THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION

by Catholic Doors Ministry

Introductory note: All references to “C.C.C. ###” are references to Numbered Paragraph in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

INTRODUCTION

  1. This Bible Course is intended to educate Catholics on the spiritual wealth that is enjoyed through the Church Sacrament of Confession, truly a Divine gift to mankind. As will be shown, this Sacrament is a door that must be crossed over in order to achieve salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

 THE SACRAMENTS OF THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH

  1. The Holy Catholic Church enjoys seven Sacraments. They are the Sacraments of: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. These Sacraments are similar to the phases of the natural life and the phases of the spiritual life. They include being born, growth, healing and answering one’s calling to live His Christian faith in Christ. (C.C.C. # 1210)
  2. The whole liturgical life of the Catholic Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Sacraments. (C.C.C. # 1113)

THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENTS 

  1. In so great a work, the ministry of salvation, Jesus is always present in His living Church, in its services and in the administration of all of the Sacraments.
  2. When you receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, you receive the real Divine presence of the Body and Blood of Christ from His real Divine and invisible presence through the ministry of the priests. Equally, when you were baptized, it was Jesus who baptized you. When you receive the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus is truly present through the ministry of the priests, hearing your confession.
  3. When the holy Scriptures are read, it is Jesus Himself who is speaking to you. Equally, when you pray and sing in the Church, Jesus is once more there because He promised that, “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” [Mt 18:20] (C.C.C. # 1088)

THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION 

  1. Christian initiation, (introduction to the Catholic Faith,) is established by the implementation of three Sacraments. First, there is the Sacrament of Baptism that introduces the person to the new life. Secondly, there is the Sacrament of Confirmation that strengthens the new life. Thirdly, there is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that feeds the believer with the Body and Blood of Christ for his inner transformation in Christ. (C.C.C. # 1275)
  2. These three Sacraments lay the foundation of every Christian life. They permit the individual to share in the Divine nature of God that is given to all men through the grace of Christ. Receiving an increasing measure of the treasures of the Divine life, Christians advance towards the perfection of charity. (C.C.C. # 1212)

THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE SACRAMENTS 

  1. The Catholic Church maintains that for the believers to receive their salvation, they require the Sacraments. [Council of Trent, A.D. 1547]
  2. Through the “sacramental grace”, the grace of the Holy Spirit that is given by Christ in accordance with each Sacrament, the Holy Spirit heals and transforms the believers in the likeness of Jesus. By receiving the Sacraments, the faithful participate in the Divine nature of God by being united to Jesus Christ, the Saviour. (C.C.C. # 1129)

BAPTISM, THE FIRST SACRAMENT OF FORGIVENESS 

  1. Jesus united the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” [Mk. 16:15-6] Baptism is the first and most important Sacrament of forgiveness because it unites us with Christ who died for our sins and rose so we may be made just in the eyes of God that “we too might walk in newness of life.”[Rom. 6:4] (C.C.C. # 977)

 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SACRAMENTS 

  1. Keeping with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, the apostolic Traditions in accord with the beliefs of the early Church Father, the Holy Catholic Church professes that all the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord. (C.C.C. # 1114; Council of Trent, 1547 A.D.)
  2. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,” Jesus showed himself to his apostles. “He breathed on them, and said to them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”‘ (C.C.C. # 1485) [Jn 20:19, 22-23]

ATTAINING THE GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION 

  1. Jesus established the Sacrament of Confession for all the members of the Catholic Church who are sinners. Most important of all, it is for those who have lost the grace of God originally received from the Sacrament of Baptism, this damaging their perfect union with the Church. For them, the Sacrament of Confession provides the opportunity to convert and to regain the grace of justification. (C.C.C. # 1446)

 THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION 

  1. Christ placed the administration of the Sacrament of Confession in the hands of His apostles. Based on this truth, the Catholic Church Bishops who are the successors of the apostles and the priests who are united in cooperation with the Bishops, are the administrators of this ministry. As such, the Bishops and the priests have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (C.C.C. 1461)
  2. Only the priests who have received the power of forgiving sins from the authority of the Church are permitted to forgive sins in the name of Christ. (C.C.C. 1495)

THE SACRAMENTAL SEAL 

  1. What a penitent shares with a priest during the Sacrament of Confession is sacred and cannot be revealed to anyone else for any reason whatsoever. What is said during the “Sacrament” of Confession is “sealed” forever, never to be repeated. The Church proclaims that every priest who hear confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He cannot use this information to his advantage. It is a crime for a priest in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason. (C.C.C. # 1467, 2490)

OTHER NAMES FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION 

  1. What is the difference between the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Conversion, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, the Sacrament of Penance, the Sacrament of Reconciliation – are these different Sacraments? No! They are all one and the same, the Sacrament that leads to the forgiveness of sins. (C.C.C. # 1486, 1423-4)
  2. The Sacrament of Confession is called the Sacrament of Conversion because after having strayed away from the Father in sin, the individual is drawn towards conversion by the real presence of Jesus in this Holy Church Sacrament. (C.C.C. # 1423)
  3. It is the Sacrament of Penance because it meets the individual’s personal and Church requirements to convert, to repent and to do satisfaction for his sins. (C.C.C. # 1423)
  4. It is the Sacrament of Confession because it meets the requirement to confess one’s sins to a priest while acknowledging and praising the holiness of God and His mercy towards sinners. (C.C.C. # 1424)
  5. It is the Sacrament of Forgiveness because God grants the penitent pardon and peace through the sacramental absolution of the priest. (C.C.C. # 1424)
  6. It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it bestows upon the sinner the life of God who reconciles. It leads the sinner towards answering his Divine call to live by God’s merciful love through reconciliation with one’s neighbours. [Mt. 5:24; 2 Cor. 5:20] (C.C.C. # 1424)

THE HISTORY OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION 

  1. Since the early days of the Holy Catholic Church, the manner in which the Sacrament of Confession was being administered has greatly changed.
  2. In the first century, those who committed grave sins such as idolatry, murder or adultery, (ie. marital unions from non- recognized divorces) had to undergo demanding discipline that sometimes lasted for years before they could be forgiven of their sins. These penitents were rarely admitted back into the Church, in certain regions, only once in a lifetime.
  3. During the seventh century, following the Eastern monastic tradition, Irish missionaries began the practice of “private” penances which did not require public and long-term penances before the repentant believer could be reconciled with the Church. Since that time, the Sacrament of Confession has been administered in secret between the penitent and the priest.
  4. Through this practice, the forgiveness of grave and venial sins has been combined into one sacramental celebration. (C.C.C. # 1447)
  5. Although this Sacrament of Confession has undergone changes over the centuries, the two main elements remains. First of all, the person has to spiritually experience conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit, this including, contrition (regret), confession and satisfaction. Secondly, the person must be forgiven of his sins by God in the name of Jesus Christ through the bishop or his priests who decide the manner of satisfaction, pray for the sinner and do penance with him. Consequently, the sinner is healed and reunited in fellowship with the Church. (C.C.C. # 1448)

WHAT THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION DOES 

  1. When the penitent receives the Sacrament of Confession, he places himself before the merciful judgment of God to receive the judgment he would have otherwise received at the end of his earthly life. He is being judged now, in this life where he can make the free choice between eternal life and death. (C.C.C. # 1470)
  2. Through the Sacrament of Confession, the penitent overcomes the barrier that could prevent him from entering the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, being denied God’s eternal gift and glory if he has committed a grave sin. The Holy Scriptures clearly teaches that grave sins consist of sexual immorality, fornication, impurity, sorcery, greediness, idolatry, the usage of abusive language, drunkardness, robbery, enmities, strife, licentiousness, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, those who love and practice falsehood, and the likes of these things. [1 Cor 5:11; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 22:15.] (C.C.C. # 1470)
  3. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.” [Jn 5:24] (C.C.C. # 1470)
  4. The six benefits that are received through the Sacrament of Confession are:

1) Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers his state of grace;

2) Reconciliation with the Church;

3) The remission of the eternal punishment incurred through mortal sins;

4) The remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;

5) Peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;

6) An increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

  1. By approaching the Sacrament of Confession, the penitent obtains pardon from God’s mercy for the sins he has committed against God, therefore being reconciled with the Holy Catholic Church which was wounded by the shipwreck of one of its members. (C.C.C. # 1422, 1496)

RECONCILIATION WITH GOD AND THE CHURCH 

  1. The greatest effect of sin is that it is an offense against God. Sin breaks away the communion that you have with God. Consequently, it damages the communion that you have with the Church. Because of this, conversion involves both, the forgiveness of God and reconciliation with the Church which are received by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (C.C.C. # 1440)
  2. Through the Sacrament of Penance, the baptized is reconciled with God and with the Church. (C.C.C. # 980)
  3. The early Church Father called the Sacrament of Penance “a labourious kind of baptism.” As the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for those who have not yet been reborn, the Sacrament of Penance is necessary for the salvation of those who have turned to sin after having received their Sacrament of Baptism. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.]
  4. The spiritual blessing that is received from the Sacrament of Penance consist of restoring us to God’s grace and joining us to Him in an intimate friendship. Reconciliation is the ultimate purpose and effect of the Sacrament of Penance. (C.C.C. 1468)
  5. After having been reconciled with God, to receive peace and serenity of conscience with a strong spiritual consolation, the penitent must approach the Sacrament of Confession with a contrite heart and religious disposition. Then, he truly experiences a “spiritual resurrection,” being restored to the dignity and blessings that the children of God receive, the most precious being friendship with God. (C.C.C. # 1468)
  6. Through the Sacrament of Penance, the forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being by regaining the innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brothers and sisters in Christ who were offended and wounded. As a living stone of the Body of Christ, he is reconciled with the Church. And he is reconciled with the whole of creation. (C.C.C. # 1469)

THE RULES OF SPIRITUAL CONDUCT 

  1. The Catholic Church has three precepts (rules of spiritual conduct), that each believer must practice in order to maintain his living faith in Christ and in the Church.
  2. Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation in order to participate in the Eucharistic celebration with the Christian community in commemoration of the Resurrection of the Lord. (C.C.C. # 2042)
  3. Catholics are required to confess their sins at least once a year by the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ensure their preparation for the Eucharist that continues the Sacrament of Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness. (C.C.C. # 2042)
  4. Catholics are required to receive at a minimum their Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. (C.C.C. # 2042)

THE AGE OF DISCRETION 

  1. The Catholic Church commands that after having reached the age of discretion, each of the believers is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess their serious sins at least once a year. (C.C.C. 1457)
  2. Children are required to go to the Sacrament of Penance prior to receiving Holy Communion for the first time. (C.C.C. 1457)

WAYS IN WHICH SINS ARE FORGIVEN

  1. The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. From the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the early Church Fathers, it is made known that fasting, prayer and almsgiving express conversion in relationship to oneself, to God and to others. Over and above the miraculous rebirth that is experienced in Baptism or the radical purification from martyrdom, they teach that one can obtain the forgiveness of his sins through:

An effort to reconcile with one’s neighbour;

Tears of repentance;

Concern for the salvation of one’s neighbour;

The intercession of the saints; and

The practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” (C.C.C. # 1434)

  1. Other ways that revive the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and which contribute to the forgiveness of sins are:

Reading Sacred Scripture;

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours;

Praying the Our Father (included in the Holy Rosary); and

All sincere acts of worship and devotion. (C.C.C. # 1437)

  1. These spiritual acts of love and charity are not to be substituted for the Sacrament of Confession. While they may serve the purpose of obtaining forgiveness by the grace of God for venial sins, they may not serve the purpose of forgiving grave sins. Such would leave a believer short of having received forgiveness for his sins.

