Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Confessional. Part 50.

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


16. Necessity and Nature of the Purpose of Amendment.

According to the decision of the Council of Trent, as we have seen above, the resolution to amend as well as contrition is required for the valid reception of the Sacrament. With a true sorrow for sin is always conjoined the resolution to avoid it, so that we may say with regard to past sins sorrow means grief and horror, with regard to the future it means the resolution to amend. For instance, a man who hates the sin he has committed, because it is sin and in so far as it is sin, i.e. because it is an offence against God and the greatest misfortune which can befall a mortal, naturally extends that sorrow to everything which involves sin, and so to the sins of the future, since they offer the same grounds for hatred as the rest.

Now amendment is effected by the deliberate intention never to sin again for the future. A distinction is drawn between the express or formal resolve (propositum explicitum seu formale), as when, for example, a man thinks upon his future life and resolves to sin no more, and the implicit resolve contained in the sorrow (propositum implicitum seu virtuale); the latter is present when a man, without thinking upon his future life, repents of his sin in such wise that, if asked whether he intends for the future to avoid sin, he would most certainly answer in the affirmative.

It is a disputed point among theologians whether for the validity of confession an express (formal) resolve is necessary or one included in the act of contrition (a virtual resolve) is sufficient. Some teach absolutely (very few, however) that an express resolve is necessary, and appeal to the Council of Trent as requiring this condition, since, after defining the act of contrition, it adds the words: Cum proposito non peccandi de cætero. 

This argument is successfully invalidated by Cardinal Lugo, who, in addition, brings convincing testimony that the very opposite conclusion may be drawn from the teaching of the Council. Since, moreover, as Ballerini shows in his notes on Gury's text, only a very few theologians adopt that view, it can hardly lay any claim to probability. 1

1 Ballerini points out particularly that the older theologians, as Petrus Lombardus, St. Thomas, Blessed Albert, Scotus, Durandus, were quoted without reason as upholders of this view, for, though they insisted on the necessity of some sort of purpose of amendment, they made no distinction between a formal and a virtual purpose. Cf. Bellarmin, De Poenit. Lib. II. cp. 6. Moreover, Suarez, Cajetan, Bonacina, Henriquez, and Gregory of Valentia are wrongly quoted in favor of this view; they taught the very opposite. Cf. Ballerini, Notaj, 1. c. ad n. 462.