Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 12
LESSON TWELFTH: On the Attributes and Marks of the Church
Q. 517. What is an attribute?
A. An attribute is any characteristic or quality that a person or thing may be said to have. All perfections or imperfections are attributes .
Q. 518. What is a mark?
A. A mark is a given and known sign by which a thing can be distinguished from all others of its kind. Thus a trademark is used to distinguish the article bearing it from all imitations of the same article.
Q. 519. How do we know that the Church must have the four marks and three attributes usually ascribed or given to it?
A. We know that the Church must have the four marks and three attributes usually ascribed or given to it from the words of Christ given in the Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church from its beginning.
Q. 520. Can the Church have the four marks without the three attributes?
A. The Church cannot have the four marks without the three attributes, because the three attributes necessarily come with the marks and without them the marks could not exist.
Q. 521. Why are both marks and attributes necessary in the Church?
A. Both marks and attributes are necessary in the Church, for the marks teach us its external or visible qualities, while the attributes teach us its internal or invisible qualities. It is easier to discover the marks than the attributes; for it is easier to see that the Church is one than that it is infallible.
Q. 522. Which are the attributes of the Church?
A. The attributes of the Church are three: 1.authority, infallibility, and indefectibility.
Q. 523. What is authority?
A. Authority is the power which one person has over another so as to be able to justly exact obedience. Rulers have authority over their subjects, parents over their children, and teachers over their scholars.
Q. 524. From whom must all persons derive whatever lawful authority they possess?
A. All persons must derive whatever lawful authority they possess from God Himself, from whom they receive it directly or indirectly. Therefore, to disobey our lawful superiors is to disobey God Himself, and hence such disobedience is always sinful.
Q. 525. What do you mean by the authority of the Church?
A. By the authority of the Church I mean the right and power which the Pope and the Bishops, as the successors of the Apostles, have to teach and to govern the faithful.
Q. 526. What do you mean by the infallibility of the Church?
A. By the infallibility of the Church I mean that the Church can not err when it teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.
Q. 527. What do we mean by a "doctrine of faith or morals"?
A. By a doctrine of faith or morals we mean the revealed teaching that refers to whatever we must believe and do in order to be saved.
Q. 528. How do you know that the Church can not err?
A. I know that the Church can not err because Christ promised that the Holy Ghost would remain with it forever and save it from error. If, therefore, the Church has erred, the Holy Ghost must have abandoned it and Christ has failed to keep His promise, which is a thing impossible.
Q. 529. Since the Church can not err, could it ever be reformed in its teaching of faith or morals?
A. Since the Church can not err, it could never be reformed in its teaching of faith or morals. Those who say the Church needed reformation in faith or morals accuse Our Lord of falsehood and deception.
Q. 530. When does the Church teach infallibly?
A. The Church teaches infallibly when it speaks through the Pope and Bishops united in general council, or through the Pope alone when he proclaims to all the faithful a doctrine of faith or morals.
Q. 531. What is necessary that the Pope may speak infallibly or ex-cathedra?
A. That the Pope may speak infallibly, or ex-cathedra:
- He must speak on a subject of faith or morals;
- He must speak as the Vicar of Christ and to the whole Church;
- He must indicate by certain words, such as, we define, we proclaim, etc., that he intends to speak infallibly.
Q. 532. Is the Pope infallible in everything he says and does?
A. The Pope is not infallible in everything he says and does, because the Holy Ghost was not promised to make him infallible in everything, but only in matters of faith and morals for the whole Church. Nevertheless, the Pope's opinion on any subject deserves our greatest respect on account of his learning, experience and dignity.
Q. 533. Can the Pope commit sin?
A. The Pope can commit sin and he must seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance as others do. Infallibility does not prevent him from sinning, but from teaching falsehood when he speaks ex-cathedra.
Q. 534. What does ex-cathedra mean?
A. "Cathedra" means a seat, and "ex" means out of. Therefore, ex-cathedra means speaking from the seat or official place held by St. Peter and his successors as the head of the whole Church.
Q. 535. Why is the chief Church in a diocese called a Cathedral?
A. The chief Church in a diocese is called a Cathedral because the bishop's cathedra, that is, his seat or throne, is erected in it, and because he celebrates all important feasts and performs all his special duties in it.