THE HOLY EUCHARIST 

  1. The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, which has the power to arouses in us the desire to perform acts of charity towards others, preserves us from future mortal sins. As the believer matures in Christ, it become more difficult to break away from His friendship in mortal sin.
  2. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is for those who are in full communion with the Church. It is not to be perceived as a means of obtaining the forgiveness of sins – such being proper to the Sacrament of Confession. (C.C.C. 1395)
  3. So great and holy is the moment when one receives Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that such requires prior preparation before one responds to this invitation. In the words of St. Paul, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” [1 Cor 11:27-29]

CONFESSION PRIOR TO COMMUNION 

  1. When one is conscious of having committed a grave sin, even if he experiences sincere remorse, he is obligated to receive the Sacrament of Confession and sacramental absolution prior to receiving Holy Communion. (C.C.C. # 1385, 1457)
  2. The exception to this command is that the person has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. An example would be the availability of a lay minister to administer the Sacrament of Communion while there is no availability of a priest to administer the Sacrament of Confession. (C.C.C. 1457)

INDIVIDUAL CONFESSION 

  1. The individual, complete and sincere confession and absolution is the only means through which the faithful can reconcile themselves with God and the Church. (The holy Catholic Church does not recognize as valid the promotion of private confession on the Internet.) The importance of this is based on the fact that Christ is at work in each of the Sacraments.
  2. In the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus personally says to the sinner, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” [Mk. 2:5] Jesus is the physician who attends to the individual need of the sick who are in need to be cured by Him. [Mk. 2:17] It is He who raises the sick and reunites them into fellowship with the members of the Church. (C.C.C. # 1484)

PREPARING ONESELF TO RECEIVE CONFESSION 

  1. In preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confession, one does an examination of conscience. This can be assisted by reading specific passages from the Holy Bible. Suitable readings are those that address moral issues in the Gospels and the apostolic Letters such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings. (C.C.C. # 1454) [Recommended Readings: Mt. 5-7; Rom. 12-15; 1 Cor. 12-13; Gal. 5; Eph. 4-6]

THE ESSENTIAL CONFESSION OF ALL SINS 

  1. Confession to a priest is the most important part of the Sacrament of Confession. At the Council of Trent, 1551 A.D., it was stated: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.” [Ex. 20:17; Mt. 5:28] (C.C.C. # 1456)
  2. When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the Divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the Divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.” (C.C.C. # 1456; Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

THE CONFESSING OF VENIAL SINS 

  1. Sincerely seeking to reconcile with God and the Church, after a careful examination of conscience, one must confess all the unconfessed sins he remembers to a priest. While it is not necessary in itself, the Church highly recommends that one also confesses his venial faults. (C.C.C. # 1493)

REPENTANCE, CONFESSION AND REPARATION 

  1. The Sacrament of Confession includes the following actions:
  2. Repentance.
  3. Confession (disclosure) of the sins.
  4. Receiving God’s forgiveness through the absolution of the priest.
  5. The intention to make reparation and do works of reparation. (C.C.C. # 1491)

THE STEP BY STEP STRUCTURE 

  1. Like all the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Confession is a service that has a format. It includes:
  2. The priest greets and blesses the penitent.
  3. The priest reads the Word of God to.

2.1 Enlighten the conscience,
2.2 Draw contrition, and
2.3 Exhort repentance.

  1. The penitent confesses his sins by making them known to the priest.
  2. The priest imposes a penance.
  3. The penitent accepts the penance.
  4. The priest gives his absolution.
  5. The penitent recites a prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
  6. The priest dismisses the penitent with a blessing.
  7. This sacramental service is not complete in itself until such time as the penitent has performed the penance that he has received from the priest. (C.C.C. # 1480)

INTERIOR CONVERSION OF THE HEART 

  1. Jesus calls for a conversion of the heart, an interior conversion and penance. Without this, the penance is fruitless and false. An interior conversion draws the penitent towards visible signs of sincere repentance by his gestures and works of penance. (C.C.C. # 1430)

INTERIOR REPENTANCE 

  1. In a true interior repentance, the penitent experiences a drastic transformation of his whole life. Converted, he returns to God with all his heart. He experiences an end to sin. He turns away from evil. He is disgusted with the evil actions that he has performed.
  2. During this time, the penitent desires and makes a resolution to change his life, hoping in God’s mercy and trusting in His infinite grace for assistance in time of need.
  3. In a true repentance of heart, the human spirit is afflicted. The penitent experiences deep interior pain and sadness for his sins. At the same time, he experiences inner peace and joy in his knowledge of the infinite mercy of God, praising and glorifying God for the undeserved goodness. (C.C.C. # 1431)

REPENTANCE BY THE GRACE OF GOD 

  1. Prior to the Sacrament of Baptism, man had a human heart (a worldly mind) that was heavy and hardened. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, man has received a new heart. [Ezek. 36:26-7] Conversion is first of all a work by the grace of God who draw the sinners towards Him: “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored.” [Lam. 5:21]
  2. Through the grace of God, we find the inner strength to start all over again. It is by discovering the greatness of the love of God that the new heart trembles by the horror and the weight of sin. It fears that it will offend God through sin and be separated from Him. The worldly mind is converted upon looking at Jesus who has been pierced by its sins. [Jn. 19:37; Zech. 12:10] The new heart is called to fix its eyes of the Blood of Christ that has been poured out for its salvation. It is called to perceive how important this is to the Heavenly Father who has bestowed the grace of repentance upon mankind. (C.C.C. # 1432)
  3. The grace of God is manifested through the Holy Spirit, who as the Advocate, proves the world wrong about sin, proving wrong those who do not believe in Jesus who has been sent by the Father. [Jn. 16:8-9] It is the same Spirit who brings sin to light, the Consoler, who blesses the worldly mind with the necessary grace to repent and convert. [Jn. 15:26; Acts 2:36-8; John Paul II, DeV 27- 48] (C.C.C. # 1433)

REPENTANCE 

  1. Repentance, also known as ‘contrition,’ must be spiritually inspired by motives that arise from faith. (C.C.C. # 1492)
  2. “Perfect” contrition is repentance that arises from love of charity for God. It is a love by which God is loved above all else. Such contrition remits venial sins. When such includes the firm commitment to turn to the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible, it also obtains the forgiveness of mortal sins. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1452, 1492)
  3. Repentance based on any other motives then from love of charity for God is called “imperfect” contrition. This is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God, that can be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. Imperfect contrition stirs the conscience. It opens the spiritual mind by the prompting of grace for the sinner to perceive the ugliness of sin, the fear of eternal damnation and other penalties that may befall the sinner. Imperfect contrition in itself does not obtain the forgiveness of grave sins. It disposes the sinner to obtain forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1453, 1492)

THE FORMULA OF ABSOLUTION 

  1. In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the administered formula of absolution expresses the main elements of the Sacrament of Confession, that forgiveness comes from its source, the Father of mercies. The Heavenly Father executes the reconciliation of the sinners through the Passover of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and the ministry of the Church.
  2. The formula of absolution that is recited by the priest is as follows:

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death
and the 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.
(C.C.C. # 1449)

MAKING REPARATION 

  1. The Sacrament of Confession is not complete until one has made reparation. While absolution takes away sin, it does not correct all the wrongs that sin has caused. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.]
  2. Sin injures and weakens the sinner himself, his relationship with God and his relationship with his neighbours. Many kinds of sins are wrong doing against one’s neighbour such as in cases of theft or slander. In the act of reparation, the sinner must do what is possible to correct the wrong that has been done, such as returning stolen goods or restoring the reputation of a slandered person. Simple justice requires as much.
  3. Having been raised up from sin through the Sacrament of Confession, the sinner has not been reinstated in the fullness of righteousness in the eyes of God until he had done something more to amend for the sin. The sinner is required to “make satisfaction for” or “expediate” his sins. This is also called “penance.” (C.C.C. # 1459)
  4. For this reason, after the sinner has confessed his sins, he receives a penance from the priest. The penance must be completed in order for the Sacrament of Confession to be completed in itself and for the soul of the sinner to be reinstated in the fullness of righteousness in the eyes of God.

THE PENANCE IMPOSED BY THE CONFESSOR 

  1. When the priest imposes a penance upon the sinner, while seeking the sinner’s spiritual good, he takes into consideration the personal situation of the sinner. As closely as possible, the penance must coincide with the gravity and nature of the sins that were committed.
  2. The penance received can consist of a prayer, an offering, a work of mercy, a service towards a neighbour, a self-denial, a sacrifice, and most important of all, patience in accepting the cross that one must bear. Such penances serve the purpose of transforming us in the likeness of Christ who alone expadiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.” [Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:1-2; Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1460)

COMMUNAL CELEBRATION 

  1. Preparation for the Sacrament of Confession and united thanksgiving to God for the forgiveness received can also take place in fellowship with other Catholics during a communal celebration.
  2. An example of communal celebration would be when a classroom of children going to Church for the Sacrament of Confession. The following procedures would be implemented:
  3. Preparation for the Sacrament of Confession.
  4. The reading of an appropriate Holy Bible passage.
  5. An homily.
  6. An examination of conscience conducted in common.
  7. A communal request for forgiveness.
  8. During the communal celebration, the penitent are still required to undergo a private confession on a one-to-one basis with a priest at which time he receives individual absolution. “Individual, integral confession and absolution remains the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church.” (C.C.C. # 1484)
  9. The recitation of the Our Father and a thanksgiving in common.
  10. While the communal celebration of the Sacrament of Confession expresses more clearly the nature of penance that is administered within the Church, either way, on a one-to-one basis or in communal celebration, this Sacrament is always by its very nature a liturgical action, therefore, an ecclesial and public action. (C.C.C. # 1482)

COMMUNAL CONFESSION WHEN IN DANGER OF DEATH 

  1. In exceptional cases of grave necessity, the diocesan bishop being the judge of whether or not the conditions for general absolution do apply, may permit a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution.
  2. Examples of grave necessity are:

There is approaching danger of death, such as during war time, without sufficient time for the priest(s) to hear individual confessions.

The number of penitents is so great that there are not enough priests to hear the individual confessions of each penitent in a reasonable time, this being of no fault to the penitents who would be denied sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time.

  1. For the general absolution to be valid in this case, the faithful must sincerely have the intention of confessing their sins on an individual basis in the time required.
  2. The following conditions do not constitute a grave necessity that would justify general absolution:

A large gathering of the faithful on a major feast.

A large gathering of the faithful on a pilgrimage.

The excuse that the Sunday Mass celebrant is not a resident priest of the parish when the means are available for the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Confession at another Diocesan Church which is only minutes away from the attending Church.

  1. For a general absolution to be valid, the faithful must have exhausted all means available to their disposal. If receiving the Sacrament of Confession requires contacting the Parish secretary to request for an arrangement for the penitent to meet with a priest in private, then such must be done. (C.C.C. 1483)

CLOSING SUMMARY 

  1. Through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, the convert joins the Body of Christ, having been made righteous up until the moment of his baptism. This justification only covers the original sin and the sins that were previously committed, those before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. [Rom. 3:25-6] The Sacrament of Baptism is the first instalment that the believer receives, justification through the forgiveness of the original sin and past sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit. [2 Cor. 1:22]
  2. Following this, in order to maintain one’s righteousness in the eyes of God, the faithful is called to be sanctified in Christ by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. When the believer loses his righteousness through sin, especially through mortal sins, he is called to receive the Sacrament of Confession that reinstates his righteousness before God.
  3. Finally, having received the Sacrament of Confession and being in a state of grace, the faithful now qualifies to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the living Bread of life that guarantees salvation and eternal life. For, “whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]
  4. In the Parable of the Lamp under a jar, Jesus said, “Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” [Lk. 8:18]
  5. While some affirm that they are saved because they have faith in Jesus Christ or because they are a new creation or they have been baptized and the received indwelling Holy Spirit, they forget that the gift of the new creation and the indwelling Holy Spirit were the first installment. The final installment does not come until one has persevered in his living faith, until he has maintained his righteousness through the Sacrament of Confession and he has received his salvation through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life. If one does not accept this truth, he can lose even what he thinks he has, his first installment.
  6. Again, the Holy Sacrament of Baptism opens the door of righteousness to the soul. Following this, the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation maintains the door of righteousness opened to the soul. Finally, the Holy Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist secures the salvation of the righteous soul by blessing it with eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

This ends the course “The Sacrament Of Confession In The Catholic Church.” Having been blessed with this deeper spiritual knowledge by the grace of God, we pray that you will always strive to receive this Sacrament on a regular basis. This will assure your ongoing righteousness before the eyes of God. Our ministry congratulates you for your ongoing efforts to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We encourage you to continue to do so by registering in other courses. We offer a wide selection of Catholic topics, each one being able to enrich your spiritual life. May the Holy Spirit inspire you to do what is necessary to guide you towards your sanctification.

catholicdoors.com/courses/confess.htm

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The Sacrament of Confession

Introduction:

The world you and I live in is mess! The majority of the horrible things that happen in the world since the time of Adam and Eve are caused by sin(s) which each of us commit.

Each time we sin we are causing misery to another, whether it is a small lie, or some horrible act against another person or humanity.

Each time we sin we are not a loving child of God, which God expects us to be. God made us because He loves us and He expects us to share his love for us with each other. To do otherwise is to sin, which greatly offends God and causes great damage to our souls.

