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Full Catechism about Penance/Reconciliation
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Full Catechism about Penance/Reconciliation

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Why did Christ institute the sacraments of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick?

Christ, the physician of our soul and body, instituted these sacraments because the new life that he gives us in the sacraments of Christian initiation can be weakened and even lost because of sin. Therefore, Christ willed that his Church should continue his work of healing and salvation by means off these two sacraments.

Further reading: CCC 1420-1421, 1426

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

What is the name of this sacrament?

It is called the sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of Reconciliation, the sacraments of Forgiveness, the sacrament of Confession, and the sacrament of Conversion.

Further reading: CCC 1422-1424

Why is there a sacrament of Reconciliation after Baptism?

Since the new life of grace received in Baptism does not abolish the weakness of human nature nor the inclination to sin (that is, concupiscence), Christ instituted this sacrament for the conversion of the baptized who have been separated from him by sin.

When did he institute this sacrament (Reconciliation)?

The risen Lord instituted this sacrament on the evening of Easter when he showed himself to his apostles 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.” (John20:22-23).

Further reading: CCC 1485

Do the baptized have need of conversion?

The call of Christ to conversion continue to resound in the lives of the baptized. Conversion is a continuing obligation for the whole Church. She is holy but includes sinners in her midst.

Further reading: CCC 1427-1429

What is interior penance?

It is the movement of a “contrite heart” (Psalm 51:19) drawn by divine grace to respond to the merciful love of God. This entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, a firm purpose not to sin again in the future and trust in the help of God. It is nourished by hope in divine mercy.

Further reading: CCC 1430-1433, 1490

What forms does penance take in the Christian life?

Penance can be expressed in many and various ways but above all in fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. These and many other forms of penance can be practiced in the daily life of a Christian, particularly during the time of Lent and on the penitential day of Friday.

Further reading: CCC 1434-1439

What are the essential elements of the sacrament of Reconciliation?

The essential elements are two: the acts of the penitent who comes to repentance through the action of the Holy Spirit, and the absolution of the priest who in the name of Christ grants forgiveness and determines the ways of making satisfaction.

Further reading: CCC 1440-1449

303. What are the acts of the penitent?

They are: a careful examination of conscience; contrition (or repentance), which is perfect when it is motivated by love of God and imperfect if it rests on other motives and which includes the determination not to sin again; confession, which consists in the telling of one’s sins to the priest; and satisfaction or the carrying out of certain acts of penance which the confessor imposes upon the penitent to repair the damage caused by sin.

Further reading: CCC 1450-1460, 1487-1492

Which sins must be confessed?

All grave sins not yet confessed, which a careful examination of conscience brings to mind, must be brought to the sacrament of Penance. The confession of serious sins is the only ordinary way to obtain forgiveness.Further reading: CCC 1456

When is a person obliged to confess mortal sins?

Each of the faithful who has reached the age of discretion is bound to confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year and always before receiving Holy Communion.

Further reading: CCC 1457

Why can venial sins also be the object of sacramental confession?

The confession of venial sins is strongly recommended by the Church, even if this is note strictly necessary, because it helps us to form a correct conscience and to fight against evil tendencies. It allows us to be healed by Christ and to progress in the life of the Spirit.

Further reading: CCC 1458

Who is the minister of this sacrament (Reconciliation)?

Christ has entrusted the ministry of Reconciliation to his apostles, to the bishops who are their successors and to the priests who are the collaborators of the bishops, all of whom become thereby instruments of the mercy and justice of God. They exercise their power of forgiving sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Further reading: CCC 1461-1466, 1495

To whom is the absolution of some sins reserved?

The absolution of certain particularly grave sins (like those punished by excommunication) is reserved to the Apostolic See or to the local bishop or to priests who are authorized by them. Any priest, however, can absolve a person who is in danger of death from any sin and excommunication.

Further reading: CCC 1463

Is a confessor bound to secrecy?

Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to people every confessor, without any exception and under very severe penalties, is bound to maintain “the sacramental seal” which means absolute secrecy about the sins revealed to him in confession.

Further reading: CCC 1467

What are the effects of this sacrament?

The effects of the sacrament of Penance are: reconciliation with God and therefore the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; recovery, if it has been lost, of the state of grace; remission of the eternal punishment merited by mortal sins, and remission, at least in part, of the temporal punishment which is the consequence of sin; peace, serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation; and an increase of spiritual strength for the struggle of Christian living.

Further reading: CCC 1468-1470, 1496

Can this sacrament be celebrated in some cases with a general confession and general absolution?

In cases of serious necessity (as in imminent danger of death) recourse may be had to be a communal celebration of Reconciliation with general confession and general absolution, as long as the norms of the Church are observed and there is the intention of individually confessing one’s grave sins in due time.

Further reading: CCC 1480-1484

What are indulgences?

Indulgences are the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven. The faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains the indulgence under prescribed conditions for either himself or the departed. Indulgences are granted through the ministry of the Church which, as the dispenser of the grace of redemption, distributes the treasury of the merits of Christ and the Saints.

Further reading: CCC 1471-1479, 1498

How was sickness viewed in the Old Testament?

In the Old Testament sickness was experienced as a sign of weakness and at the same time perceived as mysteriously bound up with sin. The prophets intuited that sickness could also have a redemptive value for one’s own sins and those of others. Thus sickness was lived out in the presence of God from whom people implored healing.

Further reading: CCC 1499-1502

What is the significance of Jesus’ compassion for the sick?

The compassion of Jesus toward the sick and his many healings of the infirm were a clear sign that with him had come the Kingdom of God and therefore victory over sin, over suffering, and over death. By his own passion and death he gave new meaning to our suffering which, when united with his own, can become a mens of purification and of salvation for us and for others.

Further reading: CCC 1503-1505

What is the attitude of the Church toward the sick?

Having received from the Lord the charge to heal the sick, the Church strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick and accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. Above all, the Church possesses a sacrament specifically intended for the benefit of the sick. This sacrament was instituted by Christ and is attested by Saint James. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call in the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14-15).

Further reading: CCC 1506-1513, 1526-1527

Who can receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick?

Any member of the faithful can receive this sacrament as soon as he or she beings to be in danger of death because of sickness or old age. The faithful who receive this sacrament can receive it several times if their illness becomes worse or another serious sickness afflicts them. The celebration of this sacrament should, if possible, be preceded by individual confession on the part of the sick person.

Further reading: CCC 1514-1515, 1528-1529

Who administers this sacrament?

This sacrament can be administered only by priests (bishops or presbyters).
Further reading: CCC 1516, 1530

How is this sacrament celebrated?

The celebration of this sacrament consists essentially in an anointing with oil which may be blessed by the bishop. The anointing is on the forehead and on the hands of the sick person (in the Roman rite) or also on other parts of the body (in the other rites) accompanied by the prayer of the priest who asks for the special grace of this sacrament.

Further reading: CCC 1517-1519, 1531

What are the effects of this sacrament?

This sacrament confers a special grace which unites the sick person more intimately to the Passion of Christ for his good and for the good of all the Church. It gives comfort, peace, courage and even the forgiveness of sins if the sick person is not able to make a confession. Sometimes, if it is the will of God, the sacrament even brings about the restoration of physical health. In any case this Anointing prepares the sick person for the journey to the Father’s House.

Further reading: CCC 1520-1523, 1532

What is Viaticum?

Viaticum is the Holy Eucharist received by those who are about to leave this early life and are preparing for the journey to eternal life. Communion in the body and blood of Christ who died and rose from the dead, received at the moment of passing from this world to the Father, is the seed of eternal life and the power of the resurrection.

Further reading: CCC 1524-1525

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