Q. 536. How many Popes have governed the Church from St. Peter to Pius XI.?
A. From St. Peter to Pius XI., 261 Popes have governed the Church; and many of them have been remarkable for their zeal, prudence, learning and sanctity.
Q. 537. What does anti-pope mean, and who were the anti-popes?
A. Anti-pope means a pretended pope. The anti-popes were men who by the aid of faithless Christians or others unlawfully seized and claimed the papal power while the lawful pope was in prison or exile.
Q. 538. Why must the Pope sometimes warn us on political and other matters?
A. The Pope must sometimes warn us on political and other matters, because whatever nations or men do is either good or bad, just or unjust, and wherever the Pope discovers falsehood, wickedness or injustice he must speak against it and defend the truths of faith and morals. He must protect also the temporal rights and property of the Church committed to his care.
Q. 539. What do we mean by the "temporal power" of the Pope?
A. By the temporal power of the Pope we mean the right which the Pope has as a temporal or ordinary ruler to govern the states and manage the properties that have rightfully come into the possession of the Church.
Q. 540. How did the Pope acquire and how was he deprived of the temporal power?
A. The Pope acquired the temporal power in a just manner by the consent of those who had a right to bestow it. He was deprived of it in an unjust manner by political changes.
Q. 541. How was the temporal power useful to the Church?
A. The temporal power was useful to the Church:
- Because it gave the Pope the complete independence necessary for the government of the Church and for the defense of truth and virtue.
- It enabled him to do much for the spread of the true religion by giving alms for the establishment and support of Churches and schools in poor or pagan countries.
Q. 542. What name do we give to the offerings made yearly by the faithful for the support of the Pope and the government of the Church?
A. We call the offerings made yearly by the faithful for the support of the Pope and government of the Church "Peter's pence." It derives its name from the early custom of sending yearly a penny from every house to the successor of St. Peter, as a mark of respect or as an alms for some charity.
Q. 543. What do you mean by the indefectibility of the Church?
A. By the indefectibility of the Church I mean that the Church, as Christ founded it, will last till the end of time.
Q. 544. What is the difference between the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church?
A. When we say the Church is infallible we mean that it can never teach error while it lasts; but when we say the Church is indefectible, we mean that it will last forever and be infallible forever; that it will always remain as Our Lord founded it and never change the doctrines He taught.
Q. 545. Did Our Lord Himself make all the laws of the Church?
A. Our Lord Himself did not make all the laws of the Church. He gave the Church also power to make laws to suit the needs of the times, places or persons as it judged necessary.
Q. 546. Can the Church change its laws?
A. The Church can, when necessary, change the laws it has itself made, but it cannot change the laws that Christ has made. Neither can the Church change any doctrine of faith or morals.
Q. 547. In whom are these attributes found in their fullness?
A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible Head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests, and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.
Q. 548. Has the Church any marks by which it may be known?
A. The Church has four marks by which it may be known: it is One; it is Holy; it is Catholic; it is Apostolic.
Q. 549. How is the Church One?
A. The Church is One because all its members agree in one faith, are all in one communion, and are all under one head.
Q. 550. How is it evident that the Church is one in government?
A. It is evident that the Church is one in government, for the faithful in a parish are subject to their pastors, the pastors are subject to the bishops of their dioceses, and the bishops of the world are subject to the Pope.
Q. 551. What is meant by the Hierarchy of the Church?
A. By the Hierarchy of the Church is meant the sacred body of clerical rules who govern the Church.
Q. 552. How is it evident that the Church is one in worship?
A. It is evident that the Church is one in worship because all its members make use of the same sacrifice and receive the same Sacraments.
Q. 553. How is it evident that the Church is one in faith?
A. It is evident the Church is one in faith because all Catholics throughout the world believe each and every article of faith proposed by the Church.
Q. 554. Could a person who denies only one article of our faith be a Catholic?
A. A person who denies even one article of our faith could not be a Catholic; for truth is one and we must accept it whole and entire or not at all.
Q. 555. Are there any pious beliefs and practices in the Church that are not articles of faith?
A. There are many pious beliefs and practices in the Church that are not articles of faith; that is, we are not bound under pain of sin to believe in them; yet we will often find them useful aids to holiness, and hence they are recommended by our pastors.