By sinning we turn away from God. The more serious the sin the greater the distance we are from God. God never turns away from us, He is always waiting for us to come back to Him and He has given us the way back to Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that Jesus His Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who suffered and died for our sins gave to us that we may return to God.

When Jesus told the apostle “whose sins you shall forgive in my name they are forgiven, whose sins you shall not forgive they are not forgiven.”

Many Catholics treasure the sacrament of Reconciliation.

The peace of mind and soul which this sacrament imparts to us is one for which there is no substitute. It is a peace that flows from a certainty, rather than from an unsure hope, that our sins have been forgiven and that we are right with God.

Although many converts to the Catholic Church initially fear it, they quickly come to love the sacrament of Reconciliation once they get over their nameless fears—fears which come from a misconception of what the sacrament really is.

The sacrament of reconciliation can be referred to by some other names: Penance, Confession. Confession is part of the sacrament in that we confess/tell our sins to the priest, who represents Jesus in this sacrament, through the sacrament he receive in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Penance is another part of reconciliation in that we are given a penance by the priest to do some reparation for our sin(s).

Common Misunderstandings:

Confession is one of the least understood of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. In reconciling us to God, it is a great source of grace, and Catholics are encouraged to take advantage of it often.

What is a Sacrament?

A sacrament is an outward instituted by Christ to give grace. The grace we receive in the sacraments is a participation in the life of God. The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Sacraments.

Confession, Penance & Reconciliation:

The sacrament of Reconciliation is also known as Penance and Confession, among other names. (There is an explanation of some of these names in the Catechism’s section on the sacrament of Reconciliation).

Although often called Reconciliation in common usage, the term “penance” best describes the essential interior disposition required for this sacrament.

In fact, there is a virtue of penance. This is a supernatural virtue by which we are moved to detest our sins from a motive made known by faith, and with an accompanying purpose of offending God no more and of making satisfaction for our sins. In this sense the word “penance” is synonymous with “penitence” or “repentance.”

Before the time of Christ the virtue of penance was the only means by which people’s sins could be forgiven. Even today, for those outside the Church in good faith, not possessing the sacrament of Penance, it is the only means for forgiveness of sins.

Continuing the work of redemption

The sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament in which the priest, as the agent of God, forgives sins committed after Baptism, when the sinner is heartily sorry for them, sincerely confesses them, and is willing to make satisfaction for them.

By his death on the Cross, Jesus Christ redeemed man from sin and from the consequences of his sin, especially from the eternal death that is sin’s due.

So it is not surprising that on the very day he rose from the dead, Jesus instituted the sacrament by which men’s sins could be forgiven.

A power granted by Christ

It was on Easter Sunday evening that Jesus appeared to his Apostles, gathered together in the Upper Room, where they had eaten the Last Supper. As they gaped and shrank back in a mixture of fear and dawning hope, Jesus spoke to them reassuringly.

Let St. John (20:19-23) tell it: Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you!’ And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore rejoiced at the sight of the Lord. He therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed upon them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’

To paraphrase our Lord’s words in more modern terms, what he said was this: As God, I have the power to forgive sin. I now entrust the use of that power to you. You will be My representatives. Whatever sins you forgive, I shall forgive. Whatever sins you do not forgive, I shall not forgive.

 What is Confession?

The Sacrament of Penance, commonly called Confession, is one of the seven sacraments recognized by the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that all of the sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ himself. In the case of Confession, that institution occurred on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).

The Sacrament of Penance is another name (rarely used today) for the Sacrament of Confession. Whereas “Confession” stresses the action of the believer in the sacrament, “Penance” expresses the proper attitude with which one should approach the sacramental” with sorrow for one’s sins, a desire to atone for them, and a firm resolve not to commit them again.

The Catechism tells that reconciliation is the sacrament by which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution (forgiveness)of the priest.

Also Known As: The Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Examples: “In the past, the Sacrament of Confession was often called the Sacrament of Penance.”

The Biblical Basis of Confession

First, the more you learn about the Catholic faith, the more you will learn that Catholicism is Bible Christianity par excellence.

Confession is very clearly set forth in Scripture.  See Matt. 9:8 where the authority to forgive sins “was given to men.”  See also John 20:21-23 where the Lord, after the Resurrection, breathes on the apostles and says “whose sins you forgive are forgiven; whose sins you retain are retained.”  Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins.

See also James 5:14-16. This is a verse Protestants also ignore because it doesn’t fit anywhere in their theology.  First, in the first two verses (14-15), James is talking about the sacrament of the sick.  The priests are called and they anoint the sick person with oil and pray over him and forgive his sin (another example of man having the gift of forgiving sins).  Then, in verse 16, James says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another…”  By using “therefore,” James is connecting verses 14-15 to 16.  This means that, just as the priests are called upon to forgive sins in the sacrament of the sick, the priests are also called to forgive sins in the sacrament of confession.  No Scriptural support?  It is amazing how so many Protestants ignore these passages.  That is because they all support the 2,000 year-old Catholic teaching.

Yes, by virtue of our baptism in Christ, we are all children of God. However, Jesus Christ established one Church which He built upon Peter (Matt. 16:18), to whom He gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt.16:18-19).  Whatever the Church binds or looses on earth is bound or loosed in heaven.  When you seriously study history, and the teachings of the early Church Fathers, I believe that you will see the truth of the Catholic Church as the true Church founded by Christ.  You will also see where the Baptist faith came about (1,600 years after the Ascension).  We don’t say you are all wrong.  What we believe is that the Catholic Church gives us the FULLNESS of the truth.  Because of this, we have the fullness of the means of salvation (i.e., we have the seven sacraments Jesus gave us, not just one or two).

If there is anything else I can help you with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Necessary after Baptism

Jesus knew well that many of us would forget our brave baptismal promises and commit grave sins after our Baptism. He knew that many of us would lose the grace, the sharing-in-God’s-own-life which came to us in Baptism.

Since God’s mercy is infinite and unwearying, it seems inevitable that he would provide a second chance (and a third and a fourth and a hundredth if necessary) for those who might relapse into sin.

The Marks of the Sacrament:

Catholics also believe that the sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. In this case, the outward sign is the absolution, or forgiveness of sins, that the priest grants to the penitent (the person confessing his sins); the inward grace is the reconciliation of the penitent to God (which is why the sacrament is also sometimes called the Sacrament of Reconciliation).

A power of the priesthood

This power to forgive sin which Jesus conferred upon his Apostles was not, of course, to die with them; no more so than the power to change bread and wine into his Body and Blood, which he conferred upon his Apostles at the Last Supper.

Jesus did not come upon earth just to save a few chosen souls, or just the people who lived on earth during the lifetime of his Apostles.

Jesus came to save everybody who was willing to be saved, down to the end of time. He had you and me in mind, as well as Timothy and Titus, when he died on the Cross.

It is evident then that the power to forgive sins is a part of the power of the priesthood, to be passed on in the sacrament of Holy Orders from generation to generation.

It is the power which every priest exercises when he raises his hand over the contrite sinner and says, “I absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” These are called “the words of absolution.”

The Purpose of Confession:

If someone was baptized why do they need to be reconciled to God? This question poses some serious responses and these responses are not short. Fortunately, Jesus left the Catholic Church with an answer.

That reconciling of man to God is the purpose of Confession. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. Then, in the Sacrament of Confession, grace can be restored to our souls, and we can once again resist sin.

First, full Christian initiation has not taken place until someone receives Baptism, Confirmation and his/her first Eucharist. This is not to say that Baptism alone cannot cleanse a person, but full Christian initiation was added to demonstrate a point. Our new life received in Christian initiation does not abolish the frailty and weakness of human nature nor the inclination to sin due to Original Sin.

The baptized can work to overcome this by the grace of Christ that they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. Yes, that is correct, Christian life is a struggle, not a one time deal of receiving God spiritually and suddenly one’s life is okay. There will always be the temptation to sin and humans will always occasionally succumb to temptation.

Scripture warns us that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8). Obviously sin “stains” us or else we would not need a baptism to “wash” us. Since it has been established that we have the ability to sin after baptism or the reception of the Holy spirit and since the Bible tells us that nothing unclean can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27) then that must mean that Jesus left us a way to cleanse ourselves of sin after baptism and before death. This way is the sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance.

What Is Required?

Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily:

  1. He must be contrite—or, in other words, sorry for his sins.
  2. He must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.
  3. He must be willing to do penance and make amends for his sins.

How Often Should You Go to Confession?

While Catholics are only required to go to Confession when they are aware that they have committed a mortal sin, the Church urges the faithful to take advantage of the sacrament often. A good rule of thumb is to go once per month. (The Church strongly recommends that, in preparation for fulfilling our Easter Duty to receive communion, we go to Confession even if we are aware of venial sin only.)

The Church especially urges the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Confession frequently during Lent, to help them in their spiritual preparation for Easter.

Why Is Confession Necessary?

Non-Catholics, and even many Catholics, often ask whether they can confess their sins directly to God, and whether God can forgive them without going through a priest. On the most basic level, of course, the answer is yes, and Catholics should make frequent acts of contrition, which are prayers in which we tell God that we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness.

But the question misses the point of the Sacrament of Confession. The sacrament, by its very nature, confers graces that help us to live a Christian life, which is why the Church requires us to receive it at least once per year. Moreover, it was instituted by Christ as the proper form for the forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, we should not only be willing to receive the sacrament, but we should embrace it as a gift from a loving God.

Confession is necessary because when we sin, it is an act of the will, which creates an injustice. God wants the injustice remedied by a contrary act of the will. So when we go to confession, we are engaging our will to do something contrary to the sin, that is, confessing the sin, which restores the equity of justice. That is a Thomistic explanation for confession.

Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament so that we would humble ourselves before God by confessing our sins to His ministers, and by knowing for a certainty that we have been forgiven when we hear the words of absolution. Jesus knows what is best for us. Remember that the Council of Trent dogmatically declared that the sacraments are necessary for salvation. They don’t just “nourish” us on our “faith journey.” They are necessary because they provide sanctifying grace to the soul which is necessary for eternal beatitude.

Regarding sex before marriage, the Scriptures condemn fornication and adultery, which are sexual acts outside of the marriage context. By implication, then, the Scriptures teach that sex must be in the confines of marriage. Jesus goes all the way back to Genesis when He says that the two become one flesh – referring to the marriage covenent between Adam and Eve. It is our duty to warn souls who are living sexually immoral lives and pray for them. Our Lady revealed at Fatima that the sins of the flesh send the most people to hell. But you must do this in a charitable and loving way, not brooding it over people, but making them aware that it is an unnatural act.

How to Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Steps in Preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation: 

  1. Examine our conscience.
  2. Be really sorry for our sins
  3. Have a firm resolution of not sinning again
  4. Tell our sins to the priest
  5. Perform the penance the gives us

How to Examine our Conscience:

  1. Kneel down in the church pew and make the sign of the Cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
  2. Ask God to help us remember the ways in which we sinned and help us to confess them with true sorrow
  3. We than go through the Ten Commandments and the precepts (laws) of the Church one by one asking ourselves how we have sinned against them.

What to do when we go into the Confessional: 

  1. We kneel behind the screen or sit facing the priest.
  2. Say the Following: Bless me father for I have sinned. It is _______time since my last confession.
  3. Than tell the priest yours sins and how many times you have committed each one and the circumstances around the sin(s) If you can’t remember the number of times you have committed a sin, tell the priest you are not sure of how many times you did it.
  4. When you have finished telling the priest your sins, end with the following: “For these and all of the sins of my past life I am heartily ”
  5. The priest will give you some advice on how to not to commit these sins again, and will give you a penance to do.
  6. When he has finished you say the “Act of Contrition” while the priest gives you Absolution.
  7. ACT OF CONTRITION: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the unnecessary occasions of sin. Amen
  8. When all is finished the priest will say “go in peace”, you respond: “Thank you Father” and leave the confessional.

What to do after you Leave the Confessional

  1. Kneel in the pew and do the following:
    1. Thank God for the grace you received in the Sacrament
    2. Do the penance the priest gave you. If they are prayers do them in Church, if it is an action, do it as soon as possible after leaving the Church.

Countless benefits

It may be that at one time or another we have found the sacrament of Reconciliation a burden. Perhaps we even can remember an occasion when we said, “I wish I didn’t have to go to confession.”

But certainly in our saner moments we find Reconciliation a sacrament that we love, a sacrament we would not want to be without.

Just think of all that the sacrament of Reconciliation does for us!

