The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (commonly called Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession) is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church (called sacred mysteries in the Eastern Catholic Churches), in which the faithful obtain absolution for the sins committed against God and neighbour and are reconciled with the community of the Church.[a] By this sacrament Catholics believe they are freed from sins committed after baptism. The sacrament of Penance is considered the normal way to be absolved from mortal sin, by which one would otherwise possibly condemn oneself to Hell. Catholic theology regarding the forgiveness of sins debates whether Christ at the judgment of the individual after their death would allow those with unconfessed mortal sins a chance to repent and save themselves – especially those who had not made plans to confess, or were not mentally ill, coerced, or suicidal (which the Church has said all would reduce one's culpability). While persons with certain unconfessed mortal sins that were under some form of censure still at their death might not be allowed a Catholic Funeral Mass and burial rites, and while Catholics with unconfessed mortal sins may not receive Communion (unless in some circumstances, ameliorating factors were present), these matters, though related, are not the same as whether an individual with unconfessed serious sins is condemned to Hell.
As Scriptural basis for this sacrament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back" (1445; John 20:23).
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is also known as "Penance", "Reconciliation", and "Confession".
Catholics distinguish between two types of sin. Mortal sins are a "grave violation of God's law" that "turns man away from God". Someone who is aware of having committed mortal sins must repent of having done so and then confess them in order to benefit from the sacrament. Venial sins, the kind that "does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God", can be remitted by contrition and reception of other sacraments but they too, "constituting a moral disorder", "are rightly and usefully declared in confession".
Every sin involves "an unhealthy attachment to creatures", purification from which is called the temporal punishment for sin (as opposed to the eternal punishment merited by mortal sin). The satisfaction required of the penitent is not an essential part of the sacrament, because the primary effect of remission of guilt and eternal punishment is obtained without it; but it is an integral part, because it is required for obtaining the secondary effect of this purification or remission of temporal punishment.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law states: "A priest alone is the minister of the sacrament of penance." While in the English language, the term priest usually means someone received into the second of the three Holy Orders (also called the presbyterate) but not into the highest, that of bishop, the Latin text underlying this statement uses the Latin term sacerdos, which comprises both bishops and, in the common English sense, priests. To refer exclusively to priests in the more common English sense, Latin uses the word presbyter. In order to be able to be absolved validly from sin, the priest (sacerdos) must have the faculty to do so granted to him either by canon law or by the competent Church authority. (In the ordinary course, most penitents assume that the confessor purporting to exercise this faculty is entitled to do so. In an instance where that belief is legitimately misplaced, the Church supplies that jurisdiction under canon 144 "to protect the 'innocent' faithful".)
There are three major periods in the historical development of the sacrament:
There are three major phases in the early Christian practice of penance:
Practically all writings of that period, for instance The Shepherd of Hermas, Didache or Letters of St. Ignace of Antioch, show that grave sins were not rare among Christians. Cyrille Vogel collected a list of twelve major sins named in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers' writings. They are all various transgressions of the Ten Commandments:
Christians in the early communities of the Church obtained forgiveness for those sins by practising prayer, good deeds, fasting and alms-giving. This early way of penitential discipline received in modern times the name of public penance, mistakenly confused with public announcement of the excommunication because of a public and grave sin. Sometimes sinners did publicly speak about their sins, but testimonies of the early Church show that in most cases offences were known to the priest alone. When a penitent did publicly confess his/her sins, this was always at the initiative of the penitent, a free act of Christian faith for spiritual motives. The public character of early penance should be understood as prayerful participation and support given by the community to a sinner, and not as public humiliation.
Multiple discussions began in the 3rd century, a time of many persecutions, on how the Church should respond to grave sinners, e.g. lapsed Catholics, idolaters, adulterers, murderers. A controversy first resulted over Montanism, whose main supporter was Tertullian. There were arguments between Novatian and Pope Cornelius, and between St. Cyprian and Pope Stephen I.
The primary sources of information on canonical penance in this period are sermons of Augustine of Hippo and of Caesarius of Arles. Special canons were issued by regional, local Church Councils on how to deal with the public penance. Because of that this is called canonical penance.