Q. 556. Of what sin are persons guilty who put firm belief in religious or other practices that are either forbidden or useless?
A. Persons who put a firm belief in religious or other practices that are forbidden or useless are guilty of the sin of superstition.
Q. 557. Where does the Church find the revealed truths it is bound to teach?
A. The Church finds the revealed truths it is bound to teach in the Holy Scripture and revealed traditions.
Q. 558. What is the Holy Scripture or Bible?
A. The Holy Scripture or Bible is the collection of sacred, inspired writings through which God has made known to us many revealed truths. Some call them letters from Heaven to earth, that is, from God to man.
Q. 559. What is meant by the Canon of the Sacred Scriptures?
A. The Canon of Sacred Scriptures means the list the Church has prepared to teach us what sacred writings are Holy Scripture and contain the inspired word of God.
Q. 560. Where does the Church find the revealed traditions?
A. The Church finds the revealed traditions in the decrees of its councils; in its books of worship; in its paintings and inscriptions on tombs and monuments; in the lives of its Saints; the writings of its Fathers, and in its own history.
Q. 561. Must we ourselves seek in the Scriptures and traditions for what we are to believe?
A. We ourselves need not seek in the Scriptures and traditions for what we are to believe. God has appointed the Church to be our guide to salvation and we must accept its teaching us our infallible rule of faith.
Q. 562. How do we show that the Holy Scriptures alone could not be our guide to salvation and infallible rule of faith?
A. We show that the Holy Scripture alone could not be our guide to salvation and infallible rule of faith:
- Because all men cannot examine or understand the Holy Scripture; but all can listen to the teaching of the Church;
- Because the New Testament or Christian part of the Scripture was not written at the beginning of the Church's existence, and, therefore, could not have been used as the rule of faith by the first Christians;
- Because there are many things in the Holy Scripture that cannot be understood without the explanation given by tradition, and hence those who take the Scripture alone for their rule of faith are constantly disputing about its meaning and what they are to believe.
Q. 563. How is the Church Holy?
A. The Church is Holy because its founder, Jesus Christ, is holy; because it teaches a holy doctrine; invites all to a holy life; and because of the eminent holiness of so many thousands of its children.
Q. 564. How is the Church Catholic or universal?
A. The Church is Catholic or universal because it subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and maintains all truth.
Q. 565. How do you show that the Catholic Church is universal in time, in place, and in doctrine?
- The Catholic Church is universal in time, for from the time of the Apostles to the present it has existed, taught and labored in every age;
- It is universal in place, for it has taught throughout the whole world;
- It is universal in doctrine, for it teaches the same everywhere, and its doctrines are suited to all classes of persons. It has converted all the pagan nations that have ever been converted.
Q. 566. Why does the Church use the Latin language instead of the national language of its children?
A. The Church uses the Latin language instead of the national language of its children:
- To avoid the danger of changing any part of its teaching in using different languages;
- That all its rulers may be perfectly united and understood in their communications;
- To show that the Church is not an institute of any particular nation, but the guide of all nations.
Q. 567. How is the Church Apostolic?
A. The Church is Apostolic because it was founded by Christ on His Apostles, and is governed by their lawful successors, and because it has never ceased, and never will cease, to teach their doctrine.
Q. 568. Does the Church, by defining certain truths, thereby make new doctrines?
A. The Church, by defining, that is, by proclaiming certain truths, articles of faith, does not make new doctrines, but simply teaches more clearly and with greater effort truths that have always been believed and held by the Church.
Q. 569. What, then, is the use of defining or declaring a truth an article of faith if it has always been believed?
A. The use of defining or declaring a truth an article of faith, even when it has always been believed, is: (1) To clearly contradict those who deny it and show their teaching false; (2) To remove all doubt about the exact teaching of the Church, and to put an end to all discussion about the truth defined.
Q. 570. In which Church are these attributes and marks found?
A. These attributes and marks are found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church alone.
Q. 571. How do you show that Protestant Churches have not the marks of the true Church?
A. Protestant Churches have not the marks of the true Church, because:
- They are not one either in government or faith; for they have no chief head, and they profess different beliefs;
- They are not holy, because their doctrines are founded on error and lead to evil consequences;
- They are not catholic or universal in time, place or doctrine. They have not existed in all ages nor in all places, and their doctrines do not suit all classes;
- They are not apostolic, for they were not established for hundreds of years after the Apostles, and they do not teach the doctrines of the Apostles.