First of all, if a person has cut himself off from God by a grave and deliberate act of disobedience against God (that is, by mortal sin), the sacrament of Reconciliation reunites the soul to God; sanctifying grace is restored to the soul.

At the same time, the sin itself (or sins) is forgiven. Just as darkness disappears from a room when the light is turned on, so too must sin disappear from the soul with the coming of sanctifying grace.

When received without any mortal sin on the soul, the sacrament of Reconciliation imparts to the soul an increase in sanctifying grace. This means that there is a deepening and strengthening of that divine-life-shared by which the soul is united to God.

And always, any venial sins which the penitent may have committed and for which he is truly sorry are forgiven. These are the lesser and more common sins which do not cut us off from God but still hinder, like clouds across the sun, the full flow of his grace to the soul.

What are the effects of this sacrament?

Reconciliation is the act or state of re-establishing friendship between God and a human being, or between two person. When one sins, after baptism, this sacrament is needed to restore one’s relationship with God. Also, since all Christians are connected together through the body of Christ this sacrament reconciles one with the church. Belive it or not, but when one sins not only does one destroy one’s relationship with God, but one also destroys one’s relationship with other Christians. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. This sacrament restores it. In list form the spiritual effects of this sacrament are:

  • Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
  • Reconciliation with the Church;
  • Remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
  • Remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
  • Peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
  • An increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1496)

What does one do in confession?

The penitent is the one confessing his/her sins and seeking forgiveness. There are three things that the penitent must do for reconciliation with the Lord. The penitent must make an act of contrition and that means to be fully sorry for the sin(s) committed and to firmly resolve that he/she will not sin again. The penitent must confess his/her sins to a priest. The reason for this is given in the answer to question number 2. Also, the penitent must make satisfaction for the sins.

Crime & punishment

The restoring or the increasing of sanctifying grace and the forgiving of mortal and venial sins—is there anything else that the sacrament of Reconciliation can do for us?

Yes indeed!

If it is a question of mortal sin, Reconciliation wipes out the eternal punishment which is the inevitable consequence of mortal sin. It also remits at least part of the temporal punishment due to sin.

The temporal punishment due to sin is simply the debt of satisfaction which I owe to God for my sins even after the sins themselves have been forgiven. It it a matter of “repairing the damage,” we might say.

A simply example to illustrate this would be that of an angry boy who kicks at the table leg and knocks a piece of pottery off onto the floor. “I’m sorry, Mother,” he says repentantly. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “Well,” mother says, “if you’re sorry, I won’t punish you. But get down and pick up the pieces, and I’ll expect you to buy a new dish out of your allowance.”

Mother forgives the disobedience and absolves from the punishment—but she still expects her son to make satisfaction for his rebellious outburst.

It is this satisfaction which we owe to God for having offended him that we term “the temporal punishment due to sin.” Either we pay the debt in this life by the prayers, penances, and other good works which we perform in the state of grace, or we shall have to pay the debt in purgatory. And it is this debt which the sacrament of Reconciliation at least partially reduces, in proportion to the degree of our sorrow.

The more fervent our condition is, the more is our debt of temporal satisfaction reduced.

Restoring lost merits

Still another effect of the sacrament of Reconciliation is that it restores to us the merits of our past good works if these have been lost by mortal sin.

As we know, every good work that we perform in the state of grace and with the intention of doing it out of love for God is a meritorious work. It entitles us to an increase of grace in this life and an increase of glory in heaven. Even the simplest actions—kind words spoken, thoughtful deeds performed—have this effect, not to mention prayers said, Masses offered, sacraments received.

However, mortal sin wipes out this accumulated merit, much as a man might lose his life savings by one reckless gamble.

God could with perfect justice allow our past merits to remain forever lost even when he forgives our sins. But in his infinite goodness he does not make us start all over again from scratch. The sacrament of Reconciliation not only forgives our mortal sins; it also restores to us the merits which we had so willfully cast away.

Additional graces to strengthen us

Finally, besides all its other benefits, the sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the right to whatever actual graces we may need, and as we need them, in order that we may make atonement for our past sins and may conquer our future temptations.

This is the special “sacramental grace” of Penance; it fortifies us against a relapse into sin.

It is a spiritual medicine which strengthens as well as heals. That is why a person intent upon leading a good life will make it a practice to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation often. Frequent confession is one of the best guarantees against falling into grave sin. It would be the height of stupidity to say, “I don’t need to go to confession because I haven’t committed any mortal sins.”

All these results of the sacrament of Reconciliation—restoration or increase of sanctifying grace, forgiveness of sins, remission of punishment, restoration of merit, grace to conquer temptation—all these are possible only because of the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, which the sacrament of Reconciliation applies to our souls.

Jesus on the cross already has “done our work for us”. In the sacrament of Reconciliation we simply give God a chance to share with us the infinite merits of his Son.

“Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20)

Who can administer this sacrament?

Since the power to forgive sins was given to the apostles by the risen Christ (Cf. John 20:21-23) thn the bishops of today’s Church also are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20) as successors to the apostles. The bishops and their collaborators, the priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders do not forgive sins in and of themselves, but “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as it is written in 2 Cor. 5:20: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

What is the form and matter of this sacrament?

This sacrament’s form is the words of absolution and the matter is the confession of the penitent and his/her penance which is the satisfaction made for the sins.

THE WORDS OF ABSOLUTION ARE: “God the Father of mercies, through the death and The resurrection of his Son has reconciled the World to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us For the forgiveness of sin; 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.”

What is the sacramental seal of confession?

The sacramental seal of confession is that the priest cannot reveal anything told to him, about the confessor, during the confession. There are no exceptions to this rule and the priest is “bound under severe penalties” to uphold this seal. Not even the highest court of any nation has the power top break this for God’s laws are higher than that of anyone else’s.

What is communal celebration and when does it happen?

“In case of grave necessity recourse may be had to a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution. Grave necessity of this sort can arise when there is imminent danger of death without sufficient time for the priest or priests to hear each penitent’s confession. Grave necessity can also exist when, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors to hear individual confessions properly in a reasonable time, so that the penitents through no fault of their own would be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time. In this case, for the absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their grave sins in the time required. The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist. A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1483).

Act of Contrition

O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because of your just punishments but most of all because I have offended you, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.

I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin.

Amen.

Sources:

aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/confession-in-the-bible/

scripturecatholic.com/confession.html

aboutcatholics.com/prayers/act-of-contrition/

catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/p/Why_Confession.htm

catholicism.about.com/od/thesacraments/g/Penance.htm

aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/penance-and-reconciliation-confession/

beginningcatholic.com/sacrament-of-reconciliation.html

scripturecatholic.com/confession_qa.html

See also: The Sacrament of Confession (2)

Back to: Basics of Catholicism

Monday of the 1st Week of Advent

Matt 8:5-11

The Centurion’s Servant

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES (02):

Monday of the 1st Week of Advent (Year C) – Mateo 8:5-11. Unsa man nga batasan ang angay natong huptan kon kita anaa sa taas nga hut-ong sa katilingban? Ang opisyal nga Romanhon diha sa ebanghelyo maoy atong modelo. Una, nagpakita siya og dakong pagtoo sa makaluwas nga gahum ni Cristo. Bisan tuod ubos sa iyang pagmando ang gatosan ka mga sundalo, miila siya nga may mas gamhanan pa kay kaniya, ang Ginoo. Ug ikaduha, nagpakita kining opisyal og usa ka maloloy-ong kasingkasing. Sa mga Romano niadtong higayona, ang ulipon gipakasama og bili sa usa ka mananap nga igo lamang patrabahoon ug pwedeng pasakitan o ibaligya sama sa usa ka butang. Apan, kining opisyal nagpakilooy kang Jesus alang sa kaayohan sa iyang ulipon. Kini nagpakita lamang sa iyang pagkabuotan bisan sa taas niyang kahimtang. (Abet Uy)

(English) Matthew 8: 5-11. What attitude should we have when we are in the highest levels of society? The Roman officer in the gospel is our model. First, he showed great faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ. While under his command hundreds of soldiers, he recognizes that there is more powerful than him, Lord. And second, showed the officer a compassionate heart. The Romans at that time, the slave value compared to an animal that only work and can injure or sell such a thing. However, these officials begged for the good of his servants. It was his discretion in his long position.

abetuy.blogspot.com/2012/12/monday-of-1st-week-of-advent-year-c.html

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,  Year II

Back to: Monday of the First Week of Advent

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

Introduction:

 The Holy Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments.

Baptism of course is the most necessary sacrament; without Baptism we cannot get to heaven. Yet, despite all the wonderful things that Baptism and the other five sacraments accomplish in the soul, they still are but instruments of God for the giving of grace.

But the Holy Eucharist is not merely an instrument for the giving of grace—here is the actual Giver of grace Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord truly and personally present.

Different Names:

The sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood has had many names in the course of Christian history.

Such names as Bread of Angels, Lord’s Supper, and Sacrament of the Altar are familiar to us. (The Catechism’s section on the Eucharist explains several of these common names.)

But the name which has endured from the very beginning, the name which the Church officially gives to this sacrament, is that of Holy Eucharist.

This name is taken from the Bible’s accounts of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. They tell us that at the Last Supper, Jesus “gave thanks” as He took the bread and wine into His hands. And so from the Greek word eucharistia which means “a giving of thanks” we have the name of our sacrament: the Holy Eucharist.

Blessed Sacrament because it is the most excellent of all sacraments

Sacrament of the Altar because it is consecrated and received upon the altar

Bread of life because it is the nourishment of one’s soul

Holy Viaticum when it is received during a serious illness, or at the hour of death.

Other Names of the Eucharist:

The Lord’s Supper because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

  1. Breaking of the bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him
  2. Synaxis (Eucharistic assembly), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.
  3. Memorial
  4. Holy Sacrifice
  5. Divine Liturgy
  6. Most Blessed Sacrament.
  7. Holy Communion when it is received by the faithful
  8. Holy Mass, because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.

What is the Eucharist?

Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament and a sacrifice “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word “Eucharistia” “to give thanks,” “Thanksgiving” or communion give us opportunity to continue the memory of Christ passion and unite ourselves to him.

The Eucharist is called “Holy Communion, Sacrament of the Table, The Blessed Sacrament, The Lord’s Supper or Divine Liturgy and other names.”

The Eucharist or mass is one of the three sacraments of initiation.

In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered and received.

Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper (final meal), the night (he betrayed) before he died. When our lord instituted it the apostles were present.

The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of the New law, which our Lord Jesus Christ Instituted permanently. His body and blood, soul and divinity are contained, offered and received under the appearance of  bread and wine.

In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered and received.

In the Catholic Church refers to both the celebration of the Mass, that is, the Eucharist liturgy, and the bread and wine which after the consecration are transubstantiated (changed in substance) into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, Lord and God, a declaration formulated by the Council of Trent  with an anathema against anyone who denied this.

The Holy Eucharist is the very center of catholic worship, the heart of catholic life. Because the (catholic) church believes that the Son of God is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Eucharist is the Catholic Church’s fundamental act of thanksgiving worship of God, constituting at once a Sacrifice-Sacrament, a Communion-Sacrament, and a Presence-Sacrament.

The Eucharist as Sacrifice —Sacrament: It makes present Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. It exerts Christ’s saving power for the forgiveness of sins.

The Eucharist as Communion —Sacrament: Those who share in Christ’s Body and Blood become one body with Him; A sign of unity and charity.

The Eucharist as Presence—Sacrament: Christ is present in the assembly, the priest, the Holy Scriptures and in the Eucharistic species of bread and wine.

Descriptions of the Holy Eucharist

“The Holy Eucharist is the heart and the Summit of Church’s life for in it, Christ associates His Church and all her members with His sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church” (CCC 1407).

“The Holy Eucharist is prayer because it offers a perfect worship to the Father, making present the sacrifice of His incarnate Son, on the Cross, Through the power of the Holy Spirit” (CFC 1742).

What is the meaning of the word institution?

The actual event in which Jesus gave us the Eucharist.

This event formed the mass or Eucharist.

When do we Catholics remember the institution of the mass?

Catholics remember the institution of the mass on Holy Thursday.

Historical Background

From earliest times, the Eucharist has been at the heart of the Churchs worship. In it is celebrated the memory of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)

At its celebrations of the Eucharist the Christian congregation gathers together and knows Jesus Christ to be present in its midst – according to the saying of Jesus that has been passed down: For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20). The congregation prays and hears Gods word, as it is communicated in Scripture; here also Christ, the Word of God, is present.

