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September 20, 2005

Ch. XXIX. Q. 152. What is Penance?

PENANCE is a Sacrament instituted for the remedy of post-baptismal sin.1

2. The remote matter of Penance consists of the sins which need a remedy. The proximate matter is repentance, which includes (a.) Contrition, or sorrow for sin as such: (b.) Confession or explicit acknowledgment of such sins and faults as can be recalled, in the hearing of the Minister who pronounces absolution: (c.) Satisfaction, or the performance of such penances as are imposed by the Minister of Absolution, and such acts of reparation and efforts to amend as the circumstances demand.2

3. It is to be noticed in connection with the matter, that (a.) Attrition, or fear of the consequences of sin, is not in itself a sufficient part of repentance, since it may exist without charity, which is essential to contrition. Yet the act of confession frequently produces contrition when it has otherwise been unattainable; and this is an argument for Auricular Confession which is implied in the language of our Prayer Book3: (b.) The satisfaction of Christ is full, perfect and sufficient for the sins of the whole world, but is subject to conditions. Those who would receive its benefits must participate voluntarily in the humiliation and passion of Christ; and the acts by which we do this have satisfactory value by reason of their mystical identification with the satisfaction of Christ.4

4. The form of Penance is an absolution pronounced by the Minister in the Name of the Trinity. In the East this form is precatory; but in the West and in the Anglican Communion it is indicative, as follows: Of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has left power to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by His authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.5

5. The Minister of Penance is a Priest, and he alone has received the power of the Son of Man on earth to forgive sins, by Apostolic transmission.6 This power is ministerial and official—not personal.7 Moreover, its possessors cannot forgive impenitent or unbelieving sinners, for God Himself does not do so. Therefore the benefits of this Sacrament, like those of other Sacraments, depend upon subjective conditions; although the efficacy of the Sacrament itself, virtus sacramenti, exists in any case, because of Christ's ordinance, ex opere operato (Q. 142. 4).8

1 S. John XIII. 4-17: S. Matt. IX. 2-8: XVI. 10: XVIII. 18: S. Mark II. 5-12: S. Luke V. 20-26: S. John XX. 22, 23: II. Cor. II. 10: S. Jas. V. 15. cf, also the Form of Ordination of Priests: the 1st Exhortation at the end of the Communion Office: and the 1st form of Absolution in the Morning and Evening Prayer. S. Thos., Sum. Th., III. 84 et seq: III sup. 1-24: Schouppe, XIV. 104-245: Moehler's Symbolism, §§32, 33: Percival's Digest, 148, 149: Carter's Doc. of Confession: Bp. Grafton, in N.Y. Church Club Lec. of 1892, pp. 233-261: Notes and Questions from Pusey, 116-129: Martene, De Ritibus, lib. I. cap. VI: Elmendorf's Elem. Moral Theol., 593-606.

2 S. Thos., III. 84. 2: 85: 90: III sup. 1-15: Percival: Forbes' 39 Arts., XVI. 238-240: Schouppe, XIV. 104, 115-230: Hooker's Ec. Pol. VI. 3, 5: Blunt's Theol. Dic., "Contrition": Nic. Bulgaris, 14-16: Notes and Questions, 48-55: Elmendorf.

3 cf. 1st Exhortation at the end of the Communion Office. Schouppe, XIV. 140-161: Blunt's Th. Dic., "Attrition": S. Thos., III. 85: III sup. 1-5.

4 S. Thos., Ill sup. 13: Pusey's 2nd Letter to Newman, 69-73.

5See Office for Visitation of the Sick, English Prayer Book. S. Thos., III. 84. 3: Percival's Digest, 148: Schouppe, XIV. 111-114.

6 S. Matt. IX. 2-8: XVI. 19: XVIII. 18: S. John XX. 22, 23.

7 II. Cor. II. 10.

8 S. Thos. III. sup. 8: 17-24: Norris' Rudiments, pp. 128-137: Schouppe, XIV. 66-103, 231-245: Percival, 149-151: Martene, lib. I. cap. VI. art. 6.

Posted by Trevor at September 20, 2005 09:05 AM