Acts of Councils of this period show that no one who belonged to the order of penitents had access to Eucharistic communion until the bishop reconciled him with the community of the Church. Canon 29 of the Council of Epaone (517) in Gaul says, that from among penitents only apostates had to leave Sunday assembly together with catechumens, before the Eucharistic part commenced. Other penitents were present until the end but were denied communion at the table of the Lord.
A new approach to the practice of penance first became evident in the 7th century in the acts of the Council of Chalon-sur-Saône (644–655). Bishops gathered in that council were convinced that it was useful for the salvation of the faithful when the diocesan bishop prescribed penance to a sinner as many times as he or she would fall into sin (canon 8). The practice of so-called tariff penance was brought to continental Europe from the British Isles by Hiberno-Scottish and Anglo-Saxon monks. Because of its isolation the Celtic Church for centuries remained fixed with its forms of worship and penitential discipline which differed from the rest of the Church. It had no knowledge of the institution of a public penance in the community of the church which could not be repeated, and which involved canonical obligations. Celtic penitential practices consisted of confession, acceptance of satisfaction fixed by the priest, and finally in reconciliation. They date back to 6th century. Penitential books native to the islands provided precisely determined penances for all offences, small and great (an approach reminiscent of early Celtic civil and criminal law). That kind of penance is called tariff penance.
Beginnings of practising the sacrament of penance in the form of individual confession as we know it now, i.e. bringing confession of sins and reconciliation together, can be traced back to 11th century.
In 1215, the Fourth Council of the Lateran canon 21 required that every Christian who has reached the age of discretion must confess all their sins at least once a year to their own priest. Canon 21 confirmed earlier legislation and custom, but has been misattributed as the first time sacramental confession was required. The specification to a person's own parish priest was later dropped.
In 1907 the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in "condemned and proscribed" as heretical the proposition that:
The words of the Lord, "Receive the holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, no matter what the Fathers of Trent were pleased to assert.
In the early Church, publicly known sins were often confessed openly or publicly in church. However, private confession was still used for private sins. Also, penance was often done before absolution rather than after absolution. Penances, also known as satisfaction, are assigned to expiate what is called the temporal punishment that remains due to sins even when the sins are forgiven, namely "an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory". In the early Church, the assigned penances were much more arduous. For example, it would not have been unusual for someone to receive a 10-year penance for committing the sin of abortion, which the Catholic Church considers to be a grave or mortal sin. With more of an emphasis later placed on the Church's ability to expiate temporal effects of sin (by prayer, sacramentals, indulgences, and most especially by the sacrifice of the Mass), penances began to be lessened or mitigated.
During the Counter-Reformation of the 16th century, confession became less of a public declaration of loyalty to the Church and more of a private affair. Since the Council of Trent, compulsory annual confession was required only of those conscious of mortal sin. The confession has since taken place in the privacy of a confessional. It was a change in emphasis from reconciliation with the Church to reconciliation directly with God; and from emphasis on social sins of hostility to private sins, called the "secret sins of the heart". Especially in the West, the penitent may choose to confess in a specially constructed confessional, with an opaque grille separating the priest from the penitent, whose anonymity is thus preserved and physical contact is prevented. The provision of a fixed grille is required by the Code of Canon Law. The penitent may also confess face to face, and this is the tradition in some Eastern Catholic Churches.
Although spiritual direction is not necessarily connected with the sacrament, the sacrament of penance has throughout the centuries been one of its main settings, enabling the Christian to become sensitive to God's presence, deepen the personal relationship with Christ, and attend to the action of the Spirit in one's life. In the 20th century, during the Second Vatican Council, new approaches were taken in the presentation of this sacrament, taking into account the concern of scrupulosity, or the exaggerated obsessive concern for detail. This further distinguished the role of penance from forms of psychotherapy.
