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September 17, 2005

Ch. XXIV. Q. 135. What is the Kingly Office of the Church?

THE KINGLY Office of the Church is the maintenance of Christ's sovereignty over the elect whom the Church has brought to birth as His Bride in the waters of regeneration, by means of (a.) her power of binding and loosing: (b.) her spiritual discipline: (c.) her legislation: (d.) her precepts.1

2. The authority to forgive sins on earth has been given to men2, and lodged in the administrative hands of the Apostolic Ministry3; subject, however, to the same conditions which are required in heaven, viz., repentance, whereby we strive to forsake sin, and faith whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God.

3. To secure the conditions of forgiveness, and to protect the faithful from evil examples, the Church has authority to discipline obstinate and notorious offenders by penance and excommumcation4. Yet she cannot repel all sinners from the Holy Communion", lest she pull up the wheat with the tares5 and lest she defeat one of the chief ends of that Sacrament, the sanctification of sinners (cf. Q. 129. 5).6

4. The Church hath authority in controversies of faith, in rites and ceremonies, and in morals7. This authority is exercised in councils and by Iegislative enactments, as well as by personal discipline. Thus her Decrees of Faith, Canons, Service Books, Judgments and Precepts are binding upon the consciences of all her members.8

5. The precepts of the Church are the personal rules of life which are contained or implied in the Church's Canon law and Service Books, and which should be observed by all the faithful. Bishop Cosin sums them up as follows: (a.) to observe the Festivals and Holy days appointed: (b.) to keep the Fasting days with devotion and abstinence: (c.) to observe the ecclesiastical customs and ceremonies established: (d.) to attend the public services and offices of the Church, unless there is a just reason to the contrary: (e.) to receive the Eucharistic Sacrament with frequent devotion, and three times a year at least, of which times Easter shall be one; "and, for better preparation thereunto, as occasion is, to disburden and quiet our consciences of those sins that may grieve us, or scruples that may trouble us, to a learned and discreet Priest, and from him to receive advice, and the benefit of absolution."9 The end of these precepts is advance in holiness; and they imply, of course, the binding force of moral and civil law.10

1 Schouppe, III. 53: Blunt's Theol. Dic., "Discipline, Ecclesiastical."

2 S. Matt. IX. 5-8

3 S. Matt. XVI. 19: XVIIL 18: S. John XX. 21-23

4 Art. XXXIII: S. Matt. XVIII. 15-18: Tit. III. 10

5 S. Matt. XIII 24-30

6 Churton's Foundation of Doc., 99-102: Forbes' 39 Art. XXXIII: Palmer on the Church, Vol. I. 101-104.

7 Art. XXXIV.

8 Forbes' 39 Arts., XXXIV: Dix's Authority of the Church, Lec. II.

9 Treasury of Devotion, pp. 2, 3.

10 Cat. of N. Bulgaris p. 280.

Posted by Trevor at September 17, 2005 04:25 PM