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of penance equally necessary for obtaining the forgiveness of venial sins ?
A. No; and the reason is this, the effect of mortal sin is to kill the soul entirely, by depriving it of the grace of God, which is the life of the 'soul; hence mortal sin makes the sinner an enemy to God, an object of his hatred and indignation. On the other hand, venial sin does not kill the soul, nor banish the grace of God from it, but only diminishes the splendour of its beauty,and weakens the fervour of its charity, but still the person continues a friend of God. Hence, to restore a soul in mortal sin to the state of grace and to the friendship of God, it is required that there be an infusion of justifying grace into that soul where it was not before; now, this is the pure effect of the mercy of God through the merits of Christ, which no act of the sinner can possibly deserve of itself; and this justifying grace can only be obtained by the sacrament of penance, which Christ has been pleased to institute for this very purpose. But to increase the fervour of charity, to augment the spiritual beauty of the soul, to obtain a greater degree of sanctifying grace from God, and, consequently, to wash away the stains of venial sin, is the proper effect of every good action which a soul, already in the state of grace, performs, when accompanied with a sorrow for having offended God by these venial sins, or even by a sincere repentance in general, for all her past sins. So that, ibough venial sins are most perfectly and securely remitted by the sacrament of penance, yet they are also remitted by other means, such as by devoutly receiving the other sacraments, by fervent prayer, by holy acts of the love of God, and other such pious actions; whereas, mortal sin can no otherwise be remitted but by the sacrament of penance only.
Q. 14. What are the effects of the sacrament of penance ?
A. (1) If the penitent be under the guilt of mortal sin, by this sacrament the grace of justification is poured down into his soul, by which the guilt of his sins is washed away, and he is restored to the friendship of God. (2.) If he be already in the state of grace by the sacrament of penance, he receives an increase of sanctifying grace, by which his soul is rendered more holy and beautiful in the sight of God. (3.) He also receives such helps ot actual grace as enable him the more effectually to avoid sin, and to persevere in the friendship oi God. (4.) By cleansing the soul from the guilt of siņ, ihis sacrament also delivers the soul from the eternal punishment due to that guilt; because it restores the sinner to the grace and friendship of God, and reunites him with Jesus Christ; now, “ there is nothing of damnation in those who are in Christ Jesus," Rom. viii. I. (5.) It also delivers, in part, from the temporal punishment due to his sins, in proportion to the fervour of his repentance with which he receives it.
Q. 15. What are the parts of the sacrament of penance ?
A. There are three parts of the sacrament of penance; to wit, contrition, confession, and satisfaction. By contrition is understood the dispositions required in the penitent, with which he must be prepared for receiving this sacrament. By confession is understood the actual applying to receive it; and by satisfaction is meant the performing the penance which the priest imposes on the sinner when he administers this sacrament to him.
Q.16. What are the dispositions required in the penitent for receiving the sacrament of penance ?
A. They are all contained in a sincere repentance or contrition for his sins, which, as we have seen above at large, Chap. XVII, consists of these three things : (1.) A sincere sorrow for having of fended our good God, with a detestation of our sins, by which we have offended him. (2.) A firm purpose and resolution to avoid sin, and all the dangerous occasions of it, for the tinie to come. And, (3.) A being willing and ready to do penance for past sins in order to satisfy tho divino justice for them.
Q. 17. Are these three conditions absolutely necessary for receiving the grace of justification in this sacrament?
A. They are all absolutely necessary for disa posing the soul to receive that grace; as we have seen at large, Chap. XVII.: insomuch, that if any one of them he wanting, though the sentence of absolution be pronounced upon the sinner by the priest, yet the grace of forgiveness will not be granted by Jesus Christ.
OF SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION
Q. 18. What is sacramental confession ?
A. It is the laying open the state of our souls to a priest, by humbly accusing ourselves to him of all our sins, in order to obtain the grace of absolution.
Q. 19. Is this confession of our sins necessary for obtaining absolution ?
A. It is ordained by Jesus Christ, as a condition absolutely necessary for this purpose; insomuch, that without it, the grace of the sacrament of penance, by wbich our sins are pardoned, and we restored to the friendship of God, will not be bestowed upon us.
Q. 20. How does this necessity appear from Scripture ?
A. It is included in the very power whicb Jesus Christ gave to the pastors of the Church, of binding and loosing, of remitting and retaining sins. For, by giving them this power, he constituted them judges of our souls in his own stead, the ministers of reconciliation between God and the sinner; consequently, it is bis will that they should exercise this power with justice and discretion, according to the merits of the cause, and the dispositions of the penitent; for we cannot suppose he intended they should exercise it at random; it would be impiety to suppose it. Besides, as this tribunal is not a tribunal of strict vindictive justice, for punishing the offender to the extent of what he deserves, seeing nothing less than hell-fire is the proper punishment of mortal sin, but is a tribunal of mercy, where, by the sentence of absolution, the sinner is delivered both from the guilt of his sins, and from the eternal punishment due to them; and this eternal punishment is exchanged for a temporal punishment, which, through the merits of Christ applied to our souls in this sacrament, both contribute to satisfy the divine justice, and is most wholesome and salutary to the peuitent ; it is, doubtless, the will of Jesus Christ, that the priest, when he exercises the power of binding, and lays this penance on the penitent, should do it with a just proportion to his guilt and disposi
tions. Now, it is self-evident, that the priest can neither act with justice or prudence, in forgiving or retaining sins, nor observe the just proportion in imposing the propër punishment suitable to the guilt and dispositions of the sinner, unless he knows the real state of his soul; both as to his guilt and dispositions ; and, as none can possibly discover this to him but the sinner himself, hence it manifestly follows, that the very power of binding and loosing, of forgiving and retaining sins, given by Jesus Christ to the priests of his Church, necessarily includes a strict obligation on sinners to lay open the state of their souls, by an bumble confession of all their sins to a priest, in order to receive the effect of that power, and to be absolved from their sins by him.
Moreover, the sacrament of penance is intended not only to be the means of freeing us from the guilt of our past sins, but also, and in a particular manner, to be a preservative against sin for the time to come, by applying proper remedies for curing all the distempers of the soul. Now these remedies are of two sorts, the grace of God, and our co-operation. The grace of God is applied to our souls by the sacrament itself, and our pastors are appointed, as the spiritual physicians of our souls, to prescribe to us the necessary co-operation required on our part, and this they do, by pointing out to us what we ought to do for avoiding or overcoming temptations, for conquering our passions, and for breaking our ill customs; by discovering to us the delusions of Satan ; by instructing us in our duty where we may be ignorant of it; by rectifying the mistakes into wbich our selflove is so apt to hurry us; by encouraging us, if faint-hearted in the concerns of our souls; by comforting us, if afflicted with trouble of mind; and by giving us every other necessary assistance whick