Also in the 20th century, Pope John Paul II began a program of fostering and renewing the focus on this sacrament. In 1984 he issued Reconciliatio et paenitentia which cited the Gospel of Mark 1:15 where Jesus said: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel." In 2002 he cited the Gospel of Matthew 1:21 in Misericordia Dei which said that Jesus was born to "save his people from their sins" and the teachings of Saint John the Baptist which called for repentance. Quoting the Epistle to the Romans 8:21, he stated that "Salvation is therefore and above all redemption from sin, which hinders friendship with God."
Catholics believe that no priest, however pious or learned, has of himself the power to forgive sins apart from God. However, through the absolution that the priest imparts God grants forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the Church. In this way, God can and does accomplish the forgiveness of sins through the Catholic priesthood in the sacrament of Penance, which is validly administered by any validly-ordained priest or bishop who has jurisdiction to absolve the penitent. A local ordinary may grant any priest, either permanently or for a limited time, the faculty to hear confessions, but is obliged to make sure by an examination or some other adequate means that the priest has the knowledge and character to do so. If the priest belongs to a religious institute, he is not to exercise this faculty without the at least presumed permission of his religious superior. The superior of a religious institute can give to any priest the faculty to hear confessions of the religious superior's subjects and of others who live day and night in the religious house or institution. Any priest, even if laicised or without faculties to hear confessions, may both licitly and validly absolve from all censures and sins anyone who is in danger of death.
Any bishop ordinarily has the authority to hear confessions worldwide, unless the local bishop where the confession takes place or the penitent's own bishop has made an objection. The Pope, as the supreme earthly Catholic judge, and all cardinals have the right to hear confessions of any Catholic anywhere in the world by virtue of canon law. A Catholic of one rite may have a confessor of another rite in communion with Rome. Major superiors, rectors of seminaries and heads of houses of formation, and heads of novitiates should not ordinarily be the ones to hear the confessions of those they supervise unless the person freely requests it of them (they may not make use of any information learned in confession when they are disciplining their charges because of the seal of confession).
The rite of the sacrament has been fairly uniform since the Council of Trent. The role of the priest is as a minister of Christ's mercy. He acts in persona Christi.
In the Roman Rite, celebration of the sacrament may begin with a greeting or blessing by the priest, who invites the penitent to have trust in God. The priest may read a short passage from the Bible that proclaims God's mercy and calls to conversion. The penitent begins by saying, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (state a time) since my last confession," or using more informal language. The mention of time is to establish whether there is a habit of serious sin that may not be repented. It may be omitted if there are no mortal sins. Mortal sins must be confessed within at most a year and always before receiving Holy Communion, while confession of venial sins also is recommended. This yearly confession is necessitated for performing one's "Easter duty," the reception of Communion at least once between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday.
The priest may offer counsel, and proposes an act of penance which the penitent accepts and then recites an act of contrition. An essential for forgiveness from serious sin is a sincere resolve to try to avoid the sin in the future. The Council of Trent (Session Fourteen, Chapter I) quoted John 20:22-23 as the primary Scriptural proof for the doctrine concerning this sacrament. The priest imparts absolution. Since the Council of Trent, the essential words of absolution have been: "I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In the renewal of the sacrament the more ample form is
"God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."[b]
Finally, the priest invites the penitent to "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good", to which the penitent responds, "His mercy endures forever." (Psalms 136:1)
The priest might then say "Go in peace," or use a longer formula like:
May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints,
whatever good you do and suffering you endure,
heal your sins,
help you to grow in holiness,
and reward you with eternal life.
Before the absolution, the penitent makes an act of contrition, a prayer declaring sorrow for sin. The older form stressed: "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you...." Renewed forms would also mention being sorry for the harm done to one's neighbor.
The Catholic Church teaches that the individual and integral confession and absolution (as opposed to collective absolution) is the only ordinary way in which a person conscious of mortal sins committed after baptism can be reconciled with God and the Church. Perfect contrition (a sorrow motivated by love of God rather than of fear of punishment) removes the guilt of mortal sin even before confession or, if there is no opportunity of confessing to a priest, without confession, but with the intention of confessing when and if the opportunity arrives.