Q. 572. From whom does the Church derive its undying life and infallible authority?
A. The Church derives its undying life and infallible authority from the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, who abides with it forever.
Q. 573. By whom is the Church made and kept One, Holy, and Catholic?
A. The Church is made and kept One, Holy, and Catholic by the Holy Ghost, the spirit of love and holiness, who unites and sanctifies its members throughout the world.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 13
LESSON THIRTEENTH: On the Sacraments in General
Q. 574. What is a Sacrament?
A. A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
Q. 575. Are these three things, namely: An outward or visible sign, the institution of that sign by Christ, and the giving of grace through the use of that sign, always necessary for the existence of a Sacrament?
A. These three things, namely: 1.An outward or visible sign, the institution of that sign by Christ, and the giving of grace through the use of that sign, are always necessary for the existence of a Sacrament, and if any of the three be wanting there can be no Sacrament.
Q. 576. Why does the Church use numerous ceremonies or actions in applying the outward signs of the Sacraments?
A. The Church uses numerous ceremonies or actions in applying the outward signs of the Sacraments to increase our reverence and devotion for the Sacraments, and to explain their meaning and effects.
Q. 577. How many Sacraments are there?
A. There are seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
Q. 578. Were all the Sacraments instituted by Our Lord?
A. All the Sacraments were instituted by Our Lord, for God alone has power to attach the gift of grace to the use of an outward or visible sign. The Church, however, can institute the ceremonies to be used in administering or giving the Sacraments.
Q. 579. How do we know there are seven Sacraments and no more or less?
A. We know there are seven Sacraments and no more or less because the Church always taught that truth. The number of the Sacraments is a matter of faith, and the Church cannot be mistaken in matters of faith.
Q. 580. Why have the Sacraments been instituted?
A. The Sacraments have been instituted as a special means through which we are to receive the grace merited for us by Christ. As Christ is the giver of the grace, He has the right to determine the manner in which it shall be given, and one who refuses to make use of the Sacraments will not receive God's grace.
Q. 581. Do the Sacraments recall in any way the means by which Our Lord merited the graces we receive through them?
A. The Sacraments recall in many ways the means by which Our Lord merited the graces we receive through them. Baptism recalls His profound humility; Confirmation His ceaseless prayer; Holy Eucharist His care of the needy; Penance His mortified life; Extreme Unction His model death; Holy Orders His establishment of the priesthood, and Matrimony His close union with the Church.
Q. 582. Give, for example, the outward sign in Baptism and Confirmation.
A. The outward sign in Baptism is the pouring of the water and the saying of the words of Baptism. The outward sign in Confirmation is the anointing with oil, the saying of the words of Confirmation and the placing of the bishop's hands over the person he confirms.
Q. 583. What is the use of the outward signs in the Sacraments?
A. Without the outward signs in the Sacraments we could not know when or with what effect the grace of the Sacraments enters into our souls.
Q. 584. Does the outward sign merely indicate that grace has been given, or does the use of the outward sign with the proper intention also give the grace of the Sacrament?
A. The outward sign is not used merely to indicate that grace has been given, for the use of the outward sign with the proper intention also gives the grace of the Sacrament. Hence the right application of the outward sign is always followed by the gift of internal grace if the Sacrament be administered with the right intention and received with the right dispositions.
Q. 585. What do we mean by the "right intention" for the administration of the Sacraments?
A. By the right intention for the administration of the Sacraments we mean that whoever administers a Sacrament must have the intention of doing what Christ intended when He instituted the Sacrament and what the Church intends when it administers the Sacrament.
Q. 586. Is there any likeness between the thing used in the outward sign and the grace given in each Sacrament?A. There is a great likeness between the thing used in the outward sign and the grace given in each Sacrament; thus water is used for cleansing; Baptism cleanses the soul; Oil gives strength and light; Confirmation strengthens and enlightens the soul; Bread and wine nourish; the Holy Eucharist nourishes the soul.
Q. 587. What do we mean by the "matter and form" of the Sacraments?
A. By the "matter" of the Sacraments we mean the visible things, such as water, oil, bread, wine, etc., used for the Sacraments. By the "form" we mean the words, such as "I baptize thee," "I confirm thee," etc., used in giving or administering the Sacraments.