Biblical Foundation

Last Supper (Luke 22: 7-23)

Jesus took the bread, blessed and broke, and gave it to his disciples, “Take this all of you, and it eat. This is my body given for you; do this is memory of me.” “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Breaking Bread (Body of Christ) – Was a symbol of love and friendship. To break bread with someone was to show that you loved them like a member of your own family.

The Cup of Wine (Blood of Christ):     – To the Jews means “life”. It had much the same sense that the word “heart” has to us today. Blood which will be shed (given) for you, Serious agreement were sealed in blood. Jesus offers his blood to seal the new contract between God and us.

Do this in Memory of me: Jesus is asking his disciples to repeat this holy meal as a way of keeping him alive and to our heart to the world after his death. Whenever we gather to this, Jesus promises to be present in our midst (side).

If you are the Body of Christ and its members it is what you are that respond “Amen” this response is your signature. You hear “ Body of Christ” you respond Amen. Be a member of the Body of Christ so that your Amen may be true. (Sermo272 PL38, 1247).

New Covenant    - Jesus making a new covenant, God will love us as a parent loves a child and we will love and serve God as sons and daughters.    Covenant is a bonding agreement between two parties. This covenant may be between two equals person or a superior (Higher in Social Position) or inferior (Lower Social Position.

Jesus Appeared to his 2 disciples

Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12-13.

That same day two disciples left Jerusalem to walk to a place called Emmaus. They were very sad. They talked about the death of Jesus. Suddenly Jesus was walking beside them. Jesus walked with them but they did not know who He was. He talked with them and explained why the Christ had to die. Suddenly they realized that the stranger was Jesus Himself. Then He disappeared out of their sight.

Biblical and Historical Background

 Old Testament: Jewish Passover Meal (Exodus Great Events)

New Testament: Last Supper —It was celebrated in the context of the Jewish Passover Meal

TODAY: Holy Eucharist —it is modelled from the Last Supper

Sacrifice and sacrament:

The catechism points out that the Holy Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a sacrament.

As a sacrifice the Holy Eucharist is the Mass. The Mass is that divine action in which Jesus, through the agency of the human priest, changes the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood and continues through time the offering which He made to God on Calvary—the offering of Himself for mankind.

It is at the consecration of the Mass that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist comes into being (or is “confected” as the theologians say). It is then that Jesus becomes present under the appearance of bread and wine. As long as the appearances of bread and wine remain, Jesus remains present and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist continues to there exist.

The act by which we receive the Holy Eucharist is called Holy Communion. (See our separate article about Holy Communion’s sacramental purpose and effects.)

We might say that the Mass is the “making” of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Communion is the receiving of the Holy Eucharist. In between the two, the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist continues to exist (as in the tabernacle) whether we receive it or not.

Body and Blood of Christ:

St. John’s Gospel (chapter 6) tells us of that day in the town of Capernaum when Jesus made the almost unbelievable promise that He would give His own Flesh and Blood to be the food of our souls.

On the night before he died, Jesus at the Last Supper (and the priest at Mass) said, “This is My Body,” over the bread, and “This is My Blood,” over the wine.

We believe that the substance of the bread completely and totally ceased to exist, and that the substance of Christ’s own Body replaced the annihilated substance of the bread. We believe that the wine entirely ceased to exist as wine, and that the substance of Christ’s own Blood replaced the wine. This change is called Transubstantiation.

We also believe that Jesus, by His almighty power as God, preserved the appearances of bread and wine, in spite of the fact that their substances were gone.

Appearance and substance:

 By “the appearances” of bread and wine we mean all those outward forms and accidentals which can be perceived in any way by our bodily senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing and smelling.

The Holy Eucharist still looks like bread and wine, feels like bread and wine, tastes like bread and wine, smells like bread and wine, and if broken or splashed would sound like bread and wine. Even under a microscope or under electronic or radiological examination, it still would be only the qualities of bread and wine that we could perceive.

It is a miracle, of course; a continuing miracle wrought a hundred thousand times a day in the Mass by God’s infinite power.

This miracle requires the right material things to work through, as do all of the sacraments. The valid matter for the Eucharist is wheat bread and grape wine. This is the same matter that Jesus himself used at the Last Supper; therefore it is the matter which the priest must use to make Christ’s sacramental action present to us in the Mass.

Jesus whole & entire:

The Eucharist contains the Real Presence of Jesus: it’s the real Jesus—he is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

He is simultaneously present in every single Sacred Host on every altar throughout the world, and under the appearance of wine in every single Consecrated Chalice wherever Mass is being offered. Moreover Jesus is present, whole and entire, in every part of every Sacred Host, and in every drop contained in the Consecrated Chalice.

This is why such care is taken at Mass in handling not only the consecrated Body and Blood, but also the empty chalice, the sacred linens used at the altar, and anything else that comes in contact with the consecrated Eucharistic species.

The Eucharist requires the priesthood:

At the Last Supper Jesus changed bread and wine into his own Body and Blood.

At the same time He commanded His apostles to repeat this same sacred action in time to come. “Do this in remembrance of Me,” was the solemn charge which Jesus gave to the Apostles.

Obviously Jesus does not command the impossible; consequently with this command went also the necessary power, the power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood. With the words, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” Jesus made His Apostles priests.

A separate article will discuss the Mass as a sacrifice. Here we merely wish to indicate that it is at Mass that the change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ takes place.

It takes place when the priest, making himself the free and willing instrument in the hands of Christ, pronounces over the bread and wine Christ’s own words, “This is My Body,” and “This is the Chalice of My Blood.” Standing at the altar as the visible representative of Jesus and pronouncing Jesus’ own words, the human priest “triggers” as it were the infinite power of Jesus, Who at that instant becomes present under the appearances of the bread and wine.

It is in these words—”the words of Consecration” as they are called—that the essence of the Mass resides.

Stripped of all other prayers and ceremonies (except the priest’s communion which completes the Mass) these words of Consecration are the Mass.

The Real Presence remains:

The belief in the “Real presence” is the main Catholic belief about Communion. The real presence refers to  the  miracle of Christ’s presence under the species of bread and wine. The bread and the wine becomes the body and blood of Christ in a real way.

Once the bread and wine have been changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, our Savior remains present as long as the appearances of bread and wine remain intact.

When, after Holy Communion, our digestive processes have destroyed the appearance of bread within us, Jesus no longer is bodily present; only His grace remains.

In other words Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist, not just during Mass, but as long as the Sacred Hosts consecrated at Mass continue to retain the appearance of bread. This means that we owe to the Holy Eucharist the adoration which is due to God, since the Holy Eucharist contains the Son of God Himself.

We adore the Holy Eucharist with the type of worship which may be given only to God.

Every Catholic church has a tabernacle upon the altar. The tabernacle (from the Latin word tabernaculum, meaning “tent”) is a cupboard-like safe. It is marked by a burning light called the tabernacle lamp. Following an ancient tradition, it is often covered with a veil as an indication of the holiness of the place.

Inside the tabernacle Jesus Christ is present—really and substantially present in the Eucharist.

Christ’s presence truly makes our churches the “house of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15). That is why we maintain a respectful silence while in the church building: to show our respect and reverence of Christ himself.

The presence of Jesus in the tabernacle also makes the tabernacle an excellent place of private prayer. Even spending just a few minutes sitting quietly in church, contemplating the presence of Christ in the tabernacle or reading from the Gospels, is a commendable practice that greatly aids in spiritual growth.

Holy Communion: Our Life in Christ:

The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the third of the Sacraments of Initiation. Even though we are required to receive Communion at least once per year (our Easter Duty), and the Church urges us to receive Communion frequently (even daily, if possible), it is called a sacrament of initiation because, like Baptism and Confirmation, it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.

We called the Eucharist Holy Communion because we become members of the one body of Christ when we eat of the one bread and wine. In the Eucharist we all become one in Christ.

In Holy Communion, we are eating the True Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, without which “you shall not have life in you” (John 6:53).

Preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Communion:

Because of the intimate connection of the Sacrament of Holy Communion to our life in Christ, we must be free of any grave or mortal sin before receiving it, as St. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29. Otherwise, as he warns, we receive the sacrament unworthily, and we “eateth and drinketh damnation” to ourselves.

If we are aware of having committed a mortal sin, we must participate in the Sacrament of Confession first. The Church sees the two sacraments as connected, and urges us, when we can, to join frequent Confession with frequent Communion.

Making a Spiritual Communion:

If we cannot receive Holy Communion physically, either because we cannot make it to Mass or because we need to go to Confession first, we can pray an Act of Spiritual Communion, in which we express our desire to be united with Christ and ask Him to come into our soul. A spiritual communion is not sacramental, but prayed devoutly, it can be a source of grace that can strengthen us until we can receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion once again.

The Effects of the Sacrament of Holy Communion:

Receiving Holy Communion worthily brings us graces that affect us both spiritually and physically. Spiritually, our souls become more united to Christ, both through the graces we receive and through the change in our actions that those graces effect. Frequent Communion increases our love for God and for our neighbor, which expresses itself in action, which makes us more like Christ.

Physically, frequent Communion relieves us of our passions. Priests and other spiritual directors who counsel those who are struggling with passions, especially sexual sins, often urge frequent reception not only of the Sacrament of Confession but of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. By receiving Christ’s Body and Blood, our own bodies are sanctified, and we grow in our likeness to Christ. In fact, as Fr. John Hardon points out in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, the Church teaches that “A final effect of Communion is to remove the personal guilt of venial sins, and the temporal [earthly and purgatorial] punishment due to forgiven sins, whether venial or mortal.”

In other words, the effects of Holy Communion and Christ’s Real Presence are:

  1. We become one (unite) with Christ
  2. We become one with other Christians
  3. Building up of the Christian community
  4. Takes away social or racial differences
  5. To reconcile and be reconciled to and with the Church
  6. Forgiveness for venial sins
  7. Spiritual strength to fight sin
  8. Strength to overcome the pain and burden of every day life
  9. Grace (Holiness)
  10. Power to love and to live like Christ
  11. The promise of eternal life.

The value of Holy Eucharist 

  • If we can understand a Christian to be someone who part of the Body of Christ, then we can see that if takes a life time to become Christian. It take life time our actions to be in unity with Christ.
  • The Eucharist is a blessing. The Father blesses us by giving us life.
  • We return thanks and Adoration to God the father for all that he has done.
  • When we recognize (aware) we are one Body of Christ, we will care for each other and the world will see what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

 Another Basic Catechism of the Holy Mass

The word “Mass” comes Latin word “Missa” meaning “Sending forth of the Faithful.”  or for dismissal. The purpose of the  Eucharist is to dismiss us, to send us out to be Christ for the world.

The Eucharistic Celebration is a Gathering: This is for the purpose of bringing us together into the united body, ready to participate by giving of ourselves, by breaking bread together.

The Celebrated of the Eucharist begins as Christians come together in one place. Opening Greeting the greeting reminds we us why we are gathered to worship.

The Mass is made up of two parts, the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word usually ends with the homily, after the Gospel has been proclaimed. The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the Creed, or the Prayers of the Faithful.

The Liturgy of the Word: Begins with Readings from the Scripture or the Bible. On Sundays and solemn days, three Scripture readings are given. The first reading is from the Old Testament followed by a Responsorial Psalm. The second reading is from the New Testament usually from the writings of St. Paul. The Alleluia is then said or usually sang before the Proclamation of the Holy Gospel. All these readings reveal the riches of God’s Word. Through these, God speaks to His people, opens up the meaning of salvation and nourishes their spirit.

The Homily that follows the Gospel reading is an integral part of the liturgy and is strongly recommended. Here the priest explains the readings and shares his insights.

Profession Of Faith: The people recite the “I Believe” which serves as a way for the people to affirm their faith in the Word of God heard in the readings and through the homily and for them to call to mind the truths of their faith before they begin to celebrate the Eucharist.

General Intercessions or Prayer of the Faithful: Here, the people intercede for all humanity. It is appropriate that this prayer be included in all Masses so that petition will be offered for the Church, for civil authorities, for those oppressed by different needs and for all people.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist: At the last supper, Christ instituted the sacrifice and paschal meal that make the sacrifice of the cross to be continuously present in the church. The church then has planned the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy around the parts corresponding to these words and actions of Christ:

Preparation Of The Gifts (usually referred to as the Offertory: At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ’s body and blood, are brought to the altar. First the altar or the Lord’s table, which is the center of the whole Eucharistic Liturgy, is prepared: the corporal, purificator, missal, chalice, altar candle, altar cross, and ciborium are placed on it.

