Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Confessional. Part 10.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

4. Forgiveness of Venial Sin.

Venial sins are forgiven: —

1. By the Sacrament of Penance, and that directly and ex opere operato, when they are submitted in confession to the power of the keys with formal contrition and purpose of amendment.

2. "By many other means," such as: —

(a) All the Sacraments; they remit sins ex opere operato, and especially those sins which are opposed to the particular end of the Sacrament. For the object of every Sacrament is the sanctification of souls, and hence the removal of all that hinders this sanctification. Now venial sins in particular, by hindering the conferring of richer graces, are an obstacle in the way of attaining sanctity. Cardinal Lugo, in treating this subject, illustrates it by the attitude of two friends: "Even where, in the strict nature of things, we cannot expect that the influx of grace should cause the remission of sins, yet it is in accordance with good feeling that where fresh and closer ties of friendship have been formed, little offences should be condoned. If, then, the influx or increase of grace is a new bond of friendship between God and the just man, uniting him more intimately with God, an embrace of love, so to speak, and a kiss of peace, it is probable and reasonable to suppose that there is granted also a remission of the smaller sins which have been retracted."

It is always, however, necessary and sufficient to elicit at least a virtual or implicit contrition, contained in a pious and supernatural affection toward God, which is opposed to venial sins, and is consequently a virtual horror and retraction of the same.

Not all the Sacraments, however, effect this forgiveness in the same manner. Next to the Sacrament of Penance, Baptism and Extreme Unction have a peculiar power, because they were instituted by Christ for the very purpose of forgiving sins. If an adult who had been purified of original sin and of his mortal sins by perfect love and contrition (the Baptism of desire), but, on account of his attachment to venial sins, was not yet freed of these, were to receive Baptism, all his venial sins for which he had at least virtual contrition would be forgiven through this Sacrament. For, according to the teaching of the Council of Trent, Baptism effects a new birth, and in consequence the remission of sins, with the exception, of course, of those venial sins which the newly baptized person has not yet renounced.