Baltimore Catechism 3

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 * Q. 388. What is contrition?
A. Contrition is sincere sorrow for having offended God, and hatred for the sins we have committed, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.


 * It is unreasonable to expect a person to pardon us for any offense unless we are sincerely sorry for the act that has given offense and are firmly determined not to repeat the act in the future.

 * By sin we offend and insult God. Unless we are sincerely sorry for our sins and are firmly resolved not to commit them again, we cannot reasonably expect God to forgive us.

 * > "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord; and he will have mercy on him: and to our God; for he is bountiful to forgive" (Isaias 55:7).

 * > "And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment and justice, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away himself from all his iniquities which he hath wrought, he shall surely live and not die" (Ezechiel 18:27-28).

 * > "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many hired men in my father's house have bread in abundance, while I am perishing here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired men.' And he arose and went to his father.

 * > "But while he was yet a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. I am no longer worthy to be called thy son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Fetch quickly the best robe and put it on him, and give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet; and bring out the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; because this my son was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry" (Luke 15:17-24).


 * Q. 389. Will God forgive us any sin that we don't have true contrition for?
A. God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it.


 * Sometimes people are unwilling to pardon our offenses against them even when we are sincerely sorry for having offended them. But God will always forgive us our sins when we are sincerely sorry for them. He will not forgive us, however, unless we are sincerely sorry.

 * > "Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return and forgive and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?" (Joel 2:12-14).


 * Q. 390. When is sorrow for sin true contrition?
A. Sorrow for sin is true contrition when it is interior, supernatural, supreme, and universal.


 * > David's sorrow for sin as expressed in is true contrition:

 * > It is interior: "My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (v. 19).

 * > It is supernatural: "Create a pure heart for me, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit" (v. 12).

 * > It is supreme: The entire conveys David's hatred of sin and his willingness to endure anything rather than sin again.

 * > It is universal: "Turn thy face away from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities" (v. 11).


 * Q. 391. When is our sorrow interior?
A. Our sorrow is interior when it comes from our heart, and not merely from our lips.


 * It is not enough merely to say that we are sorry for our sins. We must really mean it. We must sincerely detest our sins and firmly intend not to commit them again. We do not, however, have to feel our sorrow, for contrition is an act of the will, not of the feelings.


 * Q. 392. When is our sorrow supernatural?
A. Our sorrow is supernatural when, with the help of God's grace, it arises from motives that spring from faith and not merely from natural motives.


 * "Motives that spring from faith" are truths God has revealed; God has revealed, for example, that mortal sin will be punished in hell, venial sin in purgatory; that sin caused Christ to die; that sin is an offense against the infinite goodness of God; and that sin is hateful in itself. If we are sorry for our sins for one of these reasons, then, with God's grace, our sorrow is supernatural; it is prompted by truths which we believe because of the authority of God who revealed them.

 * If we are sorry for our sins because they injure our health or will be punished by the civil courts or cause us to lose our friends, then our sorrow is natural. It is prompted by natural reasons. It is not wrong to be sorry for our sins because of natural motives; but this natural sorrow is not sufficient to obtain God's pardon.


 * Q. 393. When is our sorrow supreme?
A. Our sorrow is supreme when we hate sin above every other evil, and are willing to endure anything rather than offend God in the future by sin.


 * We know that sin is the greatest of all evils because it is an offense against God, the greatest Good, and for that reason we should detest it more than we detest any other evil.


 * Q. 394. When is our sorrow universal?
A. Our sorrow is universal when we are sorry for every mortal sin that we may have had the misfortune to commit.


 * When mortal sins are forgiven sanctifying grace enters the soul and it is impossible for sanctifying grace to enter the soul if a single mortal sin remains there. All our mortal sins, therefore, must be forgiven, or none of them is forgiven.


 * Q. 395. Should we always try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance?
A. We should try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance, and, when we have only venial sins to confess, we must have sorrow for at least one of them or for some sin of our past life which we confess.


 * Q. 396. Why should we have contrition for mortal sin?
A. We should have contrition for mortal sin because it is the greatest of all evils, gravely offends God, keeps us out of heaven, and condemns us forever to hell.


