Monday, 13 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 79.

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

24. The Confession of the Circumstances of Sins.

The circumstances under which sins are committed (conditiones quæ actus substantiam circumstant atque in ejus moralitatem influunt) are of different kinds: 1. Some change the species of the sin (speciem mutantes) ; for example, the circumstance of a vow or of marriage adds to the sin of impurity that of sacrilege or that of adultery. 2. Other circumstances are aggravating (aggravantes) in greater or less degree and gradum moralitatis mutantes or moralitatem augentes — such, for instance, as increase the malice within the limits of the same species; they are the duration of the act, its intensity, its degree, the manner of carrying it out, the particular occasion, etc. 3. Other circumstances are mitigating (minuentes, moralitatem minuentes),  because they palliate the malice of the act; as, for example, want of advertence, etc.

The circumstances must be confessed: —

I. If they change the species of the sin. This is the express teaching of the Council of Trent. Hence it is not enough to confess to stealing if the property of the Church has been taken; for the stealing of a res sacra is not merely a sin of injustice but a theft from God and so a new sin. If a child curses its parents, it is not enough to mention that it cursed, for, since special reverence is due to parents, the violation of that special reverence is a new sin.

The following circumstances call for particular mention: —

1. The circumstance of the person who commits the sin, when with regard to the matter of the sin he is consecrated to God or bound by vow, as in sins against purity, or when he sins against the chastity of the married state, or when he stands in special spiritual relations towards those with whom he sins.

If a man is consecrated to God by Holy Orders or the religious state and has to confess a sin against purity, he must mention the circumstance of his state of life, since he has committed a double sin, one of impurity and another of sacrilege. Now those who are consecrated to God by Holy Orders or the religious state incur the special sin of sacrilege when they fall into impurity; the mere circumstance of the vow being simple or solemn does not constitute a new species, nor the fact of being bound to chastity by vows of religion as well as by Orders; these added details need not be confessed. Many moralists teach also that those incur sacrilege who are bound by a private vow of chastity, and St. Alphonsus admits this opinion as probable. Hence all those who have sinned against purity make a full confession when they confess the circumstance of the vow by which they are bound, without distinguishing whether the vow be private, solemn, simple, or that of Orders (votum solemne ordinis sacri).