a gloss on that passage expounds as referring to venial sin. Now he that is in a state of mortal sin is without the grace of God. Therefore no venial sin is forgiven him" (Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 87: The remission of venial sin, Article 4)
For those however who only have venial sins on their souls, the Angelic Doctor continues by explaining what are the means for remitting the venial sins:
"No infusion of fresh grace is required for the forgiveness of a venial sin, but it is enough to have an act proceeding from grace, in detestation of that venial sin, either explicit or at least implicit, as when one is moved fervently to God. Hence, for three reasons, certain things cause the remission of venial sins: first, because they imply the infusion of grace, since the infusion of grace removes venial sins, as stated above (Article 2); and so, by the Eucharist, Extreme Unction, and by all the sacraments of the New Law without exception, wherein grace is conferred, venial sins are remitted. 
"Secondly, because they imply a movement of detestation for sin, and in this way the general confession [i.e. the recital of the Confiteor or of an act of contrition, the beating of one's breast, and the Lord's Prayer conduce to the remission of venial sins, for we ask in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses."
"Thirdly, because they include a movement of reverence for God and Divine things; and in this way a bishop's blessing, the sprinkling of holy water, any sacramental anointing, a prayer said in a dedicated church, and anything else of the kind, conduce to the remission of venial sins" (Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 87: The remission of venial sin, Article 3)
Thus, we learn that the Sacraments, such as receiving Holy Communion, remit venial sin, although we of course may never receive Holy Communion without prior Sacramental Confession for mortal sin. We also learn that the Confiteor, the Our Father, and blessing ourselves with Holy Water all remit venial sin.

So if you find yourself away from the Sacrament of Confession, do not lose heart. Make use of the prayers and Sacramentals at your disposal.
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Friday, March 13, 2020
Confession by Phone? Internet? Facetime?
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I've heard a question asked recently whether or not Confession by telephone or the Internet is permitted. The answer is of course no. As we see in the Gospels, it is about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that matters. In Confession, we not only confess our sins but we humble ourselves by kneeling down and begging for mercy. The Prodigal Son did not call from across the field: "Forgive me." Rather, the Gospel says, the Son "...rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

In Confession, Jesus Christ runs back to us and pours grace into our souls. It is about this personal encounter that matters.

The Catholic Church has also condemned Confession through the Internet. Regardless of the rationale, no Sacraments can be received online.

The Pontifical Council on Social Communications on the Church and the Internet published a document in 2002 that says, “virtual reality cannot substitute for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, nor the sacramental reality of the other sacraments, nor the worship shared in a human community of flesh and bones....Sacraments on the Internet do not exist....Even religious experiences that are possible there through the grace of God are insufficient if they are separated from interaction in the real world with other persons of faith.”
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Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Can A Priest Hear My Confession at an Airport or on a Cruise Ship?
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For most Catholics, our encounters with the Sacrament of Penance are in a confessional.  But can you ask a priest who is passing through an airport or walking down the street to hear your confession?

Question: May I ask a priest in a public place like an airport to hear my confession?

The Sacrament of Confession is ordained by God as the means by which mortal sins performed after Baptism are forgiven.  A Catholic may not "pray to God himself" as some falsely allege - our Lord Jesus Christ in His order for the world instituted the Sacrament and gave the power to forgive sins to priests to exercise in His name (cf. John 20:21-23).  He never told a single soul to pray directly to Him for forgiveness; rather, He respected the order He instituted - it was our Lord Himself who after curing the lepers told them, "Go, show yourselves to the priest" (Luke 17:14).

The Sacrament of Confession requires proper form and matter.  The matter for the validity of the Sacrament is threefold: 1) a contrite heart of a sinner who intends to amend his life, 2) confession of all mortal sins in number and kind since one's last valid Sacramental Confession, and 3) the intent to carry out the penance prescribed (cf. Canon 4 of Fourteenth Session of the Council of Trent).

The form is the exactly worded formula of absolution: "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit."