Receiving the sacrament of penance from a priest is distinct from receiving pastoral counseling or psychotherapy (without confession of absolution) from a priest – even if that priest is one's spiritual director or a member of the pastoral team of one's parish. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church have insisted on this point in order to avoid confusion, as both confidential processes have distinct roles in church life.
The current rite of the sacrament of Reconciliation was given to the Church by Pope Paul VI on December 2, 1973. The 1973 rite presents the sacrament in three different ritual forms:
Canon 989 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states: "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." The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses this as "You shall confess your sins at least once a year," terming it the second precept of the Church and explaining that it "ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness". Anyone who has the possibility of going to confession and is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion without first receiving sacramental absolution.
What is of strict obligation is confession of mortal sins. There is never a strict obligation to confess venial sins, or to go to Confession if one has no mortal sins to confess. But the Church "strongly recommends" confession of even venial sins and encourages frequent confession. This was recommended by Pius XII and Pope John XXIII as a pious practice which the Church has introduced under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as a means of swifter daily progress along the road of virtue.
The sacrament of Penance is also known as the sacrament of peace. "The act of sin may pass and yet the guilt remains," according to Thomas Aquinas. John Hardon wrote that the sacrament "is a divinely instituted means of giving us peace of soul" and that modern popes identified benefits of frequent reception of the sacrament, for example, the penitent can increase self-knowledge, purify conscience, strengthen the will, master impulses, correct bad habits, submit to the Holy Spirit and "make more perfect the justification we first received in Baptism."
Paul VI said that frequent confession is "of great value," and John Paul II, who went to confession weekly and who stressed the universal call to holiness as a characteristic mark of Vatican II, enumerated three advantages of frequent confession: the penitent is renewed in fervor, strengthened in resolutions, and supported by divine encouragement. Because of what he considered misinformation about this sacrament, John Paul II recommended this practice and warned that those who discourage frequent reception of the sacrament "are lying." According to the study of Sal Ferigle of Church law and teachings, "whenever possible, frequent confession will ordinarily mean between once a month and once a week." The importance of a twice-daily examination of consciousness was emphasized by St. Ignatius of Loyola, patron of spiritual exercises in the Church. Ignatius called this examen the most essential spiritual practice for Jesuits.
The priest is bound under the severest penalties to maintain the "seal of confession", absolute secrecy about any sins revealed to him in confession. This strict confidentiality is known as the Seal of the Confessional. According to 983 §1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, "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." Priests, and anyone who witnesses or overhears the confession (say, an interpreter, caregiver, or aide of a person with a disability) may not reveal what they have learned during confession to anyone, even under the threat of their own death or that of others. This is unique to the Seal of the Confessional. Many other forms of confidentiality, including in most states attorney-client privilege, allow ethical breaches of the confidence to save the life of another. But a priest, or anyone else who witnesses or overhears any part of the confession, who breaks that confidentiality incurs latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication reserved to the Holy See. In a criminal matter, a priest may encourage the penitent to surrender to authorities, however, this is the extent of the leverage he wields: he cannot make this a condition of the absolution and he may not directly or indirectly disclose the matter to civil authorities himself.
There are limited cases where portions of a confession may be revealed to others, but always with the penitent's permission and always without actually revealing the penitent's identity. This is the case, for example, with unusually serious offenses, as some excommunicable offenses are reserved to the bishop or even to the Holy See, and their permission to grant absolution would first have to be obtained.
The sacramental seal can bring penalties if misuse is attempted. "With due regard for c.1388, whoever by any technical instrument records or publishes in the mass media what was said in the sacramental confession by the confessor or the penitent, real or feigned, by him/herself or another person, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication. This decree goes into effect the day of promulgation." Confession is the best known example of theology's internal forum, dealing with individual issues of conscience. A violation of the privacy of the forum is a serious matter.
Civil authorities in the United States are usually respectful of this confidentiality, but in Eugene, Oregon, in 1996, jail authorities with the approval of the local District Attorney, clandestinely recorded the sacramental confession of a jailed suspect without the knowledge of the priest or the penitent. Following official protests by then local Archbishop Francis George and the Holy See, the tape was sealed but has never been destroyed. The 9th Circuit Court ruled that the taping was in violation of the First and Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and issued an injunction against any further tapings.
