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Reflections: Sacraments Section (Penance/Confession)

Confession

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Penance / Confession

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Confession of Venial Sins / Frequent Confession

General Absolution

God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven

The Guilt From Unremitted Sins Committed Long Ago Still Remains

The Obligation of Confession

Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.)

Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance

Seal of Confession

A Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Is Sufficient to Condemn a Soul to Hell for All Eternity

There is No Confession After Death

Also See...

Penance / Confession (Topic Page) 

Penance (General Information) 

Penance (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Penance / Confession (Topical Scripture)

Selections From the Baltimore Catechism Tip: Select "Display by Lesson", then select lesson nos. corresponding to Penance / Confession.

Sin & Vice (Catholic Basics Section)

Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) 

Catholic Basics Section

 

Category
Quotation

Confession of Venial Sins / Frequent Confession

Also See: Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

Note: Although frequent confession is recommended, one must have sufficient sorrow for one's sins. As the Baltimore Catechism states: "One who has only venial sins to confess should tell also some sin already confessed in his past life for which he knows he is truly sorry; because it is not easy to be truly sorry for slight sins and imperfections, and yet we must be sorry for the sins confessed that our confession may be valid - hence we add some past sin for which we are truly sorry to those for which we may not be sufficiently sorry." (For more information regarding frequent confession, click here)

"[I]t is an excellent thing to go to confession often, because the sacrament of Penance, besides taking away sin, gives the graces necessary to avoid sin in the future." (Catechism of St. Pius X) 

"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." (Baltimore Catechism)

"My children, when we have a little stain on our souls, we must do like someone who has a beautiful crystal globe of which she takes great care. If the globe gets a little dusty, when she sees it, she will pass a sponge over it, and there is the globe bright and shining again." (St. John Vianney)

"How are they to be dealt with who avoid the greater sins but do not hesitate to commit the lesser ones? ... First of all, it must be understood that this distinction has no basis in the New Testament. A single declaration is made against all sins, when the Lord days, 'He that sins is the slave of sin.'" (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, c. 371 A.D.)

"While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call 'light': if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 988 §1 A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience. §2 It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"We do not, of course, believe that the soul is killed by [venial] sins; but still, they make it ugly by covering it as if with some kind of pustules and, as it were, with horrible scabs, which allow the soul to come only with difficulty to the embrace of the heavenly Spouse, of whom it is written 'He prepared for Himself a Church having neither spot nor blemish.'" (St. Caesar of Arles, c. 540 A.D.)

"Although it is possible for a man, in this mortal life, to avoid shipwreck, i.e. mortal sin, after Baptism, yet he cannot avoid venial sins, which dispose him to shipwreck, and against which also Penance is ordained; wherefore there is still room for Penance, and consequently for confession, even in those who do not commit mortal sins." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Error CONDEMNED by Pope Pius VI in "Auctorem Fidei": "The declaration of the synod about the confession of venial sins, which it does not wish, it says, to be so frequently resorted to, lest confessions of this sort be rendered too contemptible, [is condemned as] rash, dangerous, contrary to the practice of the saints and the pious which was approved by the sacred Council of Trent.'" (Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, This error was condemned by Pope Pius VI in the Constitution "Auctorem Fidei", Aug. 28, 1794 A.D.) 

"The faithful should be careful above all to cleanse their consciences from sin by frequent confession. When a person is in mortal sin nothing can be more salutary, so precarious is human life, than to have immediate recourse to confession. But even if we could promise ourselves along life, yet it would be truly disgraceful that we who are so particular in whatever relates to cleanness of dress or person, were not at least equally careful in preserving the luster of the soul unsullied from the foul stains of sin." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Can. 7. If anyone says that in the sacrament of penance it is not necessary by divine law for the remission of sins to confess each and all mortal sins, of which one has remembrance after a due and diligent examination, even secret ones and those which are against the two last precepts of the decalogue, and the circumstances which alter the nature of sin; but that this confession is useful only for the instruction and consolation of the penitent, and formerly was observed only for imposing a canonical satisfaction; or says, that they who desire to confess all their sins wish to leave nothing to be pardoned by divine mercy; or, finally, that it is not lawful to confess venial sins: let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"The same result follows from the opinions of those who assert that little importance should be given to the frequent confession of venial sins. Far more important, they say, is that general confession which the Spouse of Christ, surrounded by her children in the Lord, makes each day by the mouth of the priest as he approaches the altar of God. As you well know, Venerable Brethren, it is true that venial sins may be expiated in many ways which are to be highly commended. But to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven | Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance | The Obligation of Confession | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture) | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Fear of God / Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Sin (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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General Absolution