This is also the time to receive money or other gifts for the church or the poor brought by the faithful or collected at the Mass. These are to be put in a suitable place but not on the altar.

The priest  then washes his hands as an expression of his desire to be cleansed within over the gifts, which are a preparation for the Eucharistic Prayer.

Eucharistic Prayer: Now the center and summit of the entire celebration begins: the Eucharistic prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. As the priest consecrates the bread and wine, they become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The priest invites the people for the acclamation of our Faith and then to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanks.

Communion Rite: It is right that the faithful who are properly disposed receive the Lord’s body and blood as spiritual food as He commanded. This is the purpose of the breaking of bread and the other preparatory rites that lead directly to the communion of the people:

The Lord’s Prayer: Recited or usually sang by all including the priest, this is a petition both for daily food, which for Christians means also the eucharistic bread, and for the forgiveness of sins.

Sign of Peace: Before they share in the same bread, the faithful implore peace and unity for the Church and for the whole human family and offer some sign of their love for one another.

Breaking of the Bread: In Apostolic times this gesture of Christ at the last supper gave the entire eucharistic action its name.

The Personal Preparation of the Priest: Priest prepares himself by the prayer, said softly, that he may receive Christ’s body and blood to good effect. The faithful do the same by silent prayer.

The priest then shows the Eucharistic bread for communion.

Communion of the faithful or the actual reception of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Those who received are expected to remain in silence and meditate the value of receiving Christ in this Sacrament.

It is the Church doctrine that the Holy Communion is morally necessary for our salvation.

Prayer after Communion: After the silence or song following Communion or after the purification of the vessels, the priest then invites the faithful to pray, which closes the Communion rite.

Concluding Rite:

Announcements: This brings to attention certain announcements from the parish.

Final Blessing: For the last time the priest and the people exchange greetings and then he blesses them.

Dismissal: The Mass ends with the solemn blessing of the congregation.

Who presides in the Eucharist?

The main presider of every Eucharist is the Bishop. In the absence of the bishop, the priests of the diocese.

How is the mass divided?

The mass or Eucharist is divided in two parts:

  1. Liturgy of the word.
  2. Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Elements of the Liturgy of the Word:

  1. Gathering rites
  2. The readings
  3. The Homily
  4. The intercessions
  5. Nicene Creed

Elements of the Liturgy of the Eucharist:

1. The bread

  1. The wine
  2. Offertory (bringing the gifts to the altar)
  3. Collection
  4. Eucharistic prayer
  5. Consecration
  6. The Lord’s prayer
  7. The sign of peace
  8. Lamb of God
  9. Breaking of the bread.
  10. Communion
  11. Announcements
  12. Final prayer and blessing.

Matter

Bread and Wine

 Form

 “Take this all of you and eat it; This is my body which will be given up for you. Take this, all of you and drink from it; This is the cup of  my blood the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins maybe forgiven. Do this in memory of me.”

 Rituals in the Holy Eucharist

Bowing of Head: When the resurrection hymn (Lord of all we praise you) is sung the faithful bows their head along with the celebrant. It is the expression of our profound respect and submission to Lord God almighty.

Incensing: Two purposes – 1) Sanctifying us (the celebrant, the people, the altar and the objects) with the blessed incense, the divine fragrance, the symbol of divine presence. It is the sign of forgiveness of sins and total surrender to God. 2) Just as the smoke of incense goes up to heaven, our praises and worship are raised to heaven. It is an exhortation that our hearts, mind and thoughts should raise up to heaven along with the incensing.

Washing of Hands: The celebrant washes his hands with a prayer before the offertory. This signifies that God in his abundant mercy cleanses the celebrant and the community and make purify their hearts. It reminds us also the washing of feet by Jesus during the last supper.

Preparation of host and wine, the offertory gifts: Host represents the body of Christ and wine represents the blood of Christ. Adding water into wine is the symbol of the blood and water that was poured out of the side of Jesus, when he was pierced with a lance on the Cross.

Offertory prayer with hands crossed: The celebrant takes chalice with wine in right hand and paten with host in the left and raises with hands in the form of cross. This symbolizes the death of Jesus on the cross. It reminds us of the self sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in Calvary.

Kissing the altar: After the offertory, approaching the altar the celebrant bows three times and then kisses the altar in the middle and on both sides. This to show respect and veneration to the most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Exchange of peace: The celebrant offers peace of Christ to the faithful raising his hands and with the sign of cross. And the faithful receives this offer of peace with bowed head. Following this the faithful offer one another the peace of Christ that was received through the celebrant.

Consecration Words: This is one of the most important part of the Holy Eucharist. It is the commemoration of what Jesus did during the last supper as he was instituting Holy Eucharist for us. As we join in the Consecration, we experience the same incident as Jesus and his disciples experienced during last supper. Holy Eucharist is the reenactment of that first sacrifice of Jesus as he had commanded us to do in his memory.

Ringing of Bell: Bell is to bring to the mind of the people the importance of the rituals in the Eucharist. It evokes in our minds a spirit of devotion and worship.

Epiclesis (Prayer of inviting the Holy Spirit): This is another most important part of the Holy Eucharist. The celebrant prays to the Almighty Father to send his Holy Spirit on the gifts and sanctify them, by which the bread and wine on the altar becomes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.

Elevation of the Bread: The holy bread that has become the living body and blood of Christ through Consecration words and sanctification by the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis) is raised to signify the resurrection and apparitions of Jesus. When Jesus was appeared to his disciples after resurrection, the disciples worshipped him saying “My God and My Lord”. In the same way, the faithful worship the risen Lord at this time.

Breaking of the Bread: After the elevation of the holy bread, the celebrant breaks the bread into two and blesses the wine with one half of the bread. Then he blesses the part of the bread with the other half that was dipped in wine. Then hold the host together and prays for various intentions. This reminds the body of Christ broken by death and rejoined in resurrection.

Receiving Communion: This is the ritual of receiving the blessed and sanctified body and blood of Christ just as Jesus gave bread and wine to his disciples during last supper as his body and blood. As we receive Holy Communion from the minister, we receive it from the hands of Jesus himself.

Final Blessing: Eucharist concludes with a blessing just as Jesus blessed his disciples before he ascended into heaven after having entrusted his mission to the disciples. Having received the body and blood of Jesus and his blessing, we go to continue the mission and sacrifice of Jesus in our lives.

Vestments

Alb – is a long white robe which symbolizes purity of heart

Cape – is a cloak-like robe used at benediction, procession, etc

Chasuble- is the real sacerdotal dress which symbolizes the royal virtue of charity

Cincture – is a cord with which t he alb  is bound around the waist, symbolizing purity

Humeral veil – is vestment placed over the cape of a priest during benediction, procession, etc.

Linens

Burseserves as the keeper of corporal

Corporalis a line placed over the altar where the chalice and paten are placed

Purificatoris a linen placed over the chalice which is used to clean the chalice before and after putting the wine

Vessels

 Chalice – is the vessel for precious blood of Christ

Ciborium – is a vessel which contains the sacred hosts for Holy Communion

Cruets  – are containers of wine and water

Monstrance is a richly decorated vessel

Pyxis a vessel where the small hosts are kept to e carried to sick persons

Paten – is a small round plate placed over the chalice which holds the big Host

Reliquary is a richly decorated vessel where the sacred remains or material things connected with a particular saint are exposed for veneration

Tabernacle is a richly decorated shrine where the sacred hosts are preserved for Holy Communion

Prayer for Holy Mass:

Eternal Father, permit me to offer to Thee the Heart of Jesus Christ, Thy well beloved Son, as He offers Himself to Thee Sacrifice. Graciously receive this offering on my behalf and receive all the desires, sentiments and affections, all the movements and acts of this Sacred Heart. They are all mine, since he immolates himself for me, and since I intend to have no other desires henceforth but His. Receive them in satisfaction for my sins and in thanksgiving for all his benefits. Graciously receive them, all the merits of the graces of which I stand in need, especially the grace of final perseverance. Receive them as so many acts of love, adoration and praise which I offer to Thy Divine Majesty, since it is by Thy Divine Son alone that Thou art worthily honored and glorified. Amen.

Sources:

  • Our Sacramental Life by Patrical Moonson Dridger
  • Sacraments: A Way of Life by Joyce Solemini
  • Sacraments Rules of Passage by William J. O’Malley
  • org/wiki/Eucharist
  • org/wiki/Holy_Mass
  • com/images/search?q=the+eucharistic+celebration+%28or+the+holy+mass%29&FORM=BIFD
  • com/images/search?q=holy+eucharist&go=&form=QBIR&qs=n
  • com/images/search?q=bread+and+wine&go=&form=QBIR&qs=n
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  • com/eucharist.html
  • about.com/od/beliefsteachings/p/Sac_Communion.htm

Back to: Basics of Catholicism

The Sacrament of Confirmation

Introduction:

There is a close relationship between the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

While Confirmation is a distinct and complete sacrament in its own right, its purpose is to perfect in us that which was begun in Baptism. We might say—in a sense—that we are baptized in order to be confirmed.

The Roots of Confirmation:

We do not know exactly when, during His public life, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Confirmation. This is one of the “many other things that Jesus did” which, as St. John tells us, are not written down in the Gospels (see John 21:25).

We know that Catholic Tradition (the teachings of the Church which have been handed down to us from our Lord, or from His Apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit) is of equal authority with Sacred Scripture as a source of divine truth. If a “Bible-only” friend thrusts out his jaw and says, “Show it to me in the Bible; I don’t believe it unless it’s in the Bible,” we do not fall into that trap. We answer sweetly by saying: “Show me in the Bible where it says that we must believe only what is written there.”

However, it does happen that the Bible tells us about Confirmation. Not under that name, of course. Aside from Baptism, our present names for the sacraments were developed by the early theologians of the Church; “Laying on of hands” was the earliest name for Confirmation. This is the name which the Bible uses in the following passage taken from the Acts of the Apostles:

“Now when the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. On their arrival they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet He had not come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. But when Simon [the magician] saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit’.” (Acts 8:14-19)

It is from this passage, and the attempt of the magician Simon to buy the power to give Confirmation, that we get the word “simony”—the name given to the sin of buying and selling sacred things. That, however, is a very minor point.

The real significance of this passage lies in what it tells us about the sacrament of Confirmation. It tells us that while Confirmation is a complement to Baptism, a completing of what was begun in Baptism, nevertheless Confirmation is a sacrament distinct from Baptism.

  • The Samaritans already had been baptized, yet it still was necessary for them to receive the “laying on of hands.”
  • The passage also tells us the way in which Confirmation was to be given: by the placing of the hand of the one who confirms, upon the head of the one to be confirmed, with a prayer that he may receive the Holy Spirit.

We are particularly interested in this fact which the passage makes plain: the fact that it was the Apostles—that is, the bishops—who did the confirming. Whoever it was who had baptized the Samaritans very evidently did not have the power to “lay hands” upon them and to impart to them the Holy Spirit. Two of the Apostles, Peter and John, had to travel from Jerusalem to Samaria in order to give the sacrament of Confirmation to these new Christians.

The bishop was the original minister of Confirmation. Ordinarily, the bishop still administers this sacrament so that there is a clear link to the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However bishops can also permit priests to administer this sacrament, and in practice this is often done.

Confirmation is the Perfection of Baptism:

Although, in the West, Confirmation is usually received as a teenager, several years after making First Communion, the Catholic Church considers it the second of the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism being the first and Communion the third). Confirmation is regarded as the perfection of Baptism, because, as the introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states:

by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

Definition:

Growth is vital to human life; the body and mind must grow to stay alive. Catholics believe that the soul also needs to grow to maturity in the life of grace, just as the human body must grow through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Catholics believe the Sacrament of Confirmation is the supernatural equivalent of the growth process on the natural level. It builds on what was begun in Baptism and what was nourished in Holy Eucharist. It completes the process of initiation into the Christian community, and it matures the soul for the work ahead.

The Byzantine Church confirms (chrismates) at Baptism and gives Holy Eucharist as well, thus initiating the new Christian all at the same time.

So what occurs during a Catholic Confirmation? The Holy Spirit is first introduced to a Catholic the day that she’s baptized, because the entire Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are invoked at the ceremony. During Confirmation, God the Holy Spirit comes upon the person, accompanied by God the Father and God the Son, just as he did at Pentecost.

The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven to earth upon the 12 apostles and the Virgin Mary, occurring 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension (Acts 2:1–4).

