Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Confessional. Part 37.

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

1. The first view teaches that sorrow from the motive of fear, as long as it is true sorrow, is quite sufficient of itself for obtaining sanctifying grace in the Sacrament. This sorrow produces hatred and detestation of sin and a return to God's law, and is inseparable from the hope of pardon. Hence the sinner becomes capable of receiving the grace of the Sacrament. Melchior Canus is the most famous of the defenders of this view, who are called Attritionists because they hold that mere attrition from the fear of the punishments inflicted on sin is a sufficient disposition. They thought that every sort of love was excluded from this contrition based on fear, a position which seems impossible both psychologically and in view of the action of grace; as was evidently the general opinion of the Fathers at the Council of Trent. Instead of the present clause in cap. 4: attritio eum ad gratiam in sacramento pænitentiæ impetrandam disponit, another had been presented to them: ad constitutionem sacramenti sufficit, ac donum Dei esse ac Spiritus S . impulsum verissimum non adhuc quidem inhabitantis sed tantum moventis quo pæmitens adjutus (cum sine aliquo dilectionis in Deum motu esse vix queat) viam sibi ad justitiam munit et per eam ad Dei gratiam facilius impetrandum disponitur. Since it was urged that men of. eminent learning made a distinction between such sorrow and love, the present form of the clause was chosen in order to avoid defining a scholastic question on which the Doctors were not of one mind; by using the word disponit the Council did not wish to mean a sufficient disposition, and to indicate this more clearly it purposely avoided the use of the word sufficit. 

2. The second opinion holds that the sorrow based on fear is sufficient only when there is joined with it some beginning of the love of God, as our highest good. This view supported by the most eminent theologians rests on solid foundations, and is now the more usual opinion among theologians. That there is nothing in this view opposed to the Council of Trent is clear from what has been said above on this point. In another place in the Sixth Session (cap. 6) there is indirect authority for it, where the Council, in describing the progress towards preparation for the first grace, teaches that the sinner who is disposing his soul for justification must begin to love God as the source of all justice.