"Can. 961 §1 General absolution, without prior individual confession, cannot be given to a number of penitents together, unless: 1° danger of death threatens and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents; 2° there exists a grave necessity, that is, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of the sacramental grace or of holy communion for a lengthy period of time. A sufficient necessity is not, however, considered to exist when confessors cannot be available merely because of a great gathering of penitents, such as can occur on some major feastday or pilgrimage. §2 It is for the diocesan Bishop to judge whether the conditions required in §1, n. 2 are present; mindful of the criteria agreed with the other members of the Episcopal Conference, he can determine the cases of such necessity." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 962 §1 For a member of Christ's faithful to benefit validly from a sacramental absolution given to a number of people simultaneously, it is required not only that he or she be properly disposed, but be also at the same time personally resolved to confess in due time each of the grave sins which cannot for the moment be thus confessed. §2 Christ's faithful are to be instructed about the requirements set out in §1, as far as possible even on the occasion of general absolution being received. An exhortation that each person should make an act of contrition is to precede a general absolution, even in the case of danger of death if there is time." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 963 Without prejudice to the obligation mentioned in can. 989, a person whose grave sins are forgiven by a general absolution, is as soon as possible, when the opportunity occurs, to make an individual confession before receiving another general absolution, unless a just reason intervenes." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | The Obligation of Confession | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Sin (Topical Scripture) | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Categ. | Scripture: A-Z | Categ. | Help

God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven

Also See: Sin (Topic Page)

"He who conceals his sins prospers not, but he who confesses and forsakes them obtains mercy." (Prov. 28:13)

"Let us fall into the hands of the LORD and not into the hands of men, For equal to his majesty is the mercy that he shows." (Sirach 2:18)

"His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him." (The Blessed Virgin Mary, Lk. 1:50)

"So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help." (St. Paul, Heb. 4:16)

"Oh! With what tenderness does God embrace a sinner that returns to him!" (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"There is no sin so grave that it could not be forgiven."

"God is not unjust. He will not slam the door against the man who humbly knocks." (St. John Climacus)

"If they repent, all who desire it will be able to obtain mercy from God." (St. Justin the Martyr, c. 155 A.D.)

"God is able whensoever He wills to forgive us our sins, even those which we think cannot be forgiven." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"In the Church there is no denial of a place of repentance for any crime whatsoever." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 5th century A.D.)

"Where is the foolish person who would think it is in his power to commit a sin more than God could forgive?" (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"God cannot turn away his face from those who cast themselves at his feet with a humble and contrite heart." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"[God] promised His mercy to all, and granted to His priests the license of forgiving sins without any exception." (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, c. 387 A.D.)

"Great is the madness of an unbelieving people, who though they have confessed that it is of God alone to forgive sins, believe not God when He forgives sins." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"[N]o sin wounds the divine Heart as distrust; no fault is unpardonable except in the despair of a Judas, saying, like Cain: My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon." (Liturgical Year)

"God's mercy, through Penance, grants pardon to sinners without any end... Penance can be repeated many times." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"To him who still remains in this world no repentance is too late. The approach to God's mercy is open, and the access is easy to those who seek and apprehend the truth...pardon is granted to the man who confesses, saving mercy is given from the divine goodness to the believer, and a passage is opened to immortality even in death itself." (St. Cyprian, 3rd century A.D.)

"It is most evident from the preaching of the Lord that we have been commanded to restore the grace of heavenly Sacrament to those guilty even of the most grave crime, if, with their whole heart and by [a proper] confession of their sin, they do penance. It is certain, therefore, that you have no excuse for remaining in your sins." (St. Ambrose of Milan, Doctor of the Church, c. 387 A.D.)

"Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they and they refuse to believe that the keys of the kingdom of heaven...have been given to the Church." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 397 A.D.)