This sacrament is called Confirmation because the faith given in Baptism is now confirmed and made strong. Sometimes, those who benefit from Confirmation are referred to as soldiers of Christ. This isn’t a military designation but a spiritual duty to fight the war between good and evil, light and darkness — a war between the human race and all the powers of hell.

Confirmation means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny. Childhood is a time when you’re told what to do, and you react positively to reward and negatively to punishment. Adulthood, even young adulthood, means that you must do what’s right on your own, not for the recognition or reward but merely because it’s the right thing to do. The focus is on the Holy Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) and gave them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and gives them the same gifts and fruits.

Fruits of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

Traditionally, the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity. These are human qualities that can be activated by the Holy Spirit. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are supernatural graces given to the soul.

Matter (or Symbol) of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

The ceremony may take place at Mass or outside of Mass, and the bishop wears red vestments to symbolize the red tongues of fire seen hovering over the heads of the apostles at Pentecost. The following occurs during the Sacrament of Confirmation:

Each individual to be confirmed comes forward with his sponsor. At Baptism, Junior’s mom and dad picked his godfather and godmother; for Confirmation, he picks his own sponsor. The same canonical requirements for being a godparent in Baptism apply for sponsors at Confirmation. The sponsor can be the godmother or godfather if they’re still practicing Catholics, or he may choose someone else (other than his parents) who’s over the age of 16, already confirmed, and in good standing with the Church. One sponsor is chosen for Confirmation. (Most people have two sponsors, one godparent of each gender, for Baptism).

Each Catholic selects his own Confirmation name. At Baptism, the name was chosen without the child’s consent because the child was too little to make the selection alone. Now, in Confirmation, another name — in addition to the first and middle names — can be added, or the original baptismal name may be used. It must be a Christian name, though, such as one of the canonized saints of the Church or a hero from the Bible. You wouldn’t want to pick a name like Cain, Judas, or Herod, for example, and no secular names would be appropriate.

The Catholic being confirmed stands or kneels before the bishop, and the sponsor lays one hand on the shoulder of the one being confirmed. The Confirmation name is spoken, and the bishop puts Chrism Oil on the person’s forehead, says his name aloud, and then says, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The person responds, “Amen.” The bishop then says, “Peace be with you.” And the person responds, “And with your spirit” or “And also with you.”

The Form of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

Many people think of the laying on of hands, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit, as the central act in the Sacrament of Confirmation. The essential element, however, is the anointing of the confirmand (the person being confirmed) with chrism (an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by a bishop), accompanied by the words “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit” (or, in the Eastern Catholic Churches, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”). This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred on the Christian at Baptism.

The Minister of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

 As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, “The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop.” Each bishop is a successor to the apostles, upon whom the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost—the first Confirmation. The Acts of the Apostles mentions the apostles imparting the Holy Spirit to believers by the laying on of hands (see, for example, Acts 8:15-17 and 19:6).

The Church has always stressed this connection of confirmation, through the bishop, to the ministry of the apostles, but She has developed two different ways of doing so.

Normally, only the bishop confirms the Catholics in his diocese. However, priests can be delegated to confirm adult converts from other religions when they’re brought into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil and they’ve attended the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program in the parish. Non-Catholics who are interested in the Catholic faith and converting to Catholicism attend RCIA classes.

Confirmation in the East:

 In the Eastern Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) Churches, the three sacraments of initiation are administered at the same time to infants. Children are baptized, confirmed (or “chrismated”), and receive Communion (in the form of the Sacred Blood, the consecrated wine), all in the same ceremony, and always in that order.

Since the timely reception of Baptism is very important, and it would be very hard for a bishop to administer every baptism, the bishop’s presence, in the Eastern Churches, is signified by the use of chrism consecrated by the bishop. The priest, however, performs the confirmation.

Confirmation in the West:

The Church in the West came up with a different solution—the separation in time of the Sacrament of Confirmation from the Sacrament of Baptism. This allowed infants to be baptized soon after birth, while the bishop could confirm many Christians at the same time, even years after baptism. Eventually, the current custom of performing Confirmation several years after First Communion developed, but the Church continues to the stress the original order of the sacraments, and Pope Benedict XVI, in his apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, has suggested that the original order should be restored.

Many Latin (Western) Catholics are baptized as infants, receive First Communion as children, and are confirmed as adolescents, but the Sacraments of Initiation are for any age. Adult converts who’ve never been baptized are baptized when they become Catholic; they’re confirmed and receive their First Communion at the same Mass when they’re baptized, or if they were baptized in a Protestant Church, they make a Profession of Faith, are confirmed, and receive Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil Mass — the night before Easter.

Eligibility for Confirmation:

Even in the West, priests can be authorized by their bishops to perform confirmations, and adult converts are routinely baptized and confirmed by priests. All those who have been baptized are eligible to be confirmed, and, while the Western Church suggests receiving the sacrament after reaching the “age of reason” (around seven years old), it can be received at any time. (A child in danger of death should receive Confirmation).

A confirmand must be in a state of grace. If the sacrament is not received immediately after Baptism, the confirmand should participate in the Sacrament of Confession before Confirmation.

The Effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation:

 The Sacrament of Confirmation confers special graces of the Holy Spirit upon the person being confirmed, just as such graces were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. Like Baptism, therefore, it can only be performed once, and Confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at Baptism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:

  • it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation [as sons of God] which makes us cry, “Abba! Father!”
  • it unites us more firmly to Christ
  • it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us
  • it renders our bond with the Church more perfect
  • it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.

Because Confirmation perfects our baptism, we are obliged to receive it “in due time.” Any Catholic who did not receive Confirmation at baptism or as part of his religious education during grade school or high school should contact a priest and arrange to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Sources:

  • about.com/od/beliefsteachings/p/Confirmation.htm
  • dummies.com/how-to/content/what-is-confirmation-in-the-catholic-church.html

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BAPTISM

Introduction:

  • The Catholic Church has seven Sacraments. (C.C.C. # 1113) Of the seven Sacraments of the Church, three of them are Sacraments of initiation to introduce a new convert into the Catholic Church. These are the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. (C.C.C. # 1212)
  • The Sacrament of Baptism gives birth to the Christian’s life of faith. (C.C.C. # 1210) The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens him. In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the faithful receives food for eternal life. (C.C.C. # 1212)

The Baptism of Jesus:

  • When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, a beautiful thing happened. God showed to everyone who were present that ‘Jesus’ was ‘the One Who is anointed by God’. That means that Jesus was God the Father’s Chosen One, the One Who God had promised to send to save the people He loved. When Jesus was anointed, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and the power of God. This anointing proved that Jesus was God! [Mt. 3:16-7; Mk. 1:24; Jn. 6:69; Acts 3:14] (C.C.C. # 438)
  • The public life of Jesus began with His Baptism on the shore of the Jordan River. It ended with Jesus commanding the Apostles to “go and make disciples of all, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them.” [Mt. 28:19-20] (C.C.C. # 1223) These Words of Jesus from the Holy Bible teach the Christians the great importance of the Sacrament of Baptism.

Etymology:

  • The word ‘Baptism‘ comes from a Greek word bapto, or baptizo that means to ‘plunge‘ or ‘immerse‘. To ‘plunge‘ someone in water represents the person dying, being buried and resurrecting with Christ as a ‘new creature.’ (C.C.C. # 1214) Some call this Sacrament ‘the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit‘ because Baptism results in a new birth of water and the Spirit. Without it, no one can enter the Kingdom of God. [Jn. 3:5] (C.C.C. # 1215)
  • This ‘bath‘ is called ‘enlightenment‘. That is because those who are preparing to receive this Church Sacrament will receive spiritual teachings from the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Enlightened by Jesus Who is the Light of the world [Jn. 1:9], the new Christians now have the potential of becoming ‘children of light‘. [1 Thess. 5:5; Heb. 10:32; Eph. 5:8] (C.C.C. # 1216, 1228)

Definition: 

  • The Roman Catechism (Ad parochos, De bapt., 2, 2, 5) defines baptism thus: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration by water in the word (per aquam in verbo). St. Thomas Aquinas (III:66:1) gives this definition: “Baptism is the external ablution of the body, performed with the prescribed form of words.”
  • Later theologians generally distinguish formally between the physical and the metaphysical defining of this sacrament. By the former they understand the formula expressing the action of ablution and the utterance of the invocation of the Trinity; by the latter, the definition: “Sacrament of regeneration” or that institution of Christ by which we are reborn to spiritual life.
  • The term “regeneration” distinguishes baptism from every other sacrament, for although penance revivifies men spiritually, yet this is rather a resuscitation, a bringing back from the dead, than a rebirth. Penance does not make us Christians; on the contrary, it presupposes that we have already been born of water and the Holy Ghost to the life of grace, while baptism on the other hand was instituted to confer upon men the very beginnings of the spiritual life, to transfer them from the state of enemies of God to the state of adoption, as sons of God.
  • The definition of the Roman Catechism combines the physical and metaphysical definitions of baptism. “The sacrament of regeneration” is the metaphysical essence of the sacrament, while the physical essence is expressed by the second part of the definition, i.e. the washing with water (matter), accompanied by the invocation of the Holy Trinity (form). Baptism is, therefore, the sacrament by which we are born again of water and the Holy Ghost, that is, by which we receive in a new and spiritual life, the dignity of adoption as sons of God and heirs of God’s kingdom.

 The Sacrament of Forgiveness: 

  • As previously said, the Christian who has been baptised has received by the grace of God the indwelling Holy Spirit, a new heart and a new spirit. He is now equipped with the necessary spiritual tools that qualifies him to enter into the Kingdom of God. At the same time, because the new spiritual inclination does not have full control over the worldly ways of the body, the Christian will always battle against evil and sin.
  • To spiritually grow in the likeness of Christ, the Christian must confess his weaknesses of the body. Otherwise, he will not be in harmony with the new heart and spirit that he has received during the Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Christ. consequently his soul will not be pleasing to the Lord. God is jealous of His creations in which His Spirit lives. [Jas. 4:5] He desires that they grow spiritually by loving Him first and then others. God expects the Christians to forgive one another when the spiritual law demands an act of forgiveness. He also expects His children to ask for His forgiveness when they neglect self-control over their bodies through self-abuses and other worldly pleasures that displease Him.
  • Through the Sacrament of Confession, the Christian regains the state of grace that he previously enjoyed when he received the Sacrament of Baptism but which he loss in the eyes of God because of sin. (C.C.C. # 1446) His soul once more becomes stainless, having been sprinkled by the Blood of Christ. [Heb. 9:13-4]

 Baptism: The Door of the Church:

  • The “door of the Church” because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time but in priority, since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
  • Baptism is considered the gateway for all other sacraments. It marks the beginning of our Christian ministry as it frees us from original sin and makes us members in Christ and his Church. Baptism is most often conferred on infants and children too young to understand this important ritual. Therefore, our best option for evangelization is the parents.
  • Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite (or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of the main part of the church, to signify this fact.

Institution of the Sacrament:

  • That Christ instituted the Sacrament of Baptism is unquestionable. Rationalists, like Harnack (Dogmengeschichte, I, 68), dispute it, only by arbitrarily ruling out the texts which prove it. Christ not only commands His Disciples (Matthew 28:19) to baptize and gives them the form to be used, but He also declares explicitly the absolute necessity of baptism (John 3): “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he can not enter into the Kingdom of God.” Moreover, from the general doctrine of the Church on the sacraments, we know that the efficacy attached to them is derivable only from the institution of the Redeemer.
  • When, however, we come to the question as to when precisely Christ instituted baptism, we find that ecclesiastical writers are not agreed. The Scriptures themselves are silent upon the subject. Various occasions have been pointed out as the probable time of institution, as when Christ was Himself baptized in the Jordan, when He declared the necessity of the rebirth to Nicodemus, when He sent His Apostles and Disciples to preach and baptize.
  • The first opinion was quite a favorite with many of the Fathers and Schoolmen, and they are fond of referring to the sanctification of the baptismal water by contact with the flesh of the God-man. Others, as St. Jerome and St. Maximus, appear to assume that Christ baptized John on this occasion and thus instituted the sacrament. There is nothing, however, in the Gospels to indicate that Christ baptized the Precursor at the time of His own baptism. As to the opinion that it was in the colloquy with Nicodemus that the sacrament was instituted, it is not surprising that it has found few adherents. Christ’s words indeed declare the necessity of such an institution, but no more. It seems also very unlikely that Christ would have instituted the sacrament in a secret conference with one who was not to be a herald of its institution.

