Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 66.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. What is the signification of the word penance ?

A. It is much the same with repentance; and, according to the Latin and Greek, is used to signify a change of the mind.

Q. What is the ecclesiastical use of the word ?

A. It is sometimes taken for a certain virtue belonging to justice, and is a sincere grief for having offended God, with a firm purpose to offered him no more. Again, it is taken for a sacrament, which is a sorrow for sins committed after baptism, including confession, and a purpose of making satisfaction. So that it is a sacrament, whereby the sins we commit after baptism are forgiven us.

Q. When was this sacrament first instituted ?

A. There was an intimation and promise of it, when our Saviour said, "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed .in heaven." St. Matt, xviii. 18. Which promise was actually performed, after our Saviour's resurrection; when " he breathed upon his Apostles, and 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." St. John, xx. 22, i3

Q. How do you prove from hence that penance is a sacrament?

A. From the notion and definition of a sacrament, viz.: An outward and visible sign of inward grace, ordained by Jesus Christ. The outward or visible sign, is the sinner's confession, and the form of absolution pronounced by the priest; the inward grace is the remission of sins, promised by Jesus Christ. See St. John xx. 22, 23. The institution of Christ is gathered from the same place, and from St, Matt, xviii. 18.

Q. What is the matter and form of this sacrament ?

A. The matter is twofold, viz.: Remote and immediate. The remote matter is sin, mortal and venial: the immediate are the acts of the penitent, viz.: Contrition, confession, and satisfaction. The form are the words of absolution.

Q. To what end is this sacrament instituted ?

A. For the remission of sins committed after baptism.

Q. Is this sacrament necessary for salvation ?

A. Yes, it is as necessary as baptism, in regard of those who fall into mortal sin after they are baptized. (St. Cypr. Ep. 57, ad Cornel. St. Chrys. L. 3, de Sacred. St. Ambr. L. 1, de Poenit. Cp. 2. St Aug. Ep. 288, ad Honorat Con. Trid. Sess. vi. C. xiv.)

Q. Are not the words importing a power of forgiving and retaining sin, sufficiently verified by the power given to the Apostles to preach the gospel ?

A. This indeed the Calvinists pretend, but falsely, there being two distinct ceremonies instituted for that purpose, viz.: Baptism, and penance, as the fathers expressly affirm, besides preaching. See St. Ambrose, in his book of Penance.

Q. What differences are observable between baptism and penance?

A. In baptism, sin is forgiven, by a true contrition, as a necessary preparation in the adult. It requires not confession : it remits the whole pain due to sin: it absolves not juridically: it gives a character, and cannot be repeated. It is absolutely necessary to infants; and to adults, at least in desire, if otherwise not obtainable. As for penance, jurisdiction is necessary: it requires certain dispositions, viz.: A sorrow and purpose to sin no more: it may be repeated: it requires confession, but it does not remit all the pain due to sin: lastly, it requires satisfaction.

Q. What is it to forgive sin?

A. It is to pronounce the words of absolution ministerially, under Christ, the principal cause. So that we do not believe that man can forgive sins by his own power, as no man, by his own power, can raise the dead to life: because both the one and the other equally belong to the power of God. But as God has sometimes made man his instrument in raising the dead to life, so we believe that he has been pleased to appoint that his ministers should, in virtue of his commission, as his instruments, and by his power, absolve repenting sinners. And this is what the Protestants pretend to believe, as well as we; for we find in their common prayer book, in the order for the visitation of the sick, where they prescribe a form of absolution, the same in substance as that used in the Catholic Church: which is as follows: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent, and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: and, by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Q. What is it to retain sins ?

A. It is to refuse or defer absolution for sin, or to inflict penalties for sin.

Q. Pray tell me in what cases is a confessor to refuse or defer absolution.

A. The rule of the Church is to defer absolution (excepting the case of necessity) to those of whose disposition the confessor has just cause to doubt; and to refuse or deny absolution to those who are certainly indisposed for it; which is the case of all such as refuse to forgive their enemies, or to restore ill-gotten goods, or to forsake the habits or immediate occasions of sin; or, in a word, to comply with any part of their duty, to which they are obliged under mortal sin. (See Rit. Rom. de Sacram. Poeni et Doert Iuu. II contr. 65. Prop. 1679. Cone. Trid. Sess. xiv, Cap. 4.)

Q. What is contrition, and why so called ?

A. It is an inward sorrow of the mind, for having offended so good a God, with a firm purpose not to offend him any more. It is so called, because the word contrition signifies a bruising, or breaking a thing into pieces, which is metaphorically applied to the heart, which is as it were bruised and broken by grief,

Q. How many sorts of contrition are there ?

A. Two; perfect and imperfect.

Q. What is perfect contrition ?

A. It is a hearty sorrow for having offended God, including a love of God above all things, as he is good in himself.

Q. What is imperfect contrition ?

A. It is a sorrow for having offended God, upon account of the pains of hell, the turpitude of sin, or some other imperfect, but supernatural motive.

Q. By what name do you call imperfect contrition, and how does it differ from perfect contrition ?

A. It is called attrition. Now, as to the difference, they differ in their motive. The motive of perfect contrition is God, as lie is good in himself. The motive of attrition is fear of punishment, etc. Yet here also the motive must be supernatural, and the sorrow must proceed from actual grace. Again, they differ in their effects. The first is capable to justify a person without the sacrament of penance, who has a desire, but not the opportunity of a confessor. The second only disposes a person for justification in the sacrament.