"God is such an inexhaustible wellspring of boundless mercy and natural goodness that never was there a devoted mother who as willingly stretched out her hand to her own child that she had carried under her heart, seeing it in a raging fire, as God does to the penitent, even if it were possible that he had the sins of all men himself and committed them a thousand times every day." (Bl. Henry Suso)

"When God gave to blessed Peter the princely power of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth, He made no exception, and withdrew nothing from his power. For he who denies that he can be bound by the sentence of the Church, must also deny that he can be absolved by its authority; and he who impudently denies this, separates himself from Christ altogether." (Pope St. Gregory VII, 12th century A.D.)

"What does ignorance of God beget us? Despair! A man who ponders all the evil he has done becomes anxious about himself. If he does not know how good and forgiving the Lord is, how willing to forgive and welcome him back, he falls into despair and becomes impenitent. He does not realize that Omnipotent Goodness could manage all his affairs, not wanting anyone to perish but that the sinner could be converted and live." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church)

"If someone, at the Devil's prompting, had committed every sin against God and then, with true contrition and the intention of amendment, truly repented these sins and humbly, with burning love, asked God for mercy, there is no doubt that the kind and merciful God Himself would immediately be as ready to receive that person back into His grace with great joy and happiness as would be a loving father who saw returning to him his only, dearly beloved son, now freed from a great scandal and a most shameful death." (St. Bridget of Sweden)

"[T]he faithful should not despair of the infinite goodness and mercy of God. For since God is most desirous of our salvation, He will not delay to pardon us. With a father's fondness, He embraces the sinner the moment he enters into himself, turns to the Lord, and, having detested all his sins, resolves that later on, as far as he is able, he will call them singly to mind and detest them. The Almighty Himself by the mouth of His Prophet, commands us to hope, when He says: The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him, in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Have you sinned? Go into church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by any indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent! For here there is a physician's office, not a courtroom; not a place where punishment of sin is exacted but where the forgiveness of sin is granted." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

"No crime, however heinous, can be committed or even conceived which the Church has not power to forgive, just as there is no sinner, however abandoned, however depraved, who should not confidently hope for pardon, provided he sincerely repent of his past transgressions. Furthermore, the exercise of this power is not restricted to particular times. Whenever the sinner turns from his evil ways he is not to be rejected, as we learn from the reply of our Savior to the Prince of the Apostles. When St. Peter asked how often we should pardon an offending brother, whether seven times, Not only seven times, said the Redeemer, but till seventy times seven." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Certainly God never threatens the repentant; rather, He pardons the penitent. You will say that it is God alone who can do this. True enough; but it is likewise true that He does it through His priests, who exercise His power. What else can it mean when He says to His Apostles: 'Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven'? Why should he say this if He were not permitting men to bind and loose?...for all of these things are commissioned not to others but to the Apostles... 'Whatever you shall loose', He says; and He excepts absolutely nothing. 'Whatever', He says: whether it be great or whether it be small." (St. Pacian of Barcelona, c. 383 A.D.)

"Let no one say, 'I did that; perhaps I will not be forgiven.' Because you did it? How great is the sin you committed? Tell me what you have done, something serious, something horrible, something terrifying even to think about? Whatever you might have done, did you kill Christ? There is nothing worse than having done that, because there is nothing better than Christ. How great a wrong is it to kill Christ? But the Jews killed Him; and afterwards many of them believed in Him and drank His Blood: and the sin which they had committed was forgiven them. When you shall have been baptized, keep you a good life in the commandments of God, so that you may preserve your Baptism to the very end." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 395 A.D.) [Note: It should be remembered that although certain Jews had Christ put to death, the sins of all people were the cause of Christ's death. One must also remember that the Church staunchly rejects persecution of the Jewish people.]

