SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
A. It concerns the time when persons ought to confess their sins.
Q. Are all persons obliged, by the divine law, to confess their sins, and is it absolutely necessary to salvation ?
A. It is necessary for all persons who have been guilty of mortal sin after baptism: Num. v. 6. John xx. 23. James v. 16. Acts xix. 18, 19. For confession, accompanied with due requisites, is commanded by God as the ordinary means for remission of sins committed after baptism: but it is not absolutely necessary actually, but only in desire, when it cannot be made.
Q. What has the church commanded as to confession ?
A. The fourth general council of Lateran, which was held in the year 1215. Can. xxi. has ordered all to confess their sins once a year, without specifying the time (and that it be made to one's own priest), though the church in the council of Trent, Sess. xiv. C. v. et C. viii. seems to specify that the annual confession be made in Lent, in order for the better disposing of the faithful for their paschal communion. Now, the reason why the church commands all the faithful to confess at least once a year, is because she is sensible of the negligence of many in their soul's concern ; and therefore, as a tender mother, puts them in mind of their obligation in this point.
Q. Who is one's own priest ?
A. The pope, our bishop, and our own pastor or parish priest
Q. Is the confession that is made to a priest, who is not approved of by the bishop, invalid ?
A. Yes, and it is even so defined by the church, in the fourth general council of Lateran, etc. Can. xxi. et Concil. Baj. Chap. viii. et Concil. Rhem. And it is to be observed, that the confession made to any priest who is not empowered by the bishop, is not only invalid, but the penitent likewise becomes guilty of a grievous sin, by a breach or violation of this third precept of the church.
Q. At what age are we obliged to go to confession ?
A. When we come to the use of reason, which is ordinarily conceived to be at eight years of age, for then we generally come to the knowledge of good and evil, and may fall into sin.
Q. Is it certain that we are not obliged to go to confession, but once a year ?
A. The church obliges us to no more; but then it is to be observed, that the church, by this precept, does not take off the obligation, which every one may have, of confessing oftener: since all who are guilty of mortal sin are obliged to confess as often as there is any apparent danger of death, by sickness, war, sea, or any dangerous undertaking; as likewise before receiving any of the sacraments (except baptism) the benefit whereof, if duly considered, should move us often to confess our sins, and not to neglect it, as is too commonly done: for he who defers his eternal welfare from day to day, and from week to week, is both void of reason and conscience; since it depends of himself (with the grace of God) to repent and confess his sins. Besides, our Saviour himself commands us to be always prepared, because we know not the day nor the hour when death will call upon us. Luke xii. 40. Moreover, it is to be feared, as it commonly happens, that those careless Christians, who confess their sins but once or twice a year, do make a bad confession.