 * > "Turn to the Lord: and forsake thy sins ... Return to the Lord, and turn away from thy injustice: and greatly hate abomination" (Ecclesiasticus 17:21, 23).

 * > "If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn" (John 15:6).

 * > "Or do you not know that the unjust will not possess the kingdom of God?" (1 Corinthians 6:9).

 * > "But when sin has matured, it begets death" (James 1:15).


 * Q. 397. Why should we have contrition for venial sin?
A. We should have contrition for venial sin because it is displeasing to God, merits temporal punishment, and may lead to mortal sin.


 * As long as a person has mortal sin on his soul he cannot be pardoned for his venial sins. Mortal sin makes man an enemy of God. He cannot, therefore, receive pardon for his slighter offenses if he does not receive pardon for the serious offenses that make him an enemy of God.

 * A person having only venial sins on his soul can obtain pardon for those for which he is sincerely sorry, even though other venial sins remain unforgiven because he is not sorry for them.


 * Q. 398. How many kinds of contrition are there?
A. There are two kinds of contrition: perfect contrition and imperfect contrition.


 * Q. 399. When is our contrition perfect?
A. Our contrition is perfect when we are sorry for our sins because sin offends God, whom we love above all things for His own sake.


 * We love God because He is the supreme Good. Sin is the greatest evil because it is an offense against God, the supreme Good. Our sorrow for sin is perfect, therefore, when we detest sin because it offends God, whom we love above all things.

 * See Scripture, question 390, .


 * Q. 400. When is our contrition imperfect?
A. Our contrition is imperfect when we are sorry for our sins because they are hateful in themselves or because we fear God's punishment.


 * Imperfect contrition is sometimes called attrition.

 * > "And the children of Israel said to the Lord: We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever pleaseth thee. Only deliver us this time" (Judges 10:15).


 * Q. 401. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, what kind of contrition is sufficient?
A. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, imperfect contrition is sufficient.


 * Q. 402. Should we always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance?
A. We should always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance because perfect contrition is more pleasing to God, and because with His help we can always have it.


 * Q. 403. How can a person in mortal sin regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance?
A. A person in mortal sin can regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance by making an act of perfect contrition with the sincere purpose of going to confession.


 * It is not true that we can regain the state of grace by perfect contrition only when we are in danger of death or when it is impossible to go to confession. In order to regain sanctifying grace by perfect contrition, it is sufficient that we intend to go to confession the next time we are obliged to do so.

 * "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 18:23).


 * Q. 404. What should we do if we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin?
A. If we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin, we should ask God's pardon and grace at once, make an act of perfect contrition, and go to confession as soon as we can.


 * Q. 405. May we receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin, if we merely make an act of perfect contrition?
A. We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin, if we merely make an act of perfect contrition; one who has sinned grievously must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion.


 * Q. 406. What is the firm purpose of sinning no more?
A. The firm purpose of sinning no more is the sincere resolve not only to avoid sin but to avoid as far as possible the near occasions of sin.


 * This firm purpose of amendment does not necessarily exclude the fear that a person may repeat his sin in the future. It does mean that, at the time, a person, relying fully upon God's grace, sincerely intends never to commit this sin again.

 * The firm purpose of amendment includes also the intention to remain away from persons, places, or things that may easily lead him to sin.

 * The firm purpose of amendment must include not only those mortal sins which the person has committed in the past and confessed, but also all mortal sins.

 * > "He that loveth danger shall perish in it" (Ecclesiasticus 3:27).

 * > "My son, hast thou sinned? Do so no more: but for thy former sins also pray that they may be forgiven thee. Flee from sins as from the face of a serpent: for if thou comest near them, they will take hold of thee" (Ecclesiasticus 21:1-2).

 * > "Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation" (Mark 14:38). "Then Jesus said, 'Neither will I condemn thee. Go thy way, and from now on sin no more' "(John 8:11).

 * > "Do not be led astray, 'evil companionships corrupt good morals' " (1 Corinthians 15:33).


 * Q. 407. What purpose of amendment must a person have if he has only venial sins to confess?
A. If a person has only venial sins to confess, he must have the purpose of avoiding at least one of them.