Furthermore, the Sacrament of Confession requires a validly ordained Catholic priest who possesses the faculties to forgive sins in the name of Christ Himself. For this matter, it is helpful to turn to the Code of Canon law which will also provide us an answer to our original question.
Can.  965 A priest alone is the minister of the sacrament of penance. 
Can.  966 §1. The valid absolution of sins requires that the minister have, in addition to the power of orders, the faculty of exercising it for the faithful to whom he imparts absolution. 
§2. A priest can be given this faculty either by the law itself or by a grant made by the competent authority according to the norm of ⇒ can. 969. 
Can.  967 §1. In addition to the Roman Pontiff, cardinals have the faculty of hearing the confessions of the Christian faithful everywhere in the world by the law itself. Bishops likewise have this faculty and use it licitly everywhere unless the diocesan bishop has denied it in a particular case. 
§2. Those who possess the faculty of hearing confessions habitually whether by virtue of office or by virtue of the grant of an ordinary of the place of incardination or of the place in which they have a domicile can exercise that faculty everywhere unless the local ordinary has denied it in a particular case, without prejudice to the prescripts of ⇒ can. 974, §§2 and 3. 
§3. Those who are provided with the faculty of hearing confessions by reason of office or grant of a competent superior according to the norm of cann. ⇒ 968, §2 and ⇒ 969, §2 possess the same faculty everywhere by the law itself as regards members and others living day and night in the house of the institute or society; they also use the faculty licitly unless some major superior has denied it in a particular case as regards his own subjects.
And thus, we come to our answer which is addressed in Canon 967.2. A priest who possesses the faculty to hear confessions habitually, by virtue of his office or by grant of his ordinary can validly hear confessions anywhere unless expressly denied by the ordinary of the place. This is not done, at least I have never heard of it being done. So yes, a priest with faculties to hear confessions can hear them anywhere - at the airport while he is passing through, while on vacation, while on a cruise ship, etc.

Do not delay and allow thoughts of "does the priest have permission to hear my confession" enter into your mind.  If you need to avail yourself of this Sacrament, do not delay!
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Thursday, March 16, 2006
The Necessity of Confession
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Through the life-giving, seven Sacraments, the Church continues to bring the love of Jesus Christ to all mankind. The priests of the Holy Catholic Church have the unique ability to forgive sins because Our Lord Jesus Christ gave them the ability. In the three years that the disciples journeyed with Jesus in His public life, He taught them the Truth and the Faith. Our Lord gave His disciples "power and authority" (Luke 9:1), and later, He gave them the unique power to forgive sins (John 20:21-23).
"[Jesus] said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 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." (John 20:21-23)
In those words, Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Confession (Sacrament of Penance). These words of Our Lord were not a symbolic act but one of true and lasting importance. Truly, by these words, the Sacrament of Penance was instituted (Lamentabili Sane 47; Council of Trent, Session Fourteen, Canons 1-15).

In the Holy Scriptures, the only other reference to God breathing upon someone is recorded in Genesis 2:7, when God breathed upon Adam and gave him life. In John 20:21-23 we understand that God is truly giving the eleven apostles this profound ability to forgive sins just as He truly gave Adam the unique gift of life.

Some people ask, "Just because God gave the apostles the power doesn't mean that this is the only way to have our sins forgiven." While on this Earth, Jesus would go through the streets of Jerusalem and heal and forgive those that desired forgiveness. But today Jesus is not walking in the streets. After Our Lord's Resurrection, He gave the apostles the duty to go forth and forgive sins; He never told anyone to pray to Him for forgiveness. Rather, He told the disciples to forgive the sins of penitents. Today our priests and bishops, successors of the apostles, continue to forgive our sins by the power of God.