A Major Penitentiary, Cardinal James Stafford, pointed out "that we are saved by faith and the sacraments of faith." According to Catholic theology, the sacrament of Penance is the only ordinary way for the forgiveness of mortal sins committed after Baptism.[c] Nevertheless, mortal sins are already forgiven by contrition (not attrition, hence also called perfect contrition), as the Church teaches. The difference between perfect contrition and attrition is that the former is grounded in charity and filial fear, while attrition (which does suffice for Confession) is grounded in fear only. A customary prayer is invoked that is equivalent to an act of contrition.[d]
Contrition by necessity includes, for Catholics, the desire for receiving the sacrament of Penance, that is the (at least implicit) will to subject one's sins to the sacrament instituted as the ordinary way of forgiveness, because one cannot on the one hand love God and desire His forgiveness, and on the other hand reject the ordinary means of the said forgiveness. At the hour of death any priest, even an excommunicated or laicized one, has power to validly and licitly hear Confessions.
There is always hope for the salvation of a deceased person for, in spite of the circumstances of their death, we can never judge that the knowledge and freedom necessary for a mortal sin were present. Also, an act of perfect contrition is always a possibility.
We read in James 5:16: "Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved." Admitting sins to a layman in case of necessity was a High Middle Ages practice which never received the sanction of the Catholic Church.[e] While theological opinions during the High Middle Ages about the practice differed, the general opinion was that those confessions must be repeated to a priest. Theological opinion developed during the Late Middle Ages against the practice and the practice was condemned in 1418 by Pope Martin V in Inter Cunctas, in 1520 by Pope Leo X in Exsurge Domine, and in 1551 by the Council of Trent.
Admitting sins to a deacon in case of necessity was a Middle Ages practice which received some sanction of the Catholic Church. The phrase "presbytero vel diacono" is found in the Decretum Gratiani and in many documents from the High Middle Ages, but by 1280 it was called an erroneous development through ignorance and it probably disappeared in the 14th or 15th century, according to Hanna. The practice was implicitly rejected in 1551 by the Council of Trent.
Later theologians, however, clarified that in the absence of a priest with faculties, there is no obligation to confess, not even at the hour of death; there is only the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition. The Council of Trent acknowledged the possibility of obtaining forgiveness of sin by perfect contrition of charity and by the desire for receiving the sacrament of Penance.
Beginning in the Middle Ages, manuals of confession emerged as a literary genre. These manuals were guidebooks on how to obtain the maximum benefits from the sacrament. There were two kinds of manuals: those addressed to the faithful, so that they could prepare a good confession, and those addressed to the priests, who had to make sure that no sins were left unmentioned and the confession was as thorough as possible. The priest had to ask questions, while being careful not to suggest sins that perhaps the faithful had not thought of and give them ideas. Manuals were written in Latin and in the vernacular.
Such manuals grew more popular as the printed word spread, and in 2011 had made a transition to electronic form as well. The first such app on the iPhone to receive a nihil obstat and imprimatur was mistakenly reported as an app for the sacrament itself; in reality the app in question was an electronic version of this long-standing tradition of material to be used in preparing oneself to make a good confession.
In general practice, after one confesses to one's spiritual father (priest - pnevmatikos), the priest covers the head of the person with his Epitrachelion (stole) and reads the prayers of repentance, asking God to forgive the transgressions of the individual.
In some Eastern Orthodox Churches, clergy take confessions in the nave, in public view but quietly (almost silently), removed from close contact with others.
Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace".
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced by Christians in the life of the Church. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations.