 * If we insult a friend, it is our duty to ask his pardon, to tell him we are sorry, to promise that we shall not repeat the offense. We must do the same toward God when we offend Him by sin. We cannot expect Him to forgive us unless we turn to Him with true sorrow of soul, or contrition. On the other hand, if we turn to Him with the necessary contrition, He will forgive us. In this, His mercy is greater than that of creatures. Sometimes we ask a human being to pardon the wrong we have done, but he refuses. But God is always ready to forgive the sinner, however wicked he has been, if he returns to his heavenly Father with true sorrow of heart. Naturally, this sorrow must be based on motives of faith, not on merely natural motives. It must extend to all mortal sins, it must include a firm purpose of not sinning, at least mortally, in future; it must contain the will to endure any suffering rather than offend God by grievous sin in the time to come. Such an act of contrition is not difficult for anyone who knows from the principles of the Catholic faith how terrible an evil is sin. One must remember also that God is always ready to give the grace to make an act of contrition to anyone who sincerely begs His assistance.

 * When we say that God will not forgive any sin without contrition, we are speaking only of actual sin, not of original sin. We cannot have contrition for original sin since we did not contract it by our own free will; hence, infants who have only original sin are cleansed of that sin by Baptism, without making any act of contrition.

 * In the sacrament of Penance, contrition based on any supernatural motive suffices, even though it arises merely from the fear of God's punishments, of which He has spoken to us frequently in revelation. It is true, contrition based on fear alone is not very noble. Indeed, it might be called selfish. Yet, Our Lord proposed this as a good motive of contrition when He said: "Be afraid of him who, after He was killed, has power to cast into hell" ( 5). Other reasons for contrition, sufficient to obtain the forgiveness of sins in the sacrament of Penance, are the realization of the ingratitude to God that every sin contains, the hatefulness of sin as opposed to the supernatural virtues, the injustice to our Creator included in every transgression of His law.

 * The noblest type of contrition is that which arises from the love of God for His own sake, or because of His own goodness. This is called perfect contrition, and it has the power to procure the forgiveness of all mortal sins that may be on the soul of the person who detests his sins from this motive. It was of this contrition that Our Lord spoke when He said, pointing to the repentant sinner, Mary Magdalene, "Her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much" ( 47). It is indeed unfortunate that Catholics are often unaware of the wonderful power of perfect contrition. Some think it remits sin only when one is in danger of death and cannot get to confession. The truth is that an act of perfect contrition will always take away mortal sin; one has only to have the intention of going to confession when he is next obliged to do so-that is, within the year or when in danger of death-and telling the mortal sins which have been remitted by perfect contrition. One who has had his sins forgiven by perfect contrition may not go to Communion until he has been to confession; nevertheless he can enjoy the advantages of being in the state of grace and of gaining merit for his good works.

 * A person can have at the same time both perfect and imperfect contrition for his sins. One does not exclude the other. For this reason we say in our act of contrition: "I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments" thus expressing imperfect contrition, and then we add our expression of perfect contrition, when we say: "But most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love."




 * Resolve that if ever you are so unfortunate as to fall into mortal sin, you will immediately make an act of perfect contrition and thus regain the state of sanctifying grace.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 30





 * Check each statement given below as either true or false. The correct answer will be found in the preceding portions of the lesson.)


 * A person can have both perfect and imperfect contrition at the same time.

 * An act of perfect contrition will take away a person's mortal sins even when he is not in danger of death and can go to confession.

 * A person cannot have true contrition unless he is sure that he will never sin mortally again.

 * We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin until we have gone to confession, even though we have received the pardon of the sin by perfect contrition.

 * The purpose of amendment need not include any sins except the kind which the penitent has confessed.

 * If we have only venial sins to confess we can receive the sacrament of Penance fruitfully even though we are not sorry for any of them, provided we confess some sin of the past for which we are truly sorry.

 * We do not have to feel our sorrow, as long as it is in our will.

 * If we are sorry for some of our mortal sins but not for all of them, we can receive the pardon of those for which we are sorry.

 * A person in mortal sin can receive the pardon of the venial sins for which he is sorry.

 * A person who has only venial sins on his soul can obtain the pardon of those for which he has contrition, even though he is not sorry for the others.



