Baltimore Catechism 3

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 * Q. 379. What is the sacrament of Penance?
A. Penance is the sacrament by which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest.


 * Penance is a supernatural moral virtue that prompts the sinner to detest his sins and incites him to offer satisfaction for them and to amend his life in the future.

 * Penance is also a sacrament instituted by Our Divine Saviour in which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest.

 * Through mortal sin, the soul is deprived of its supernatural life. The sacrament of Penance raises the soul from death to supernatural life.


 * Q. 380. Whence has the priest the power to forgive sins?
A. The priest has the power to forgive sins from Jesus Christ, who said to His apostles and to their successors in the priesthood: "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."


 * Our Lord spoke these words to the apostles when He appeared to them after His Resurrection. During His life on earth, Christ forgave sinners in His own name and by His own authority. Before ascending to His Father in heaven, He wanted to confer that power on His apostles and their successors in the priesthood. He knew that many persons would commit grievous sins after they had received sanctifying grace in the sacrament of Baptism.

 * No man, by his own power and authority, could possibly forgive sins. Only God can do that because sin is an offense against Him. But the priest, as God's representative, can forgive sins because God has given him the power to do so.

 * > "But if thy brother sin against thee, go and show him his fault, between thee and him alone. If he listen to thee, thou hast won thy brother. But if he do not listen to thee, take with thee one or two more so that on the word of two or three witnesses every word may be confirmed. And if he refuse to hear them, appeal to the Church, but if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matthew 18:15-18).


 * Q. 381. With what words does the priest forgive sins?
A. The priest forgives sins with the words: "I absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."


 * The power to forgive sins by pronouncing these words of absolution is given to the priest at his ordination. In order to exercise this power the priest must have jurisdiction, or be authorized to act as a spiritual judge over the persons he absolves. This jurisdiction ordinarily is given to the priest by the bishop of the diocese where the sacrament is administered.

 * The jurisdiction to absolve from certain serious sins and excommunications is reserved to the bishop or the Pope. Except in case of danger of death, or great urgency, a priest must have special authority to absolve these sins and excommunications.


 * Penance


 * The large picture in the center shows Our Lord appearing to the Apostles in the Cenacle on the day of His Resurrection.

 * > "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (St. John 20:22-23)

 * By these words, Our Lord instituted the sacrament of Penance, giving to the Apostles and to all priests the power to remit sins.

 * Jesus Christ forgave sins several times during His life. At the top right, a paralytic has been brought to Him to be cured. Our Lord says to him,

 * > "Take courage, son; thy sins are forgiven thee.' Then, some of the scribes who were present said within themselves, 'This man blasphemes.' And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you harbor evil thoughts in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee," or to say, "Arise, and walk?" But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'-then he said to the paralytic 'Arise, take up thy pallet and go to thy house.' and he arose, and went away to his house' " (St. Matthew 9:2-7)

 * At the bottom right is a penitent who has gone to confession and received the pardon of his sins. On one side is his guardian angel giving him hope for heaven, and on the other side is the demon who was driven from his soul by the absolution. At bottom left is a man who has made a sacrilegious confession. He has cooperated with the demon by willfully holding back a mortal sin in confession, and, instead of obtaining pardon, he has committed another serious sin. His good angel turns away in sorrow while he is led away by the demon.

 * At the top left is a model of perfect contrition in the person of St. Mary Magdalene. This woman, having led an evil life, came one day to lament her sins at the feet of Jesus Christ in the hope of obtaining pardon. Our Lord, who was at table with a Pharisee named Simon, declared that many sins were forgiven Magdalene, because she had loved much. Then He said to her,

 * > "Thy sins are forgiven thee; go in peace." (St. )


 * Q. 382. What are effects of the sacrament of Penance, worthily received?
A. The effects of the sacrament of Penance, worthily received are: first, the restoration or increase of sanctifying grace; second, the forgiveness of sins; third, the remission of the eternal punishment, if necessary, and also of part, at least, of the temporal punishment, due to our sins; fourth, the help to avoid sin in future; fifth, the restoration of the merits of our good works if they have been lost by mortal sin.