The Necessity of Baptism:

  • Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel (Mt 28:19)
  • In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
  • For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism of Desire:

  • From very early on, the Church recognized that there are two other types of baptism besides the baptism of water.
  • This applies both to those who, while wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the sacrament and “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of conscience” (Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council).
  • Some people die while being ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His Church. In such cases, it can be presumed that they have received the Baptism of desire and were saved if they truly searched for the truth and lived righteous lives by the will of God in accordance with their understanding. “It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” (C.C.C. # 1260, 1281)

Baptism of Blood:

  • This is similar to the baptism of desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers who were killed for the faith before they had a chance to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the early centuries of the Church, but also in later times in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same effects as the baptism of water.
  • In a situation where someone endures death for the sake of his faith without having received the Sacrament of Baptism, he is baptized by death for and with Christ. The Church recognizes that in such a case, he has received the Baptism of blood, this being like a baptism of desire. Although not a Sacrament, the Baptism of blood reflects the fruit of the Holy Spirit which shines forth. (C.C.C. # 1258)

Matter (or Symbols) of Baptism:

  • WATER:
    • Water is used during the Sacrament of Baptism because it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It shows the actions of the Holy Spirit during the rebirth of Baptism in God. (C.C.C. # 1213) From the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water. [Jn. 4:10; 7:38-9]
    • From the Holy Spirit flows all the blessings [Rev. 21:6] of Jesus Who was crucified. The Sacrament of Baptism allows the new Christian to drink of the Holy Spirit, (C.C.C. # 694) to be sanctified so he may inherit the Kingdom of God.
    • During the ceremony of Baptism, the priest says a prayer of blessing, asking that the water within the baptismal basin be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Touching the water with his right hand, he asks the Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit upon the water that will be used for the baptism of the child (or adult).
  • THE PRAYERS OF EXORCISM
    • During the Sacrament of Baptism, the Priest says two prayers of Exorcism.
    • The first one is said after the reading of the Gospel. During that prayer, the Priest commands any impure spirits who might be present to depart from the person to be baptised. This process is to purify the physical body of the believer. The spiritual body does not need purification because a new creation will be born when the sinful one dies.
    • The second prayer of Exorcism is called “Ephpheta.” (Ephpheta means ‘Be opened’) After the prayer, the Priest touches the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb. He then says, “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
  • THE OIL OF CATECHUMENS
    • Before anointing the child with the oil of catechumens, the priest proceeds to invoke God to set the child free of original sin, to become a Temple of His glory in which will dwell the Holy Spirit.
  • THE OIL OF CHRISM
    • The Sacred Chrism is a perfumed oil that has been consecrated by the Bishop. (C.C.C. # 1241) When the Priest anoints the one to be baptised, he asks God to bless the believer with all the necessary graces to achieve a Christian life. The Word ‘Christian’ comes from the name of ‘Christ’ which means ‘Anointed One’. The baptised person is admitted into the common priesthood of which Jesus is the High Priest.
  • THE WHITE GARMENT
    • The white garment represents putting on Christ. Announcing that the believer has become a new creature, having been clothed with Christ, the Priest places the white garment on the new Christian. He then proclaims that this garment is the outward sign of the believer’s Christian dignity. In the case of infants, with the help of the parents, godparents and friend, by their words and examples, it is proclaimed that the newly baptised child be allowed to bring that dignity unstained into the Heavenly eternal life.
  • THE CANDLE
    • Taking the Easter candle, the priest says, “Receive the light of Christ.”Then, when an infant is involved, the father or the godfather lights the child’s candle from the Easter candle. The priest tells the parents and godparents that they have been entrusted with this light so it will be kept burning brightly. Having been enlightened by Christ, the child is to always walk as a child of the light. The flame of faith which is in his heart is to be kept alive at all time so when the Lord comes, he will go out to meet Him with all the saints of the Heavenly Kingdom.

The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism:

  • The essentials of that rite are two: the pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water); and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism:

  • The ordinary minister of solemn baptism is first the bishop and second the priest. By delegation, a deacon may confer the sacrament solemnly as an extraordinary minister. but any baptized person can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person is in danger, even a non-baptized person, including someone who does not himself believe in Christ, can baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism, to do what the Church does, in other words, to bring the person being baptized into the fullness of the Church.
    • In case of necessity, baptism can be administered lawfully and validly by any person whatsoever who observes the essential conditions, whether this person be a Catholic layman or any other man or woman, heretic or schismatic, infidel or Jew.
  • In the case of an emergency, anyone can baptise another person as long as he has the intention of doing so and says the proper words. He is only required to pour water over the person’s head and say the words, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (C.C.C. # 1284)
  • In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional baptism.
  • Baptism by Lay Persons: When the Catholic Church finds it necessary to do so because of a shortage of ministers, it can appoint properly trained lay persons to assist the priests in the ministering of the religious Sacraments of Baptism and the distribution of Holy Communion. (CCC # 903)

Infant Baptism:

  • In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.
  • Because of the greatness of the eternal gift that is received during the Sacrament of Baptism, the Church does not desire to see anyone die without receiving this Sacrament. (C.C.C. # 1250) The Church also realizes that the Sacrament of Baptism requires a Profession of faith, something that infants and younger children cannot profess.
  • Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child’s salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.
  • Knowing that it had this power, the Catholic Church determined in its spiritual wisdom to baptise infants as soon as they were born. This would ensure that infants would also receive their new heart and spirit to guide them in life. This would be their guarantee of salvation as children of God should they die before reaching the age of reason.
  • Because of this decision, the Church also realized that infants must be educated later on after their Baptism, this being a parental role. This is where the catechism serves a great purpose in the Church. (C.C.C. # 1231)
  • The history of infant Baptism has been traced to the second century and could have also existed during the days of apostolic preaching when entire ‘households’ were baptized. (CCC # 1252, 1282)

Unbaptized Infants: 

  • In situations where infants die without being baptised, the Church can only rely on the mercy of God to invite them in His Kingdom. The Church is fully aware that Jesus wanted the children to come to Him while He lived on earth. [Mk. 10:14]

Christian Parents: 

  • When infants are baptised, the Christian parents who have given birth to this newborn soul, a gift of God, have an obligation to nurture its new life in the light of God. (CCC # 1251)

The Importance of Godparents:

  • Because Baptism is the Sacrament of faith, when godparents speak on behalf of infants, they are asked what do they ask of God’s Church? To this question, they answer, “Faith”. (C.C.C. # 1253)
  • After Baptism, faith must grow within the child. For this reason, the renewal of baptismal promises are made each year at the Easter Vigil. (C.C.C. # 1254)
  • The parents and godparents of newly baptised infants bear the main responsibility for their spiritual growth and the safeguarding of the grace that the infants receive during the Sacrament of Baptism. (C.C.C. # 1255)

Adult Baptism:

  • In new areas where the Gospel is being preached, the Baptism of adults is very common. In such cases, the catechism serves the purpose of preparing the adult into the Christian faith and life to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. (C.C.C. # 1247-9)
  • Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptized, the priest will perform a conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptized once as a Christian if, say, he was baptized as a Lutheran, he cannot be rebaptized when he converts to Catholicism.
  • While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.

Christian Names:

  • When a child is baptized, the parents, godparents (sponsors) and pastor should work together to ensure that the child receives a Christian name that expresses a Christian mystery or virtue. Names that express Christian mysteries can be the name of a saint who lived a great spiritual life and who enjoyed a very special relationship with the Lord Jesus. (C.C.C. # 2156, 2165)

The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism:

Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:

  1. The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).
  2. The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).
  3. The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
  4. Becoming a part of Christ.
  5. Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
  6. Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace.

Rights and Duties:

  • Once baptized and belonging to the Body of Christ, the new Christian belongs to Christ. He is subject to others and required to obey and serve the Church leadership in sincere submission for the successful growth of the Body of Christ. While the Christian has duties to perform towards the Church, he also enjoys the Church Sacraments. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments help the Christian to grow in his spiritual life to become more like Christ. (C.C.C. # 1269)

Suggestions: 

  • Couple Prayer.Encouraging parents to pray together for the sake of the child they are about to baptize is an intimate and powerful experience that can truly unify a couple. Praying together for a tiny infant provides a great foundation and will segue easily and naturally to deeper prayer as the child grows and needs those prayers all the more.
  • Letter to Baby.Invite parents to write a letter to their child about the hopes they have for their son or daughter as he or she grows to follow God. This is an excellent opportunity for a parent to ponder their role in the spiritual life of their child. By putting their hopes and desires in writing, it deepens the commitment and can become a treasured keepsake.
  • Discernment of the Baptismal Name.The naming of a child has great significance and requires prayerful discernment. As Catholics, we have a wonderful tradition of naming our children after great saints. These holy individuals can provide our children with a strong and virtuous role model and a spiritual companion for life.
  • Choice of Godparents.Godparents are not a figure head in the Catholic Church, but a vital player in the spiritual life of the child being baptized. A carefully discerned Godparent will be convicted in their Catholic faith and committed to see that the child is raised as promised.
  • Easter Vigil.Easter Vigil is the Church’s grand celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism, with the blessing of the paschal candle and the entrance of all the catechumens and candidates into the Church. Yet many Catholics have never experienced it. Enthusiastically andpersonally invite families to attend!
  • Baptismal Anniversaries.Mark the anniversary dates of each family member of the calendar. Celebrate those special days by reminiscing over photos or lighting the baptismal candle. This is a wonderful opportunity for the family to recite together the baptismal vows.
  • On-Going Catechesis.Even though most children will have already been baptized by the time they begin to understand this sacrament, it doesn’t mean there can’t be on-going catechesis. Choose biblical “water stories” (i.e. Noah and the flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, Jesus’ baptism, etc.) as a teaching tool for explaining the sacrament, since each of these events pre-figure baptism in some way. If a baptism is going to take place during a Mass you are attending, give your children seats with a good view of all the action, while quietly pointing out symbols such as the chrism oil, the candle, and the white garment. And remember, when it’s time to renew the vows, do it loudly and proudly!

References:

  • com/article/23/the-sacrament-of-baptism-immersed-in-grace.html
  • catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/p/Sac_Baptism.htm
  • catholicdoors.com/courses/baptism.htm
  • newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#XVII

Back to: Basics of Catholicism

Catholic Purgatory: What Does It Mean?

For the Catholic Purgatory is a period of purification after death.

When we die, our souls are judged immediately by Christ in what’s called the “Particular Judgment”:

Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately, — or immediate and everlasting damnation. (Catechism, 1022)

Purgatory is this period of purification before heaven.

It’s not always well understood by today’s Catholics but Purgatory is still very much a part of Catholic doctrine.

It is not a “second chance”

Don’t think that Purgatory is anything like a “second chance” for those who have not won the reward of heaven!

During our human life, we either accept or reject God’s offer of divine grace. Once we die, our choice is definitive. We cannot change our mind after death. (Catechism, 1021)

Heaven and hell are real. They’re part of a viewpoint that’s fully Catholic and Purgatory is simply a transitional state for those who have merited heaven but still have aspects of their souls that are not yet fully purified. Purgatory is where that purification happens after death.

The souls in Purgatory are assured of salvation. They’ve died in God’s grace and friendship, and will end up in heaven. But they’re not yet in a full state of holiness — the holiness that’s necessary to behold God “face to face” in heaven. (Catechism, 1030)

Basis in Scripture and Tradition

The Catholic Church is often accused of inventing the concept of Purgatory out of thin air. Not so!

You don’t hear about it from many who aren’t Catholic but Purgatory does have deep roots in Sacred Scripture as well as Catholic Tradition — the full, living faith of the Apostles as received from Christ.

First, it’s based on the ancient Jewish practice of prayer for the dead, as mentioned in Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Macc 12:46)

The early Christians continued this practice: “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.” (Catechism, 1032)

Inscriptions on the walls and tombs of the Catacombs testify to the belief of many early Catholics in Purgatory.

The words of the Apostles in the New Testament also clearly tell us about being “tested by fire” (1 Pet 1:7). St. Paul warns us that if someone builds on the true foundation of Christ but doesn’t take care to build well, “the person will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15).

Finally, the Catechism quotes St. Gregory the Great:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (Catechism, 1031)

(It’s worth reading the Catechism’s brief section on Catholic Purgatory to see the straightforward teaching of Catholics about Purgatory.)

Purgatory: part of the Good News

Part of the faith of Catholics is that Purgatory is a good thing!

Purgatory reveals the depth of God’s mercy: even those who are not yet perfect can attain the fullness of heaven.

For Catholics Purgatory helps us hope in perfection even when we can’t completely achieve it in this life.

beginningcatholic.com/catholic-purgatory.html

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