The few inconveniences arising from the perversity of men, which the Church has met with admirable legislation, should not blind men to the great good that confession has brought, not only to the individual, but even to society.  In Paenitemini it is affirmed that "[b]y divine law all the faithful are required to do penance. The “Life of St. Columba” relates the coming of Feachnaus to Iona, where, with weeping and lamentation, he fell at Columba’s feet and “before all who were present confessed his sins. Not only when they (the priests) regenerate us (baptism), but also after our new birth, they can forgive us our sins” (De sacerd., III, 5 sq.). The act imposed is itself called a penance or epitemia. Regarding this, Origen, after speaking of baptism, tells us: “There is a yet more severe and arduous pardon of sins by penance, when the sinner washes his couch with tears, and when he blushes not to disclose his sin to the priest of the Lord and seeks the remedy” (Homil. The office of poenitentiarius had already (390) been abolished in the East by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in consequence of a scandal that grew out of public confession. The principal act in the exercise of this virtue is the detestation of one’s own sin. This is also the teaching of Eugenius IV in the “Decretumpro Armenis” (Council of Florence, 1439) which calls the acts “quasi materia” of penance and enumerates them as contrition, confession, and satisfaction (Denzinger-Bannwart, “Enchir.”, 699). The Council of Trent, after declaring that Christ left His priests as His vicars unto whom as rulers and judges the faithful must make known their sins, adds: “It is evident that the priests could not have exercised this judgment without knowledge of the cause, nor could they have observed justice in enjoining satisfaction if (the faithful) had declared their sins in a general way only and not specifically and in detail” (Sess. They are practically unanimous in holding that confession is obligatory; the only notable exception in the twelfth century is Gratian, who gives the arguments for and against the necessity of confessing to a priest and leaves the question open (Decretum, p. II, De poen., d. 1, in P.L., CLXXXVII, 1519-63). 1427 Jesus calls to conversion. How can a wise and prudent judgment be rendered if the priest be in ignorance of the cause on which judgment is pronounced? Protestant theologians realize, not only the value of the Catholic theological position, but also the need of the confessional for the spiritual regeneration of their subjects. cccxxxii, c. iii). After which the priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort: ‚ÄòOur Lord Jesus Christ, who has left the power to his Church etc.” Since the beginning of the Oxford Movement confession after the manner practiced in the Catholic Church has become more frequent among those of the High Church party. Yet it is precisely during this period that the Church has defined in the most exact terms the nature of penance and most vigorously insisted on the necessity of confession. Or again they declare that God wants us to perform satisfaction in order that we may clear off our indebtedness to His justice. According to Scotus (In IV Sent., d. 16, q. But after Our Lord had restored peace to his Churches, and terror had ceased, it was judged well that communion be given the dying lest we should seem to follow the harshness and sternness of the heretic Novatian in denying pardon. In penance is proclaimed mankind's unworthiness in the face of God's condescension, the indispensable disposition to God's grace. ", It may consist of prayer, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, "and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we all must bear. (In Matt., xvi, 19); in his “Sermon on Penance” he says: “let no one find it irksome to show his wound (vulnus confiteri) because without confession it cannot be healed.” St. Ambrose (d. 397): “this right (of loosing and binding) has been conferred on priests only” (De poen., I, ii, n. 7); St. Satisfaction is not, like contrition and confession, an essential part of the sacrament, because the primary effect—i.e., remission of guilt and eternal punishment—is obtained without satisfaction; but it is an integral part, because it is requisite for obtaining the secondary effect—i.e., remission of the temporal punishment. Hib., col. 482). But this was not a personal prerogative that was to cease at their death; it was granted to them in their official capacity and hence as a permanent institution in the Church—no less permanent than the mission to teach and baptize all nations. The transmission of this power is plainly expressed in the prayer used at the consecration of a bishop as recorded in the Canons of Hippolytus (q.v. “ Oh happy penance, which merited for me so great glory” -St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church There are three ways the word penance is used in Christianity which are: Though Albertus Magnus (In IV Sent., dist. on Ps. cit., p. 144 sqq. Origen also says: “For the graver crimes, there is only one opportunity of penance” (Hom. For though sanctifying grace alone forgives and purges sins from the soul, it is necessary that the individual consent to this action of grace by the work of the virtue of penance, Penance helps to conquer sinful habits and builds generosity, humility and patience. No law can compel him to divulge the sins confessed to him, or any oath which he takes—e.g., as a witness in court.  