Some traditions see absolution as a sacrament (the Sacrament of Penance), a concept found in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, and Eastern Orthodox churches. In other traditions, notably Lutheranism, absolution is seen as an extension of the forgiveness of sins granted in the sacrament of baptism. In other traditions, including the Anglican Communion and Methodism, absolution is seen as part of the sacramental life of the church, although both traditions are theologically predicated upon the Book of Common Prayer, which counts absolution amongst the five rites described as "Commonly called Sacraments, but not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel". The concept of absolution within the life of the Church is largely rejected by protestantism of the Calvinist school.Approbation
Approbation is, in Catholic canon law, an act by which a bishop or other legitimate superior grants to an ecclesiastic the actual exercise of his ministry.
The necessity of approbation, especially for administering the Sacrament of Penance, was expressly decreed by the Council of Trent, so that, except in the case of imminent death, the absolution by a priest not approved would be invalid. This approbation for the Sacrament of Penance is the judicial declaration of the legitimate superior that a certain priest is fit to hear, and has the faculties to hear, the confession of his subjects.
By bishop is meant also his vicar general, or the diocesan administrator during the vacancy of a see, also any regular prelate having ordinary jurisdiction over a certain territory. This approbation may be given orally or in writing, and may be given indirectly, as when, for instance, priests receive power to choose in their own diocese an approved priest of another diocese for their confessor. The bishop may wrongfully but validly refuse his approbation, without which no priest may hear confessions.
A confessor's jurisdiction may be restricted to various classes of persons, e. g. to children, or to men, without the right to hear women. A special approbation is required to hear nuns or women of religious communities, and this extends with modifications to all communities of recognized sisterhoods.Contrition
In Christianity , contrition or contriteness (from the Latin contritus 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is repentance for sins one has committed. The remorseful person is said to be contrite.
A central concept in much of Christianity, contrition is regarded as the first step, through Christ, towards reconciliation with God. It consists of repentance for all one's sins, a desire for God over sin, and faith in Christ's redemption on the cross and its sufficiency for salvation (see regeneration and ordo salutis). It is widely referred to throughout the Bible, e.g. Ezekiel 33:11, Psalms 6:7ff, Psalm 51:1–12, Luke 13:5, Luke 18:9–13, and the well-known parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32).Crimen sollicitationis
Crimen sollicitationis (Latin: crime of solicitation) is the title of a 1962 document ("instruction") of the Holy Office codifying procedures to be followed in cases of priests or bishops of the Catholic Church accused of having used the sacrament of Penance to make sexual advances to penitents. It repeated, with additions, the contents of an identically named instruction issued in 1922 by the same office.The 1962 document, approved by Pope John XXIII and signed by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, Secretary of the Holy Office, was addressed to "all Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries, including those of Eastern Rite". It gave specific instructions on how to carry out the rules in the Code of Canon Law: on dealing with such cases, and directed that the same procedures be used when dealing with denunciations of homosexual, paedophile or zoophile behaviour by clerics. Dioceses were to use the instruction for their own guidance and keep it in their archives for confidential documents; they were not to publish the instruction nor produce commentaries on it.Crimen sollicitationis remained in effect until 18 May 2001, when it was replaced by new norms promulgated by the papal motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela of 30 April of the same year. Normally it would have ceased to have effect with the entry into force of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which replaced the 1917 Code on which the 1962 document was based, but it continued in use, with some necessary adaptations, while a review of it was carried out.Divine grace
Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.Examination of conscience
Examination of conscience is a review of one's past thoughts, words, actions, and omissions for the purpose of ascertaining their conformity with, or deviation from, the moral law. Among Christians, this is generally a private review; secular intellectuals have, on occasion, published autocritiques for public consumption. In the Catholic Church penitents who wish to receive the sacrament of penance are encouraged to examine their conscience using the Ten Commandments as a guide, or the Beatitudes, or the virtues and vices. A similar doctrine is taught in Lutheran churches, where penitents who wish to receive Holy Absolution are also asked to use the Ten Commandments as a guide. The process is very similar to the Islamic practice of Muhasaba, or self-reflection.