 * When we receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, the merits of Christ's redemption are applied to us. Sanctifying grace is either restored or, if we are already in the state of grace, increased. The worthy reception of the sacrament of Penance also gives us a right to receive those actual graces which we will need in atoning for our past sins and avoiding sins in the future.


 * Q. 383. What else does the sacrament of Penance do for us?
A. The sacrament of Penance also gives us the opportunity to receive spiritual advice and instruction from our confessor.


 * It is advisable to have a regular confessor, although one is free to confess to any authorized priest.


 * Q. 384. What must we do to receive the sacrament of Penance worthily?
A. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, we must: first, examine our conscience; second, be sorry for our sins; third, have the firm purpose of not sinning again; fourth, confess our sins to the priest; fifth, be willing to perform the penance the priest gives us.


 * > "But 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. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done: in his justice which he hath wrought, he shall live. Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live?" (Ezechiel 18:21-23).


 * Q. 385. What is an examination of conscience?
A. An examination of conscience is a sincere effort to call to mind all the sins we have committed since our last worthy confession.


 * Q. 386. What should we do before our examination of conscience?
A. Before our examination of conscience, we should ask God's help to know our sins and to confess them with sincere sorrow.


 * Q. 387. How can we make a good examination of conscience?
A. We can make a good examination of conscience by calling to mind the commandments of God and of the Church, and the particular duties of our state of life, and by asking ourselves how we may have sinned with regard to them.


 * We should give sufficient time to an examination of conscience, making it carefully and thoughtfully, and attempting to remember all our sins.




 * When a person becomes sick he tries to recover his health by taking medicine. Our Blessed Lord knew that human beings are inclined to sin and thus bring on themselves sickness of soul. Indeed, mortal sin brings on spiritual death, for it deprives the soul of its supernatural life, sanctifying grace. For those who sin before being baptized, Our Saviour intended Baptism as the means of forgiveness and for the birth of the soul to the life of grace. But he knew that even after Baptism many would sin, some even grievously; and in His mercy He determined to provide these with a remedy-a sacrament that would be more potent in the spiritual order than the most effective medicine is in the physical order. For no medicine can restore a dead person to life; but the sacrament which Our Lord determined to give us is able to restore the life of grace to any soul, no matter how grievously it may be laden with sin. The sacrament is Penance. Our Lord gave some indication of His purpose to provide such a sacrament when He said to the apostles: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven" ( 18). In these words, is implied the power to loose men from the bonds of sin. But a clearer declaration of this sacrament is found in Our Lord's words to the apostles on Easter Sunday after His resurrection: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" ( 23). This power of forgiving sins, being given by Our Lord for the benefit of all mankind, has been passed down to the successors of the apostles, the bishops and the priests of the Catholic Church.

 * Our Saviour could indeed have decreed that men should receive the pardon of their sins by going directly to God with contrition. But a sacrament, administered by men in the name of God, is a more assuring and a more effective means. The conditions for the reception of this sacrament are very easy. The penitent confesses his sins with true contrition and the priest by the authority of God forgives him. In the early days of Christianity, the Church administered this sacrament with far greater severity than nowadays. The worst sinners were sometimes obliged to perform penance publicly for a long time before receiving the pardon of their sins. But today the Church is most lenient; she receives the sinner kindly and makes his return to God as easy as possible. Every day throughout the world thousands of sinners are making use of the sacrament of Penance to have the sins of many years washed from their souls and to be restored to the life of grace and the friendship of God.

 * Sometimes a person is refused absolution in the confessional because the priest judges that he is not sufficiently disposed for the reception of the sacrament of Penance. This is particularly the case when the priest believes that the penitent is not truly sorry for his sins or has not a firm resolution to avoid sin and the near occasions of sin in future. A person who has been refused absolution should humbly accept the priest's decision and endeavor to dispose himself properly so that he may receive absolution when he returns to confession at the time determined by the confessor.