Q. 588. Do the needs of the soul resemble the needs of the body?
A. The needs of the soul do resemble the needs of the body; for the body must be born, strengthened, nourished, healed in affliction, helped at the hour of death, guided by authority, and given a place in which to dwell. The soul is brought into spiritual life by Baptism; it is strengthened by Confirmation; nourished by the Holy Eucharist; healed by Penance; helped at the hour of our death by Extreme Unction; guided by God's ministers through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and it is given a body in which to dwell by the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Q. 589. Whence have the Sacraments the power of giving grace?
A. The Sacraments have the power of giving grace from the merits of Jesus Christ.
Q. 590. Does the effect of the Sacraments depend on the worthiness or unworthiness of the one who administers them?
A. The effect of the Sacraments does not depend on the worthiness or unworthiness of the one who administers them, but on the merits of Jesus Christ, who instituted them, and on the worthy dispositions of those who receive them.
Q. 591. What grace do the Sacraments give?
A. Some of the Sacraments give sanctifying grace, and others increase it in our souls.
Q. 592. When is a Sacrament said to give, and when is it said to increase, grace in our souls?
A. A Sacrament is said to give grace when there is no grace whatever in the soul, or in other words, when the soul is in mortal sin. A Sacrament is said to increase grace when there is already grace in the soul, to which more is added by the Sacrament received.
Q. 593. Which are the Sacraments that give sanctifying grace?
A. The Sacraments that give sanctifying grace are Baptism and Penance; and they are called Sacraments of the dead.
Q. 594. Why are Baptism and Penance called Sacraments of the dead?
A. Baptism and Penance are called Sacraments of the dead because they take away sin, which is the death of the soul, and give grace, which is its life.
Q. 595. May not the Sacrament of Penance be received by one who is in a state of grace?
A. The Sacrament of Penance may be and very often is received by one who is in a state of grace, and when thus received it increases -- as the Sacraments of the living do -- the grace already in the soul.
Q. 596. Which are the Sacraments that increase sanctifying grace in our soul?
A. The Sacraments that increase sanctifying grace in our souls are: Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony; and they are called Sacraments of the living.
Q. 597. What do we mean by Sacraments of the dead and Sacraments of the living?
A. By the Sacraments of the dead we mean those Sacraments that may be lawfully received while the soul is in a state of mortal sin. By the Sacraments of the living we mean those Sacraments that can be lawfully received only while the soul is in a state of grace -- i.e., free from mortal sin. Living and dead do not refer here to the persons, but to the condition of the souls; for none of the Sacraments can be given to a dead person.
Q. 598. Why are Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony called Sacraments of the living?
A. Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are called Sacraments of the living because those who receive them worthily are already living the life of grace.
Q. 599. What sin does he commit who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin?
A. He who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin commits a sacrilege, which is a great sin, because it is an abuse of a sacred thing.
Q. 600. In what other ways besides the unworthy reception of the Sacraments may persons commit sacrilege?
A. Besides the unworthy reception of the Sacraments, persons may commit sacrilege by the abuse of a sacred person, place or thing; for example, by willfully wounding a person consecrated to God; by robbing or destroying a Church; by using the sacred vessels of the Altar for unlawful purposes, etc.
Q. 601. Besides sanctifying grace do the Sacraments give any other grace?
A. Besides sanctifying grace the Sacraments give another grace, called sacramental grace.
Q. 602. What is sacramental grace?
A. Sacramental grace is a special help which God gives, to attain the end for which He instituted each Sacrament.
Q. 603. Is the Sacramental grace independent of the sanctifying grace given in the Sacraments?
A. The Sacramental grace is not independent of the sanctifying grace given in the Sacraments; for it is the sanctifying grace that gives us a certain right to special helps -- called Sacramental grace -- in each Sacrament, as often as we have to fulfill the end of the Sacrament or are tempted against it.
Q. 604. Give an example of how the Sacramental grace aids us, for instance, in Confirmation and Penance.
A. The end of Confirmation is to strengthen us in our faith. When we are tempted to deny our religion by word or deed, the Sacramental Grace of Confirmation is given to us and helps us to cling to our faith and firmly profess it. The end of Penance is to destroy actual sin. When we are tempted to sin, the Sacramental Grace of Penance is given to us and helps us to overcome the temptation and persevere in a state of grace. The sacramental grace in each of the other Sacraments is given in the same manner, and aids us in attaining the end for which each Sacrament was instituted and for which we receive it.