"The excellence of this practice and its fruitfulness for Christian virtue," preached Pope St. Pius X, "are clearly established by the teaching of the great masters of the spiritual life." St. Ignatius of Loyola considered the examination of conscience as the single most important spiritual exercise. In his Spiritual Exercises he presents different forms of it in the particular and general examination (24-43). Of the general examination he writes; "The first point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the favors received" (43). This point has become a highly developed part of Ignatian spirituality in modern times, and has led to many more positive practices, generally called examen of consciousness. In twice-daily "examens" one might review the ways God has been present through one to others, and to oneself through others, and how one has responded, and to proceed with one's day with gratitude, more aware of the presence of God in one's life.In general, there is a distinction between the particular examen, which aims to change one particular feature or defect in one's behavior, the examen of consciousness, which is a more nuanced reflection, and the general examination of conscience as used before the sacrament of penance.” This last method is called examination of conscience because it is a review of one’s actions from a moral point of view, reflecting upon one’s responsibility and looking at one’s sins and weaknesses in preparation for repentance, in contrast with the examen of consciousness which does not focus on morality even if sins will emerge during the review of the day.Glossary of the Catholic Church
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.Herman Heuser
Herman Joseph Heuser (1872 - 1933) was a Catholic priest, author, and educator.
He obtained the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
The Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center holds records relating to the correspondence between him and prominent figures in the Catholic Church, including Cardinal James Gibbons, and Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia, Mother Katharine Drexel, Thomas C. Middleton, O.S.A. With these are conserved letters from other noted persons: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Princess Catherine Radziwiłł, Leopold Stokowski, etc. The "lot" includes archival materials dealing with publication of the book My New Curate by the Irish author Canon Patrick Augustine Sheehan, and also has papers deriving from Heuser's work with the American Ecclesiastical Review and the Dolphin Magazine. A scrapbook entitled Commentarius de Judicio Sacramental holds both prayers and poems and newspaper clippings, all on a variety of spiritual topics. Heuser edited the 1905 edition of the German theologian, Caspar Schieler's work:Theory and practice of the confessional; a guide in the administration of the sacrament of penance.Mea culpa
Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong.
Grammatically, meā culpā is in the ablative case, with an instrumental meaning.
The phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when receiving the sacrament of Penance.
The expression is used also as an admission of having made a mistake that should have been avoided, and may be accompanied by beating the breast as in its use in a religious context.Misericordia Dei
Misericordia Dei (Mercy of God) is the title of an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II to foster and reemphasize the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The letter is subtitled "On Certain Aspects of the Sacrament of Penance" and was promulgated on 7 April 2002 in Rome, issued as Motu proprio and was signed by him.The letter begins by quoting the Gospel of Matthew 1:21 that Jesus was born to "save his people from their sins" and emphasizes the fervent and energetic summons with which John the Baptist called for repentance. Quoting the Epistle to the Romans 8:21, it states that "Salvation is therefore and above all redemption from sin, which hinders friendship with God."
The letter emphasizes that Jesus himself granted the Apostles, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the authority to reconcile repentant sinners with God and the Church and quotes the Gospel of John 20:22-23: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”.
The letter states that the Sacrament of Reconciliation entails not only the action of the minister – only a Bishop or priest, who judges and absolves, tends and heals in the name of Christ – but also the actions of the penitent: contrition, confession and satisfaction. The letter emphasizes the need for penitents to "name their own sins", except when this is not possible.
As in the year 2000 letter Novo Millennio Ineunte John Paul II again asked the clergy for "renewed pastoral courage in ensuring that the day-to-day teaching of Christian communities persuasively and effectively presents the practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation".Mortal sin
A mortal sin (Latin: peccatum mortale), in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace. This type of sin should be distinguished from a venial sin that simply leads to a weakening of a person's relationship with God. Despite its gravity, a person can repent of having committed a mortal sin. Such repentance is the primary requisite for forgiveness and absolution. Teaching on absolution from serious sins has varied somewhat throughout history. The current Catholic teaching was formalized at the 16th century Council of Trent.