"The Lord said that to those sinning against the Holy Spirit, it should not be forgiven either here or in the future world [Matt. 12:32]. But how many do we know that sin against the Holy Spirit, such as various heretics...who return to the Catholic faith, and here have received the pardon of their blasphemy, and have enjoyed the hope of gaining indulgence in the future? And not on this account is the judgment of the Lord not true, or will it be thought to be in any way weakened, since with respect to such men, if they continue to be thus, the judgment remains never to be relaxed at all; moreover, never because of such effects is it not imposed. Just as consequently is also that of the blessed John the Apostle: There is a sin unto death: I do not say that prayer should be offered for this: and there is a sin not unto death: I do say that prayer should be offered for this [1 John 5:16, 17]. It is a sin unto death for those persisting in the same sin; it is not a sin unto death for those withdrawing from the same sin. For there is no sin for whose remission the Church does not pray, or which she cannot forgive those who desist from that same sin, or from which she cannot loose those who repent, since the power has been divinely given to her, to whom it was said: Whatsoever you shall forgive upon earth...[cf. John 20:23]; "whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven" [Matt. 18:18]. In whatsoever all are [included], howsoever great they may be, and of whatsoever kind they may be, although the judgment of them nevertheless remains true, by which he is denounced [as] never to be loosed who continues in the course of them, but not after he withdraws from this same [course]." (Pope St. Gelasius I, c. 495 A.D.)

"In pious souls who approach this Sacrament with devotion, profound peace and tranquility of conscience, together with ineffable joy of soul, sometimes accompany this reconciliation. For there is no sin, however great or horrible, which cannot be effaced by the Sacrament of Penance, and that not merely once but over and over again. On this point God Himself thus speaks through the Prophet: If the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die, and I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done. And St. John says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins; and a little later, he adds: If any man sin, - he excepts no sin whatever, - we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just; for he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world. When we read in Scripture that certain persons did not obtain pardon from God, even though they earnestly implored it, we know what this was due to the fact that they had not a true and heartfelt sorrow for their sons. Thus when we find in Sacred Scripture and in the writings of the Fathers passages which seem to assert that certain sins are irremissable, we must understand the meaning to be that it is very difficult to obtain pardon for them. A disease is sometimes called incurable, because the patient is so disposed as to loath the medicines that could afford him relief. In the same way certain sins are not remitted or pardoned because the sinner rejects the grace of God, the only medicine for salvation. It is in this sense that St. Augustine wrote: When a man, who through the grace of Jesus Christ, has once arrived at a knowledge of God, wounds fraternal charity, and, driven by the fury of envy, lifts up his head against grace, the enormity of his sin is so great that, though compelled by a guilty conscience to acknowledge and confess his fault, he finds himself unable to submit to the humiliation of imploring pardon." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance | Our Father's Love Reflections | Priests & Vocations Section | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture) | Mercy (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Guilt From Unremitted Sins Committed Long Ago Still Remains

Also See: Sin (Topic Page)

"Just as in the case of those sins which cannot themselves be permanent, because they pass away as soon as they are committed, but their guilt remains, and if not remitted, will remain in eternity, so too with concupiscence; when remitted, guilt is taken away. For not to have sin means not to be guilty of sin. If anyone, for example, committed adultery, even if he never does it again, he is guilty of adultery until it be remitted... He has the sin, therefore, although that which he committed no longer exists because it passed away along with the passing of time at which he committed it." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 419 A.D.)

Also See: A Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Is Sufficient to Condemn a Soul to Hell for All Eternity | Tough Love in the New Testament | Do All "Good People" Go To Heaven? (Coming Home Section) | There is No Confession After Death | God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven | The Obligation of Confession | Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance | Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Fear of God / Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Obligation of Confession

Also See: Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

"Can. 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 901. Any one who has committed mortal sins after baptism, which have not yet been directly forgiven by the keys of the Church, is obliged to confess all such sins which he can remember after a careful examination of his conscience, and explain in confession any circumstances surrounding them which may alter the nature of the sin." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 906 All members of the faithful of either sex after attaining the years of discretion, that is, the use of reason, are bound faithfully to confess all their sins at least once a year." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he Church obliges all to confess once a year; because she commands all to receive Holy Communion once a year, viz. at Easter, wherefore all must go to confession before that time." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 907 The precept of confessing sins is not satisfied by one who makes a sacrilegious confession or one that is intentionally null." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Fear of God / Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.)

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Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance

Also See: Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 15:18-10)

"Confession is stronger than an exorcism!" (Fr. Amorth, Chief Exorcist/Rome)

"The Saints go to Confession and those who go to Confession become Saints."

"Although confession may be painful, it can actually release you from your pain."

