Fourth of the 7 RC sacraments*; molded from the Office of the Keys,* and the ancient practice of pub. penance for grave offenses (see Penitential Discipline), under influence of RC teaching of the merit of works and with aid of the monastic spirit.
Those who by sin have fallen from the grace of justification which they had received can be justified again when, moved by God, they shall have taken steps, through the sacrament of penance, to recover, by Christ's merit, the grace which they lost. For this manner of justification is restoration of the fallen, which the holy fathers have aptly called a second plank after the shipwreck of grace lost (Baptism being the 1st).
The acts of the penitent himself, namely contrition,* confession,* and satisfaction, constitute, as it were, the matter of this sacrament.
So great is the liberality of divine munificence that we can, through Jesus Christ, make satisfaction to God the Father, not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sin, or by those imposed at the priest's discretion according to the measure of the offense, but also (and this is the greatest proof of love) by temporal afflictions imposed by God and borne patiently by us. See also Indulgences; Merit.
If anyone says that there are only two parts of penance, namely the terrors with which a conscience convinced of sin is stricken and faith generated [or conceived] by the Gospel or by absolution, whereby one believes that sin is forgiven him through Christ, let him be anathema.
If anyone says that the whole punishment is always remitted by God together with the guilt and that the satisfaction of penitents is nothing else than faith, by which they grasp the fact that Christ has made satisfaction for them, let him be anathema.
Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent,* Sess. VI, Decree Concerning Justification, chap. 14; Sess. XIV, The Most Holy Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction, chaps. 3 and 9, and Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance, canons 4 and 12.
Acc. to RC doctrine, faith must precede penance but can in no sense be properly called part of penance (Catechismus Romanus, II, v, 5).
AC XII: It is taught among us that those who sin after Baptism receive forgiveness of sin whenever they come to repentance, and absolution should not be denied them by the church. Properly speaking, true repentance is nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow, or terror, on account of sin, and yet at the same time to believe the Gospel and absolution (namely, that sin has been forgiven and grace has been obtained through Christ), and this faith will comfort the heart and again set it at rest. Amendment of life and the forsaking of sin should then follow, for these must be the fruits of repentance, as John says, 'Bear fruit that befits repentance' (Matt. 3:8) Rejected are those who teach that forgiveness of sin is not obtained through faith but through the satisfactions made by man.
See also Repentance.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
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