At the Fourteenth Session of the Council of Trent in 1551 AD, the Holy Church declared the following:

Canons Concerning The Most Holy Sacrament Of Penance

Canon 1. If anyone says that in the Catholic Church penance is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord for reconciling the faithful of God as often as they fall into sin after baptism, let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone, confounding the sacraments, says that baptism is itself the sacrament of penance, as though these two sacraments were not distinct, and that penance therefore is not rightly called a second plank after shipwreck, let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone says that those words of the Lord Savior, are not to be understood of the power of forgiving and retaining sins in the sacrament of penance, as the Catholic Church has always understood them from the beginning, but distorts them, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, as applying to the authority of preaching the Gospel, let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone denies that for the full and perfect remission of sins three acts are required on the part of the penitent, constituting as it were the matter of the sacrament of penance, namely, contrition, confession and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance; or says that there are only two parts of penance, namely, the terrors of a smitten conscience convinced of sin and the faith received from the Gospel or from absolution, by which one believes that his sins are forgiven him through Christ, let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone says that the contrition which is evoked by examination, recollection and hatred of sins, whereby one recounts his years in the bitterness of his soul, by reflecting on the grievousness, the multitude, the baseness of his sins, the loss of eternal happiness and the incurring of eternal damnation, with a purpose of amendment, is not a true and beneficial sorrow, does not prepare for grace, but makes a man a hypocrite and a greater sinner; finally, that this sorrow is forced and not free and voluntary, let him be anathema.

Canon 6. If anyone denies that sacramental confession was instituted by divine law or is necessary to salvation; or says that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is at variance with the institution and command of Christ and is a human contrivance, let him be anathema.

Canon 7. If anyone says that in the sacrament of penance it is not required by divine law for the remission of sins to confess each and all mortal sins which are recalled after a due and diligent examination, also secret ones and those that are a violation of the two last commandments of the Decalogue, as also the circumstances that change the nature of a sin, but that this confession is useful only to instruct and console the penitent and in olden times was observed only to impose a canonical satisfaction; or says that they who strive to confess all sins wish to leave nothing to the divine mercy to pardon; or finally, that it is not lawful to confess venial sins, let him be anathema.

Canon 8. If anyone says that the confession of all sins as it is observed in the Church is impossible and is a human tradition to be abolished by pious people; or that each and all of the faithful of Christ of either sex are not bound thereto once a year in accordance with the constitution of the great Lateran Council and that for this reason the faithful of Christ are to be persuaded not to confess during Lent, let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone says that the sacramental absolution of the priest is not a judicial act but a mere service of pronouncing and declaring to him who confesses that the sins are forgiven, provided only he believes himself to be absolved, even though the priest absolves not in earnest but only in jest; or says that the confession of the penitent is not necessary in order that the priest may be able to absolve him, let him be anathema.

Canon 10. If anyone says that priests who are in mortal sin have not the power of binding and loosing, or that not only priests are the ministers of absolution but that to each and all of the faithful of Christ was it said: by virtue of which words everyone can absolve from sins, from public sins by reproof only, provided the one reproved accept correction, and from secret sins by voluntary confession, let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone says that bishops have not the right to reserve cases to themselves except such as pertain to external administration, and that therefore the reservation of cases does not hinder a priest from absolving from reserved cases, let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone says that God always pardons the whole penalty together with the guilt and that the satisfaction of penitents is nothing else than the faith by which they perceive that Christ has satisfied for them, let him be anathema.

Canon 13. If anyone says that satisfaction for sins, as to their temporal punishment, is in no way made to God through the merits of Christ by the punishments inflicted by Him and patiently borne, or by those imposed by the priest, or even those voluntarily undertaken, as by fasts, prayers, almsgiving or other works of piety, and that therefore the best penance is merely a new life, let him be anathema.

Canon 14. If anyone says that the satisfactions by which penitents atone for their sins through Christ are not a worship of God but traditions of men, which obscure the doctrine of grace and the true worship of God and the beneficence itself of the death of Christ, let him be anathema.

Canon 15. If anyone says that the keys have been given to the Church only to loose and not also to bind, and that therefore priests, when imposing penalties on those who confess, act contrary to the purpose of the keys and to the institution of Christ, and that it is a fiction that there remains often a temporal punishment to be discharged after the eternal punishment has by virtue of the keys been removed, let him be anathema.



Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 776. What is Confession?


A. Confession is the telling of our sins to a duly authorized priest, for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.

Q. 777. Who is a duly authorized priest?

A. A duly authorized priest is one sent to hear confessions by the lawful bishop of the diocese in which we are at the time of our confession.

Q. 778. Is it ever allowed to write our sins and read them to the priest in the confessional or give them to him to read?