 * We can never sufficiently thank Our Blessed Saviour for the sacrament of Penance. We read in the Gospel of various occasions on which He Himself forgave sinners, such as the case of Mary Magdalene and of the penitent thief who hung beside Him on Calvary. We feel that these persons were fortunate because they received from the lips of Christ Himself the consoling assurance that their sins were forgiven. Yet, we too have a like assurance, for Our Lord Himself really administers the sacrament of Penance through the ministry of His priest; He himself says to us, when we have made a worthy confession: "Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee."




 * Resolve after every confession to thank Our Blessed Lord for the great benefit He has given us in the sacrament of Penance.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 29





 * (Join correctly the parts of the sentences in Columns I and II, by placing the right key letter in the proper parenthesis.)


 * Column I


 * The sacrament of Penance (...).

 * Although it is advisable to have a regular confessor (...).

 * Besides the power of ordination the priest needs for the administration of the sacrament of Penance (...).

 * Only God can forgive sins (...).

 * A person who is restored to sanctifying grace receives back (...).

 * Jurisdiction to forgive sins is ordinarily given to a priest (...).

 * Our Lord said to the apostles: "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, etc." (. .).

 * In the early days of the Church sinners were sometimes obliged (...).

 * The penitent thief was assured by Christ Himself (...).

 * A person who has not the firm purpose of avoiding mortal sin in future cannot receive (...).


 * Column II


 * By the bishop of the diocese in which the sacrament is administered.

 * On Easter Sunday.

 * The pardon of his sins in the sacrament of Penance.

 * One is free to confess to any authorized priest.

 * That his sins were forgiven.

 * By His own power.

 * To perform penance publicly.

 * The merits of his good works, which were lost by sin.

 * The power of jurisdiction.

 * Restores the soul to supernatural life.



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct);


 * Egbert, dead in mortal sin, has his soul brought back to life by Father Reuben. Explain the terms "dead in mortal sin"-"brought back to life." What 'miraculous power' did Father Reuben use to bring about this spiritual resurrection? Who gave him that power?

 * Mary Magdalene and the Good Thief had the consoling experience of hearing directly from Our Saviour Himself that their sins were forgiven. Have we a similar assurance that our sins are forgiven? Explain.

 * In your own way explain the meaning of the word "penance" used in the following sentences:

 * Do penance for your sins.

 * Baptism was the first Sacrament received by Lucinda; Penance, the second.

 * At home, Dinah is on penance, washing and drying the dishes, and putting them away, because she stayed out overtime last night.

 * Write from memory the words that Our Lord spoke Easter Sunday evening when He gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins.

 * Thornton, a Protestant boy, tells Elmer, a Catholic that it is ridiculous to believe the priest can forgive sins, since the priest is a mere man, and only God can forgive sin. What answer should Elmer give?

 * Constance wants to know what the priest is saying in Latin while she is reciting her act of contrition at the end of her confession. Tell her.

 * Dexter, in the graduating class of St. Carmela's, confides to his chum Morgan that Father Demetrius would not give him absolution today when he went to confession. Ordinarily what does this refusal indicate? What advice should Morgan give his pal, Dexter?

 * Who authorized Father Demetrius to hear Dexter's confession? When did Father Demetrius receive the power to hear confessions? Where did this power come from?

 * Father Tibertus is a priest of a New England diocese. He is on his way to the Pacific Coast in a train. Near the journey's end, Conrad, a fellow passenger, asks Father Tibertus to hear his confession; Father Tibertus excuses himself, explaining he has no jurisdiction to do so, being out of his own proper diocese. Yet, five minutes later, he hears the confession of Owen, another passenger, who is stricken fatally with a heart attack. Why the distinction? Explain.

 * Theodosia, a Catholic lady in a big city, makes it a devotional hobby to go to confession to a different priest every week in the year. Do you approve of her practice? State your reason for answering that way.

 * Adeline has made her last ten confessions to Father Hiram. At present, she is in an agony of suspense because she is ashamed to mention a certain doubt about a serious temptation she had during the past week. Advise her what to do, and give her the reason for your advice.

 * Maureen asks her older brother, Patrick, who is studying for the priesthood why Our Lord isn't satisfied that we should go to Him directly for the pardon of our sins but demands that we confess them to the priest.

 * What answer do you think Patrick will give his little sister?


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