Q. 605. Do the Sacraments always give grace?
A. The Sacraments always give grace, if we receive them with the right dispositions.
Q. 606. What do we mean by the "right dispositions" for the reception of the Sacraments?
A. By the right dispositions for the reception of the Sacraments we mean the proper motives and the fulfillment of all the conditions required by God and the Church for the worthy reception of the Sacraments.
Q. 607. Give an example of the "right dispositions" for Penance and for the Holy Eucharist.
A. The right dispositions for Penance are:
- To confess all our mortal sins as we know them;
- To be sorry for them, and
- To have the determination never to commit them or others again.
The right dispositions for the Holy Eucharist are:
- To know what the Holy Eucharist is;
- To be in a state of grace, and
- -- except in special cases of sickness -- to be fasting from midnight.
Q. 608. Can we receive the Sacraments more than once?
A. We can receive the Sacraments more than once, except Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
Q. 609. Why can we not receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders more than once?
A. We cannot receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders more than once, because they imprint a character in the soul.
Q. 610. What is the character which these Sacraments imprint in the soul?
A. The character which these Sacraments imprint in the soul is a spiritual mark which remains forever.
Q. 611. Does this character remain in the soul even after death?
A. This character remains in the soul even after death; for the honor and glory of those who are saved; for the shame and punishment of those who are lost.
Q. 612. Can the Sacraments be given conditionally?
A. The Sacraments can be given conditionally as often as we doubt whether they were properly given before, or whether they can be validly given now.
Q. 613. What do we mean by giving a Sacrament conditionally?
A. By giving a Sacrament conditionally we mean that the person administering the Sacrament intends to give it only in case it has not been given already or in case the person has the right dispositions for receiving it, though the dispositions cannot be discovered.
Q. 614. Give an example of how a Sacrament is given conditionally.
A. In giving Baptism, for instance, conditionally -- or what we call conditional Baptism -- the priest, instead of saying absolutely, as he does in ordinary Baptism: "I baptize thee," etc., says: "If you are not already baptized, or if you are capable of being baptized, I baptize thee," etc., thus stating the sole condition on which he intends to administer the Sacrament.
Q. 615. Which of the Sacraments are most frequently given conditionally?
A. The Sacraments most frequently given conditionally are Baptism, Penance and Extreme Unction; because in some cases it is difficult to ascertain whether these Sacraments have been given before or whether they have been validly given, or whether the person about to receive them has the right dispositions for them.
Q. 616. Name some of the more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the Sacraments conditionally.
A. Some of the more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the Sacraments conditionally are:
- When he receives converts into the Church and is not certain of their previous baptism, he must baptize them conditionally.
- When he is called -- as in cases of accident or sudden illness -- and doubts whether the person be alive or dead, or whether he should be given the Sacraments, he must give absolution and administer Extreme Unction conditionally.
Q. 617. What is the use and effect of giving the Sacraments conditionally?
A. The use of giving the Sacraments conditionally is that there may be no irreverence to the Sacraments in giving them to persons incapable or unworthy of receiving them; and yet that no one who is capable or worthy may be deprived of them. The effect is to supply the Sacrament where it is needed or can be given, and to withhold it where it is not needed or cannot be given.
Q. 618. What is the difference between the powers of a bishop and of a priest with regard to the administration of the Sacraments?
A. The difference between the powers of a bishop and of a priest with regard to the administration of the Sacraments is that a bishop can give all the Sacraments, while a priest cannot give Confirmation or Holy Orders.
Q. 619. Can a person receive all the Sacraments?
A. A person cannot, as a rule, receive all the Sacraments; for a woman cannot receive Holy Orders, and a man who receives priesthood is forbidden to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 14
LESSON FOURTEENTH: On Baptism
Q. 620. When was baptism instituted?
A. Baptism was instituted, very probably, about the time Our Lord was baptized by St. John, and its reception was commanded when after His resurrection Our Lord said to His Apostles: "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 621. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven.
