Confession and Absolution eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 44 pages of information about Confession and Absolution.

[54] While this Second Edition is passing through the press, the following statement is reported by the New York Herald, May 5th, to have been made the precious Sunday, by the new pastor of St. Ignatius’ Episcopal Church, New York:  “And of the confessional, we believe that auricular confession is a part of the preaching of God’s ministers.  I should be unfaithful to my trust if I held back from proclaiming, by my words and by my practice, that confession is necessary to salvation, and that God’s ministers have the poorer to forgive sins.”

[55] Con.  Trent, Sess. xiv, cap. 5.


So far, the doctrine concerning God’s conditions for reconciling the sinner has been limited to the interior supernatural repentance, together with absolution and confession.  The other element—­satisfaction—­which is not of the essence of contrition, but perfects it, has not been treated, simply because in another conference it is intended to deal with this question in connection with the works of penance and the doctrine of indulgences.

Before closing the question now under consideration, it is right that certain objections, urged oftentimes in good faith, sometimes in ignorance, sometimes in malice, should be duly met.

1.  It is, as was said elsewhere, by no inherent power that the Apostles and their successors are able to remit sin.  God, and God alone, can do so, though He can delegate this to others.  This He has done.  But to secure so transcendent an authority from abuse, two elements are necessary before it can be exercised.

First, from God, and through the appointed sacrament, must man be constituted a priest—­that is, an offerer of sacrifice.  This comes direct from God, and is called the power of Order, and is obtained by ordination.  This was given to the Apostles at the Last Supper, when our Lord said:  “Do this in commemoration of me.”  After His resurrection, there was given the power or capability to forgive sin, by the words “Receive ye the Holy Ghost:  whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

The second element comes also from God, but indirectly, as it reaches the individual minister through the Church.  It is the authority or commission of the Church to a priest or bishop to exercise the power of pardoning which he has received of God.  This is called jurisdiction.  It is included in the words said to Peter:  “To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever then shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."[56] Of the which, Tertullian, writing more than sixteen centuries ago, says:  “For if then thinkest heaven is still closed, remember the Lord left here the keys thereof to Peter, and through him to the Church."[57] Many a man has all the innate and acquired talent to be an excellent

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Confession and Absolution from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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