"The Sacrament of Penance [is] the masterpiece of God's goodness." (Pope Pius XII)

"[A] man is repaired in an instant by Divine grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For sins are, so to say, the chains by which the soul is bound, and from which it is freed by the Sacrament of Penance." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[O]ne who has confessed and received absolution will be less punished in Purgatory than one who has gone no further than contrition." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Confession is an act of honesty and courage; an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to a loving and forgiving God. It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father and is welcomed by Him with the gift of peace." (Pope John Paul II)

"Are you scorched, are you burnt to the very core, by the heat of concupiscence? Even so, poor sufferers! You must not lose courage; there is a cool fountain ready to refresh you, and heal all your wounds; not indeed the first font, which gave you the life you have lost; but the second Baptism, the divine Sacrament of Penance, which can restore you to grace and purity!" (Gueranger)

"Can. 959 In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a lawful minister, are sorry for those sins and have a purpose of amendment, receive from God, through the absolution given by that minister, forgiveness of sins they have committed after baptism, and at the same time they are reconciled with the Church, which by sinning they wounded." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Iniquity abounds; crimes are multiplied; and yet, the life-restoring pool, kept full by the sacred stream which flows from the open side of our crucified Lord, is ever absorbing and removing, as often as we permit it, and without leaving one single vestige of them, those mountains of sins, those hideous treasures of iniquity which had been amassed, during long years, by the united agency of the devil, the world, and man himself." (Liturgical Year)

"You see, then, that confession of sin merits the remission of sin. For if we precede the devil in making our accusation, he will not be able to accuse us. If we become our own accusers, it profits us unto salvation. But if we wait until the devil has accused us [i.e. at our judgement], that accusation will deliver us to punishment." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"Penance, considered in itself, has the power to bring all defects back to perfection, and even to advance man to a higher state; but this is sometimes hindered on the part of man, whose movement towards God and in detestation of sin is too remiss, just as in Baptism adults receive a greater or a lesser grace, according to the various ways in which they prepare themselves." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Sins are pardoned through Penance, as stated above (Q86,A1). But there can be no remission of sins except through the infusion of grace. Wherefore it follows that grace is infused into man through Penance. Now all the gratuitous virtues flow from grace, even as all the powers result from the essence of the soul; as stated in the FS,Q110,A4,r 1. Therefore all the virtues are restored through Penance." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"How thankful, then, should not sinners be to God for having bestowed such ample power on the priests of His Church! Unlike the priests of the Old Law who merely declared the leper cleansed from his leprosy, the power now given to the priests of the New Law is not limited to declaring the sinner absolved from his sins, but, as a minister of God, he truly absolves from sin. This is an effect of which God Himself, the author and source of grace and justice, is the principal cause." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If, when we are seriously ill, the medicines prepared for us by the art and industry of the physician are want to be welcome and agreeable to us, how much more welcome and agreeable should those remedies prove which the wisdom of God has established to heal our souls and restore us to the life of grace, especially since they bring with them, not, indeed, uncertain hope of recovery, like the medicines that are applied to the body, but assured health to such as desire to be cured!" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"In truth, where confession is, there is worship and there is honor. If there are sins, they are washed away in confession; if there are good works, they are commended by confession. When you confess your faults, it is a sacrifice to God of a troubled spirit; when you confess the benefits of God, you offer to God the sacrifice of praise. Confession is a fair ornament of the soul, which both cleanses a sinner and makes the righteous more thoroughly cleansed. Without confession, the righteous is deemed ungrateful, and the sinner accounted dead." (St. Bernard, Doctor of the Church)

"But how grand are these other words of our Gospel: Whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven! Oh, the hope and joy they bring to our hearts! How countless is the number of sinners, who are soon to feel the truth of this consoling promise! They will confess their sins, and offer to God the homage of a contrite and humble heart; and, at the very moment that the hand of the priest shall loose them upon earth, than hand of God will loose them from the bonds which held them as victims to eternal punishment." (Gueranger)

"Brethren, it is true that venial sins may be expiated in many ways which are to be highly commended. But to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"I appeal first to you brethren who refuse penance for your acknowledged crimes: you, I say, who are timid after your impudence, who are bashful after your sins, who were not ashamed to sin but now are ashamed to confess. Remember that confession extinguishes hell for you. And you may guess the intensity of hell from what is visible. Some of its chimneys boil away the greatest mountains by its subterranean fires. Etna in Sicily and Vesuvius in the Campania burn with unflagging balls of fire; and they will test us, sear us, devour us in an eternity of judgement, nor will they be finished after any number of ages." (St. Pacian of Barcelona, c. 392 A.D.)