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


 * Alvin asks, can we be sorry for original sin? Answer him, giving the reason for your answer.

 * Bede, a highly sensitive lad, is wondering has he true sorrow for his sins. That wonder is occasioned by his inability to be emotional during the recitation of the act of contrition. Give your comment on this problem of Bede-in three or four sentences.

 * Enumerate at least five motives for contrition that spring from faith.

 * Ivan, a prisoner in the State Prison, is in a death cell, with only two more weeks to live. His crimes were robbery and murder. He is grieving over the shame and sorrow he is causing his devout Catholic parents. He is dreading the ordeal of execution. He is afraid of God's punishments in the next life. Is he disposed to receive absolution? Which of the foregoing motives for sorrow is sufficient for his worthy reception of the sacrament of Penance? Why?

 * Through shame, Cynthia keeps back in confession one of her five mortal sins. How many mortal sins are on her soul as she leaves the confessional? Explain your answer.

 * Ulysses thinks he can get rid of his venial sins by his prayers and by using sacramentals; he is not sorry for some of his mortal sins. Is his opinion correct about the pardon of his venial sins under these circumstances? Give the reason for your answer.

 * Olga, a daily communicant, is sorry for her venial sins of anger, but not much concerned about her numerous petty lies. She confesses only her sins of anger, but purposely does not confess her many small lies. Is her confession good? Why? Are both classes of venial sin forgiven, or only one? If only one, which one? Explain the answer.

 * In a Catechism quiz Dennis lost first prize because he could not give the definition of attrition. What is it? Give a complete definition of it.

 * Wilhelmina in the third grade is listening closely to the catechist's vivid portrayal of Our Lord's sufferings. After a while the catechist notices tears glistening in her innocent eyes. Would you say that natural or supernatural contrition in the soul of Wilhelmina has given rise to those tears? What is the reason for your answer?

 * Write from memory the act of contrition that you say when you make your confession. Analyze it, pointing out whether it is perfect, imperfect, or a combination of both kinds of contrition. If a combination of both, mark a single line under the expression of imperfect contrition, and a double line under that of perfect contrition.

 * Arnold is not convinced that fear of God's punishments is a wholesome religious motive for sorrow. Tell him why he is wrong.

 * Remy, a boy of 9, is unfortunately led to commit his first mortal sin by Quincy, a vicious companion of 11. That night Remy is afraid to go to sleep. He knows that if he dies during the night in mortal sin he will be lost forever in the fire of hell. What should he try to do? When should he do it?

 * Callistus and Melba are on their honeymoon trip-a cruise of twelve days. There is no priest aboard the ship. Through human respect, both of them eat a meat dinner on Friday, the first day of their trip. Both are soon ashamed of their moral cowardice. How long will they have to wait before they get back into the state of grace? Explain your answer.

 * Pulcheria is unusually fond of dancing. Of late, she has been frequenting a disreputable dance hall, chiefly because she meets there a very skillful dancing partner, Ethan. The place has affected her morals quite seriously. The last ten times she has been there, she has broken God's laws seriously. She makes a very truthful confession of her wickedness, but is very disappointed when the priest insists that she stay away from the place altogether. Pulcheria promises to avoid the sins and asks the priest's permission to keep going to the dance hall. The priest firmly, but kindly, refuses to grant her request. Write a paragraph of comment on the situation-a paragraph of about four sentences.

 * Hans has 15 venial sins to confess: 5 small lies, 5 slight outbursts of anger, and 5 acts of disobedience to his parents. His purpose of amendment covers only the sins of disobedience. Does he make a good confession? How could he make it better?

 * Merlin, staying at a camp for the summer, committed a mortal sin; but that same evening made an act of perfect contrition. The following Sunday he attended Mass, celebrated by a visiting priest in the dining hall of the camp. The priest explained to the congregation that he could not hear confessions because he came from another diocese and did not have jurisdiction for administering the sacrament of Penance in the diocese where the camp was situated. "However," he added, "those who have committed no mortal sin since their last confession may receive Holy Communion, if they wish." Merlin concluded that, even though he had committed a mortal sin since his last confession, he was now in the state of grace through his act of perfect contrition; hence, he received Holy Communion. Did he reason correctly?


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