In mainstream Lutheranism, the faithful often receive the sacrament of penance from a Lutheran priest before receiving the Eucharist. Hence it is clear that not even heartfelt sorrow based on the highest motives, can, in the present order of salvation, dispense with the power of the keys, i.e., with the Sacrament of Penance. yet who will dare to say to God: Wherefore dost thou once more spare this man who after a first penance has again bound himself in the fetters of sin?” (Ep. 2; Cajetan, ibid. de Poenitentia”, dem. It has been made clear that the Church has simply carried out the mind of Christ: “Whatsoever you shall loose shall be loosed”; still we do not hesitate to accept Mr. Lea’s reason, that this institution answers in large measure to the needs of men, who morally are indeed weak and in darkness. ), An undeniable proof both of the practice of confession and of the necessity of satisfaction is found in the usage of the early Church according to which severe and often prolonged penance was prescribed and performed. This view was put forward by Peter Martinez (de Osma) in the proposition: “mortal sins as regards their guilt and their punishment in the other world, are blotted out by contrition alone without any reference to the keys”; and the proposition was condemned by Sixtus IV in 1479 (Denzinger-Bannwart, “Enchir.”, 724). This is because in Orthodox sacramental theology, confession is not made to the priest, but to Christ; the priest being there as a witness, friend and advisor. Was it for nothing that the keys were given to the Church?” (Sermo cccxcii, n. 3, in P.L., XXXIX, 1711). During all the preceding centuries, Catholic belief in this power had been so clear and strong that in order to set it aside Protestantism was obliged to strike at the very constitution of the Church and reject the whole content of Tradition. The Catholic teaching consequently is: that all mortal sins must be confessed of which the penitent is conscious, for these are so related that no one of them can be remitted unless all are remitted. To Peter He says: “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. vi, vii). In Laestadian Lutheranism penitent sinners, in accordance with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, practice lay confession, "confess[ing] their transgressions to other church members, who can then absolve the penitent. This power, moreover, He transmitted to Peter and the other Apostles. Novatian and his party did not at first deny the power of the Church to absolve from sin; they affirmed that apostasy placed the sinner beyond the reach of that power—an error which was condemned by a synod at Rome in 251. ", The Lutheran Church teaches two key parts in repentance (contrition and faith). He teaches that by penance the sinner may hope for reconciliation with God and with the Church. St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) teaches: “the affliction of penance is efficacious in blotting out sins when it is enjoined by the sentence of the priest, when the burden of it is decided by him in proportion to the offense after weighing the deeds of those who confess” (In I Reg., III, v, n. 13 in P.L., LXXIX, 207); Pope Leo the Great (440-61), who is often credited with the institution of confession, refers to it as an “Apostolic rule”. The penitent then accuses himself of sins. The Catholic doctrine on this point is set forth by the Council of Trent, which condemns the proposition: “That the entire punishment is always remitted by God together with the guilt, and the satisfaction required of penitents is no other than faith whereby they believe that Christ has satisfied for them”; and further the proposition: “That the keys were given to the Church for loosing only and not for binding as well; that therefore in enjoining penance on those who confess, priests act contrary to the purpose of the keys and the institution of Christ; that it is a fiction [to say] that after the eternal punishment has been remitted in virtue of the keys, there usually remains to be paid a temporal penalty” (Can. “There is a harder and more grievous penance, the doers of which are properly called in the Church penitents; they are excluded from participation in the sacraments of the altar, lest by unworthily receiving they eat and drink judgment unto themselves” (St. Augustine, “De utilitate agendae poenit.”, ser. However, if any do incur the debt of a second repentance, his spirit is not to be forthwith cut down and undermined by despair. he blasphemeth. The Council of Lambeth (1261) declares: “Since the sacrament of confession and penance, the second plank after shipwreck, the last part of man’s sea-faring, the final refuge, is for every sinner most necessary unto salvation, we strictly forbid, under pain of excommunication, that anyone should presume to hinder the free administration of this sacrament to each who asks for it” (Wilkins, ibid., 754). contra Novat. Lanfranc (1005-89) has a treatise, “De celanda confessione”, i.e., on keeping confession secret, in which he rebukes those who give the slightest intimation of what they have heard in confession (P.L., CL, 626). 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