"The care and exactness which its exposition demands of pastors must be at once obvious if we only reflect that most holy persons are firmly persuaded that whatever of piety, of holiness, of religion, has been preserved to our times in the Church, through God's goodness must be ascribed in great measure to confession. It cannot, therefore, be a matter of surprise that the enemy of the human race, in his efforts to destroy utterly the Catholic Church, should, through the agency of the ministers of his wicked designs, have assailed with all his might this bulwark, as it were, of Christian virtue. It should be shown, therefore, in the first place that the institution of confession is most useful and even necessary to us." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"And believe me when I tell you that afterwards you will feel more happy at having confessed your sins than if you had been made monarch of the whole earth. Recommend yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she will obtain for you strength to overcome all repugnance. And if you lack the courage to disclose your sins at once to the confessor, say to him: 'Father, I need your help. I have committed a certain sin which I cannot bring myself to confess.' The confessor will then adopt an easy means of dragging from its den the wild beast that would devour you. All you will have to do is answer Yes or No to his interrogations. And behold, both this temporal and eternal hell have disappeared, the grace of God is recovered, and peace of conscience reigns supreme." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"The manifold mercy of God came to the assistance of fallen men in such a way that the hope of eternal life might be recovered not only by the grace of baptism, but also by the remedy of penance, that those who have violated the gifts of regeneration, condemning themselves by their own judgment, might attain to the remission of their sins; the help of divine goodness having been so ordered that the indulgence of God cannot be obtained except by the supplications of the priests. For the Mediator of God and of men, the man [and God] Christ Jesus [1 Tim. 2:5] has entrusted this power to the leaders of the Church, that they might both grant the action of penance to those confessing, and admit the same [persons] cleansed by salutary satisfaction to the communion of the sacraments through the gate of reconciliation." (Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church, 459 A.D.)

"What a comfort to the guilty, when, stung with remorse and repenting of his sins, he hears the word of the priest who says to him in God's name: 'I absolve thee from thy sins!' These words fall, it is true, from the lips of one who, in his turn, must needs beg the same absolution from another priest. This does not debase the merciful gift; but makes it, rather, appear greater; since beyond the weak creature is seen more clearly the hand of God through whose power is wrought this wonder. As an illustrious layman has written, treating with rare competence of spiritual things: '...when a priest, groaning in spirit at his own unworthiness and at the loftiness of his office, places his consecrated hands upon our heads; when, humiliated at finding himself the dispenser of the Blood of the Covenant; each time amazed as he pronounces the words that give life; when a sinner has absolved a sinner; we, who rise from our knees before him, feel we have done nothing debasing... We have been at the feet of a man who represented Jesus Christ... we have been there to receive the dignity of free men and of sons of God.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Contrition, it is true, blots out sin; but who does not know that to effect this it must be so intense, so ardent, so vehement, as to bear a proportion to the magnitude of the crimes which it effaces? This is a degree of contrition which few reach; and hence, in this way, very few indeed could hope to obtain the pardon of their sins. It, therefore, became necessary that the most merciful Lord should provide by some easier means for the common salvation of men; an this He has done in His admirable wisdom, by giving His Church the keys of the kingdom of heaven. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, a doctrine firmly to be believed and constantly professed by all, if the sinner have a sincere sorrow for his sins and a firm resolution of avoiding them in the future, although he bring not with him that contrition which may be sufficient of itself to obtain pardon, all his sins are remitted through the power of the keys, when he confesses them properly to the priest. Justly, then, do those most holy men, our Fathers, proclaim that by the keys of the Church the gate of heaven is thrown upon, a truth which no one can doubt" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"To appreciate further the great advantages of confession we may turn to a fact taught by experience. To those who have led immoral lives nothing is found so useful towards a reformation of morals as sometimes to disclose their secret thoughts, all their words and actions, to a prudent and faithful friend, who can assist them by his advice and cooperation. For the same reason it must prove most salutary to those whose minds are agitated by the consciousness of guilt to make known the diseases and wounds of their souls to the priest, as the vicegerent of Christ our Lord, bound to eternal secrecy by the strictest of laws. (In the Sacrament of Penance) they will find immediate remedies, the healing qualities of which will not only remove the present malady, but will also have such a heavenly efficacy in preparing the soul against an easy relapse into the same kind of disease and infirmity. Another advantage of confession, which should not be overlooked, is that it contributes powerfully to the preservation of social order. Abolish sacramental confession, and that moment you deluge society with all sorts of secret and heinous crimes - crimes too, and others of still greater enormity, which men, once they have been depraved by vicious habits, will not dread to commit in open day. The salutary shame that attends confession restrains licentiousness, bridles desire and checks wickedness." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Jesus was not content with giving us his assurance that if, after having sinned, we have recourse with humble repentance to the divine Majesty, we shall obtain pardon: as the sentence of God's mercy would thus be without any outward sign, a cruel anxiety would have ever been upon us, leaving us in doubt of our forgiveness. Therefore did this loving Savior ordain that men should give us pardon in his name. That we might know that the Son of Man hath power on earth go forgive sins, he gave power to his delegates to pronounce over us a sentence of absolution which our very ears might hear, and which would convey to our souls the sweet confidence of pardon. O ineffable sacrament, by whose means heaven is peopled by countless numbers who else had been lost, and who will for ever sing the mercies of the Lord! O irresistible power of the words of absolution, which, deriving their efficacy from the Blood of our Redeemer, take away all our iniquities, and plunge them into the abyss of divine mercy! The eternity of torments due to these iniquities would never have expiated them; and yet these few words of the priest: I absolve thee, have utterly annihilated them. Such is the sacrament of penance. In return for the humble confession of our sins and the sincere sorrow for having committed them, we receive pardon, and this not only 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." (Gueranger)