A. It is allowed, when necessary, to write our sins and read them to the priest, as persons do who have almost entirely lost their memory. It is also allowed to give the paper to the priest, as persons do who have lost the use of their speech. In such cases the paper must, after the confession, be carefully destroyed either by the priest or the penitent.

Q. 779. What is to be done when persons must make their confession and cannot find a priest who understands their language?

A. Persons who must make their confession and who cannot find a priest who understands their language, must confess as best they can by some signs, showing what sins they wish to confess and how they are sorry for them.

Q. 780. What sins are we bound to confess?

A. We are bound to confess all our mortal sins, but it is well also to confess our venial sins.

Q. 783. Should a person stay from confession because he thinks he has no sin to confess ?

A. A person should not stay from confession because he thinks he has no sin to confess, for the Sacrament of Penance, besides forgiving sin, gives an increase of sanctifying grace, and of this we have always need, especially to resist temptation. The Saints, who were almost without imperfection, went to confession frequently.

Q. 785. Which are the chief qualities of a good Confession?

A. The chief qualities of a good Confession are three: it must be humble, sincere, and entire.

Q. 786. When is our Confession humble?

A. Our Confession is humble when we accuse ourselves of our sins, with a deep sense of shame and sorrow for having offended God.

Q. 787. When is our Confession sincere?

A. Our Confession is sincere when we tell our sins honestly and truthfully, neither exaggerating nor excusing them.

Q. 788. Why is it wrong to accuse ourselves of sins we have not committed?

A. It is wrong to accuse ourselves of sins we have not committed, because, by our so doing, the priest cannot know the true state of our souls, as he must do before giving us absolution.

Q. 789. When is our Confession entire?

A. Our Confession is entire when we tell the number and kinds of our sins and the circumstances which change their nature.

Q. 790. What do you mean by the "kinds of sin?"

A. By the "kinds of sin," we mean the particular division or class to which the sins belong; that is, whether they be sins of blasphemy, disobedience, anger, impurity, dishonesty, etc. We can determine the kind of sin by discovering the commandment or precept of the Church we have broken or the virtue against which we have acted.

Q. 791. What do we mean by "circumstances which change the nature of sins?"

A. By "circumstances which change the nature of sins" we mean anything that makes it another kind of sin. Thus to steal is a sin, but to steal from the Church makes our theft sacrilegious. Again, impure actions are sins, but a person must say whether they were committed alone or with others, with relatives or strangers, with persons married or single, etc., because these circumstances change them from one kind of impurity to another.

Q. 792. What should we do if we cannot remember the number of our sins?

A. If we cannot remember the number of our sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, and say how often we may have sinned in a day, a week, or a month, and how long the habit or practice has lasted.

Q. 793. Is our Confession worthy if, without our fault, we forget to confess a mortal sin?

A. If without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, our Confession is worthy, and the sin is forgiven; but it must be told in Confession if it again comes to our mind.

Q. 795. Is it a grievous offense willfully to conceal a mortal sin in Confession?

A. It is a grievous offense willfully to conceal a mortal sin in Confession, because we thereby tell a lie to the Holy Ghost, and make our Confession worthless.

Q. 796. How is concealing a sin telling a lie to the Holy Ghost?

A. Concealing a sin is telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, because he who conceals the sin declares in confession to God and the priest that he committed no sins but what he has confessed, while the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, saw him committing the sin he now conceals and still sees it in his soul while he denies it.

Q. 797. Why is it foolish to conceal sins in confession?

A. It is foolish to conceal sins in confession:

1. Because we thereby make our spiritual condition worse;
2. We must tell the sin sometime if we ever hope to be saved;
3. It will be made known on the day of judgment, before the world, whether we conceal it now or confess it.

Q. 798. What must he do who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in Confession?

A. He who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in Confession must not only confess it, but must also repeat all the sins he has committed since his last worthy Confession.

Q. 799. Must one who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession do more than repeat the sins committed since his last worthy confession?

A. One who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession must, besides repeating all the sins he has committed since his last worthy confession, tell also how often he has unworthily received absolution and Holy Communion during the same time.

