Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Confessional. Part 34.

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

Finally, there is an obligation (per accidens) to awaken perfect contrition when one has to exercise some act for which a state of grace is required and the Sacrament of Penance is not accessible. A priest, for instance, is in a state of mortal sin and is called upon to administer one of the Sacraments, or one of the faithful has to receive one of the Sacraments of the living and cannot get absolution beforehand. This also holds true if an act of perfect love has to be made; in this case every one is obliged, when there occurs to his mind a mortal sin not yet repented of, to detest the same and to be sorry for it from the motive of the love of God. According to the general opinion of theologians an act of love should be made in the hour of death, whence St. Alphonsus teaches that a dying man who has confessed with only imperfect sorrow should be recommended to elicit an act of perfect contrition, for it is impossible to make an act of love without bewailing the sins from the same motive of love. Finally, this duty is pressing when one is exposed to severe temptations which cannot be overcome while one is in a state of enmity with God.

We would add another observation: Since perfect contrition is so pleasing to God and so helpful to those sinners especially who have fallen seriously, the pastor of souls should seize every opportunity of instructing the faithful and urging them to elicit such acts frequently, especially when they are in danger of death and have no opportunity of approaching the Sacrament of Penance. Children particularly should be taught on this subject, and a good form of the act given to them. They may have need of it themselves in order to be saved from eternal damnation, and they may come to the assistance of their elders at the hour of death; indeed experience teaches that well-instructed children more than once have reminded people in such straits of the act of perfect contrition, and have persuaded those persons to make it with them; finally, what has been learned in childhood will turn out useful to many in their old age.