"Gathering the nucleus of His Church round about Him, He said to His Apostles: 'Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.' Somewhere in the world today then, the successors of the Apostles have the power to forgive. It is not for us to ask: But how can man forgive sins? - For man cannot forgive sins. But God can forgive sins through man, for is not that the way God forgave His executioners on the Cross, namely through the instrumentality of His human nature? Why then is it not reasonable to expect Him still to forgive sins through other human natures to whom He gave that power? And where find those human natures? You know the story of the box which was long ignored and even ridiculed as worthless; and one day it was opened and found to contain the great heart of a giant. In every Catholic Church that box exists. We call it the confessional box. It is ignored and ridiculed by many, but in it is to be found the Sacred Heart of the forgiving Christ, forgiving sinners through the uplifted hand of His priest as He once forgave through His own uplifted hands on the Cross. There is only one forgiveness - the Forgiveness of God. There is only one 'Forgive' - the 'Forgive' of an eternal Divine act in which we come in contact at various moments of time. As the air is always filled with symphony and speech, but we do not hear it unless we tune it in on our radios, so neither do souls feel the joy of that eternal and divine 'Forgive' unless they are attuned to it in time; and the confessional box is the place where we tune in to that cry from the Cross." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Confession / Penance (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

Top | Reflections: A-Z | Categ. | Scripture: A-Z | Categ. | Help

Seal of Confession

Also See: Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

"In every confession sin is laid bare to the priest, and closed to others by the seal of confession." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 983 §1 The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason whatsoever. §2 The interpreter, if there is one, and all others who in any way have knowledge of sins from confession are also obliged to observe secrecy." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 984 §1 The confessor is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded. §2 A person who is in authority may not in any way, for the purpose of external governance, use knowledge about sins which has at any time come to him from the hearing of confession." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 889 § 1 The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore a confessor will diligently take care that neither by word nor by sign nor in any other way or for any reason will he betray in the slightest anyone's sin. § 2 Interpreters are likewise bound by the obligation of preserving the sacramental seal, as well as those who in any way come into knowledge of the confession." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1388 §1 A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; he who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict. §2 Interpreters and the others mentioned in can. 983 §2 who violate the secret are to be punished with a just penalty, not excluding excommunication." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Since each one is most anxious that his sins and defilements be buried in oblivion, the faithful are to be admonished that there is no reason whatever to apprehend that what is made known in confession will ever be revealed by the priest to anyone, or that by it the penitent can at any time be brought into danger of any sort. The laws of the Church threaten the severest penalties against any priests who would fail to observe a perpetual and religious silence concerning all the sins confessed to them." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"When Jesus instituted the sacrament of Penance - that second baptism, wherein the Blood of our Redeemer washes away the sins of the Christian soul - he willed that man should not be deterred from confessing his humiliations to his spiritual physician by the fear of their ever being revealed. How many hidden martyrdoms have there not been, during these eighteen hundred years, for the maintenance of this secret, which, whilst it gives security to the penitent, exposes the confessor to obloquy, injustice, and even death... In this great fact of the observance of the seal of confession, upon which depends the salvation of millions of souls, we have a permanent miracle." (Gueranger, 19th century A.D.)