Q. 800. Why does the priest give us a penance after Confession?

A. The priest gives us a penance after Confession, that we may satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to our sins.

Q. 801. Why should we have to satisfy for our sins if Christ has fully satisfied for them?

A. Christ has fully satisfied for our sins and after our baptism we were free from all guilt and had no satisfaction to make. But when we willfully sinned after baptism, it is but just that we should be obliged to make some satisfaction.

Q. 802. Is the slight penance the priest gives us sufficient to satisfy for all the sins confessed?

A. The slight penance the priest gives us is not sufficient to satisfy for all the sins confessed:

1. Because there is no real equality between the slight penance given and the punishment deserved for sin;
2. Because we are all obliged to do penance for sins committed, and this would not be necessary if the penance given in confession satisfied for all. The penance is given and accepted in confession chiefly to show our willingness to do penance and make amends for our sins.

Q. 803. Does not the Sacrament of Penance remit all punishment due to sin?

A. The Sacrament of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for our sins.

Q. 804. Why does God require a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin?

A. God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin to teach us the great evil of sin and to prevent us from falling again.

Q. 805. Which are the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin?

A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving; all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.

Commentary on the Baltimore Catechism:

The Catechism teaches that for a Confession to be authentic and our sins to be forgiven, we must confess all mortal sins. If we willingly do not confess a mortal sin, our sins are not forgiven. For a sin to be mortal, it must fulfill three categories:
  • It must be serious matter (against one of the Commandments)
  • The individual must know it's wrong when he/she does it
  • The individual must have full control of will (ex. he/she is not dreaming or forced to do it)
Confession is essential for reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Our Savior, is the most supreme gift. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. If we are in a state of mortal sin we are forbidden to receive the Eucharist before Confession. As St. Paul writes: "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27).

Some claim that when the veil in the temple veil was torn in half, priests were no longer needed: "And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the Ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom" (Mark 15:37-38).

This logic, though, is incorrect. Jesus did not remove the priesthood but founded a new one. The veil was torn to signify the New Covenant replacing the Old Covenant with the Israelites. The Old Testament priesthood prefigured the new Testament's priesthood. The veil was placed in the temple to separate the Holy of Holies (i.e. The Ark of the Covenant) from the people of Israel. The people of God could not touch the Holy Ark because by doing so they died. But, when Christ died we were redeemed - man could now approach God and hope to receive the new Holy of Holies, Our Lord. In Matthew Chapter Nine, Jesus forgives a man's sins and St. Matthew in the Gospel writes:
"When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings." The point remains that God has given this authority to forgive sins to the apostles who in turn passed it to their successors through the imposition of hands. This process called the imposition or laying on of hands has ensured that today's priests and bishops can forgive sins.
Some people may further object to the Sacrament of Confession by citing 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity." But this passage again does not disprove Confession. This passage is referring to the Confession of sins and not the manner in which it is achieved. It can only be inferred that St. John would refer to the confession of sins to the apostles, of which he wrote in the Gospel of John 20:21-23.

Confession by Phone? Internet?

I've heard a question asked recently whether or not Confession by telephone or the Internet is permitted. The answer is of course no. As we see in the Gospels, it is about a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that matters. In Confession, we not only confess our sins but we humble ourselves by kneeling down and begging for mercy. The Prodigal Son did not call from across the field: "Forgive me." Rather, the Gospel says, the Son "...rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

In Confession, Jesus Christ runs back to us and pours grace into our souls. It is about this personal encounter that matters.

The Catholic Church has also condemned Confession through the Internet:

The Pontifical Council on Social Communications on the Church and the Internet published a document in 2002 that says, “virtual reality cannot substitute for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, nor the sacramental reality of the other sacraments, nor the worship shared in a human community of flesh and bones....Sacraments on the Internet do not exist....Even religious experiences that are possible there through the grace of God are insufficient if they are separated from interaction in the real world with other persons of faith.”

Conclusion:

So, let us remember not only to understand the Sacrament well but also to receive forgiveness through it. Before Confession, read an Examination of Conscience. And, for those of you preparing to make your first Confession, read up on How to Go to Confession. I also recommend reading St. John Vianney's Catechism on Confession.
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