According to Catholic teaching, perfect contrition (or imperfect contrition in the Sacrament of Penance), coupled with a firm resolution to sin no more, can restore a person's relationship with God, as well as God's saving grace. However, as God's mercy and forgiveness is not bound by the Sacrament of Penance, under extraordinary circumstances a mortal sin can be remitted through perfect contrition, which is a human act that arises from a person's love of God. When perfect contrition is the means by which one seeks to restore one's relationship with God, there must also be a resolution to confess all mortal sins (that have not been confessed and absolved previously) in the Sacrament of Penance. A resolution to confess these sins should be made with an act of perfect contrition, regardless of whether or not a person believes that they will have access to the Sacrament of Penance.The term "mortal sin" is thought to be derived from the New Testament of the Bible. Specifically, it has been suggested that the term comes from the 1 John 5:16–17. In this particular verse, the author of the Epistle writes "There is a sin that leads to death."National Catholic Youth Conference
The National Catholic Youth Conference, frequently referred to as NCYC, is a three-day event for Roman Catholic youth. NCYC is held in U.S. cities every two years and organized in part by the host diocese of the city. The conference is organized by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM). During the conference, there is music, prayer, workshops, liturgy, and opportunities to participate in the Sacrament of Penance, otherwise known as Reconciliation or Confession.
There are also concerts, dances, and a comedy club at NCYC. An area, known as the "thematic park", is set up with interactive educational and recreational activities, as well as traditional exhibits and vendor booths.
The nature of the NCYC conference requires large indoor facilities for a conference. The Nationwide Arena was used in conjunction with the Columbus Convention Center at the 2007 NCYC, where the 20,000 seat arena space was used for general sessions and participants walked to the convention center for breakout sessions including workshops and larger concurrent sessions. At the 2009 conference, the general session was duplicated via live video stream to the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center for overflow purposes. There were over 5,000 in overflow seating as the Sprint Center seated only 19,000. NCYC does not use club-level seats in participating arenas, lowering the optimum seating capacity, but floor seats are available on a first come, first served basis.
The 2011 NCYC was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The event's main sessions were broadcast around the world online. During the day, the participants spent the day in the Indianapolis Convention Center for small workshops and influential speakers. The city of Indianapolis has since hosted the 2013, 2015 and 2017 conferences. Christian artist Matt Maher made an appearance at the 2013 conference.Norbertine Rite
The Premonstratensian Rite or Norbertine Rite is the liturgical rite, distinct from the Roman Rite, specific to the Premonstratensian Order of the Roman Catholic ChurchPenance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a part in confession among Anglicans and Methodists, in which it is a rite, as well as among other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin paenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven (in English see contrition). Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works". Word derivations occur in many languages.Penitential
A penitential is a book or set of church rules concerning the Christian sacrament of penance, a "new manner of reconciliation with God" that was first developed by Celtic monks in Ireland in the sixth century AD. It consisted of a list of sins and the appropriate penances prescribed for them, and served as a type of manual for confessors.Peter Cantor
Peter Cantor (died 1197), also known as Peter the Chanter or by his Latin name Petrus Cantor, was a French Roman Catholic theologian.
He received his education at Rheims, and later moved on to Paris, where, in 1183, he became Chanter (hence his name) at Notre Dame. He was elected dean at Reims in 1196, but died in the following year in the Longpont Abbey, some time after 29 January 1197.
He commented on Old Testament and New Testament books. His work on the sacrament of penance is especially noteworthy. His work reflects Scholastic perspectives.Medievalist Jacques Le Goff cites Cantor when locating the "birth of purgatory" in the 12th century, based on Cantor's use of the term purgatorium as a noun in 1170.Sacraments of initiation
The sacraments of initiation (also called the “mysteries of initiation”) are the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist As such, they are distinguished from the Sacraments of healing (Anointing of the sick and Sacrament of Penance and from the Sacraments of Service (Marriage and Ordination)Seal of the Confessional in the Catholic Church
In the Catholic Church, the Seal of Confession (or Seal of the Confessional) is the absolute duty of priests not to disclose anything that they learn from penitents during the course of the Sacrament of Penance (confession). Even where the seal of confession does not strictly apply – where there is no specific serious sin confessed for the purpose of receiving absolution – priests have a serious obligation not to cause scandal by the way they speak.
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