"The Decretal says (De Poenitentia et Remissione, Cap. Omnis utriusque): 'Let the priest beware lest he betray the sinner, by word, or sign, or in any other way whatever.' Further, the priest should conform himself to God, Whose minister he is. But God does not reveal the sins which are made known to Him in confession, but hides them. Neither, therefore, should the priest reveal them... Those things which are done outwardly in the sacraments are the signs of what takes place inwardly: wherefore confession, whereby a man subjects himself to a priest, is a sign of the inward submission, whereby one submits to God. Now God hides the sins of those who submit to Him by Penance; wherefore this also should be signified in the sacrament of Penance, and consequently the sacrament demands that the confession should remain hidden, and he who divulges a confession sins by violating the sacrament. Besides this there are other advantages in this secrecy, because thereby men are more attracted to confession, and confess their sins with greater simplicity... The precept concerning the secret of confession follows from the sacrament itself. Wherefore just as the obligation of making a sacramental confession is of Divine law, so that no human dispensation or command can absolve one therefrom, even so, no man can be forced or permitted by another man to divulge the secret of confession. Consequently if he be commanded under pain of excommunication to be incurred ipso facto, to say whether he knows anything about such and such a sin, he ought not to say it, because he should assume that the intention of the person in commanding him thus, was that he should say what he knew as man. And even if he were expressly interrogated about a confession, he ought to say nothing, nor would he incur the excommunication, for he is not subject to his superior, save as a man, and he knows this not as a man, but as God knows it." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Priests & The Sacrament of Penance (Priests & Vocations Reflections)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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A Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Is Sufficient to Condemn a Soul to Hell for All Eternity 

Also See: Sin (Topic Page) | Hell / Eternal Damnation (Topic Page)

"It is of faith that Heaven exists for the good and Hell for the wicked. Faith teaches that the pains of Hell are eternal, and it also warns us that one single mortal sin suffices to condemn a soul forever because of the infinite malice by which it offends an infinite God." (St. Anthony Mary Claret)

Also See: There is No Confession After Death | The Guilt From Unremitted Sins Committed Long Ago Still Remains | Do All "Good People" Go To Heaven? (Coming Home Section) | Tough Love in the New Testament | God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven | The Obligation of Confession | Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Fear of God / Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Sin (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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There is No Confession After Death

Also See: Death (Topic Page)

"There is hope of mercy in time and in eternity; but there is confession in time only, and not in eternity. There is no confession of sins in any time except in this present life. By his own will each man is permitted and has throughout life the freedom to choose confession. But when we die we lose life and along with it the right to exercise our will. For then a law already set down unto rest or unto punishment sustains, in accord with its past exercise" (St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church, c. 365 A.D.)

Also See: The Guilt From Unremitted Sins Committed Long Ago Still Remains | A Single Unrepented Mortal Sin Is Sufficient to Condemn a Soul to Hell for All Eternity | Tough Love in the New Testament | Do All "Good People" Go To Heaven? (Coming Home Section) | God's Mercy to Sinners / All Sins Can Be Forgiven | The Obligation of Confession | Penance / Confession (Gen'l. Info.) | Penance / Confession (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Penance / Confession (Basics / Misc.) | Praise / Benefits of Confession / Penance | Sin / Sorrow for Sin / Mercy / Deliverance (Prayers) | Fear of God / Fear of the Lord (Topical Scripture) | Sin (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics Section

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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