Q. 622. What were persons called in the first ages of the Church who were being instructed and prepared for baptism?
A. Persons who were being instructed and prepared for baptism, in the first ages of the Church, were called catechumens, and they are frequently mentioned in Church history.
Q. 623. What persons are called heirs?
A. All persons who inherit or come lawfully into the possession of property or goods at the death of another, are called heirs.
Q. 624. Why, then, are we the heirs of Christ?
A. We are the heirs of Christ because at His death we came into the possession of God's friendship, of grace, and of the right to enter heaven, provided we comply with the conditions Our Lord has laid down for the gaining of this inheritance.
Q. 625. What conditions has Our Lord laid down for the gaining of this inheritance?
A. The conditions Our Lord has laid down for the gaining of this inheritance are: (1) That we receive, when possible, the Sacraments He has instituted; and (2) That we believe and practice all He has taught.
Q. 626. Did not St. John the Baptist institute the Sacrament of Baptism?
A. St. John the Baptist did not institute the Sacrament of Baptism, for Christ alone could institute a Sacrament. The baptism given by St. John had the effect of a Sacramental; that is, it did not of itself give grace, but prepared the way for it.
Q. 627. Are actual sins ever remitted by Baptism?
A. Actual sins and all the punishment due to them are remitted by Baptism, if the person baptized be guilty of any.
Q. 628. That actual sins may be remitted by baptism, is it necessary to be sorry for them?
A. That actual sins may be remitted by baptism it is necessary to be sorry for them, just as we must be when they are remitted by the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 629. What punishments are due to actual sins?
A. Two punishments are due to actual sins: one, called the eternal, is inflicted in hell; and the other, called the temporal, is inflicted in this world or in purgatory. The Sacrament of Penance remits or frees us from the eternal punishment and generally only from part of the temporal. Prayer, good works and indulgences in this world and the sufferings of purgatory in the next remit the remainder of the temporal punishment.
Q. 630. Why is there a double punishment attached to actual sins?
A. There is a double punishment attached to actual sins, because in their commission there is a double guilt: (1) Of insulting God and of turning away from Him; (2) Of depriving Him of the honor we owe Him, and of turning to His enemies.
Q. 631. Is Baptism necessary to salvation?
A. Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Q. 632. Where will persons go who -- such as infants -- have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?
A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.
Q. 633. Who can administer Baptism?
A. A priest is the ordinary minister of baptism; but in case of necessity anyone who has the use of reason may baptize.
Q. 634. What do we mean by the "ordinary minister" of a Sacrament?
A. By the "ordinary minister" of a Sacrament we mean the one who usually does administer the Sacrament, and who has always the right to do so.
Q. 635. Can a person who has not himself been baptized, and who does not even believe in the Sacrament of baptism, give it validly to another in case of necessity?
A. A person who has not himself been baptized, and who does not even believe in the Sacrament of baptism, can give it validly to another in case of necessity, provided:
- He has the use of reason;
- Knows how to give baptism, and
- Intends to do what the Church intends in the giving of the Sacrament. Baptism is so necessary that God affords every opportunity for its reception.
Q. 636. Why do the consequences of original sin, such as suffering, temptation, sickness, and death, remain after the sin has been forgiven in baptism?
A. The consequences of original sin, such as suffering, temptation, sickness and death, remain after the sin has been forgiven in baptism: (1) To remind us of the misery that always follows sin; and (2) To afford us an opportunity of increasing our merit by bearing these hardships patiently.
Q. 637. Can a person ever receive any of the other Sacraments without first receiving baptism?
A. A person can never receive any of the other Sacraments without first receiving baptism, because baptism makes us members of Christ's Church, and unless we are members of His Church we cannot receive His Sacraments.
Q. 638. How is Baptism given?
A. Whoever baptizes should pour water on the head of the person to be baptized, and say, while pouring the water: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 639. If water cannot be had, in case of necessity, may any other liquid be used for baptism?
A. If water cannot be had, in case of necessity or in any case, no other liquid can be used, and the baptism cannot be given.
Q. 640. If it is impossible, in case of necessity, to reach the head, may the water be poured on any other part of the body?
A. If it is impossible, in case of necessity, to reach the head, the water should be poured on whatever part of the body can be reached; but then the baptism must be given conditionally; that is, before pronouncing the words of baptism, you must say: "If I can baptize thee in this way, I baptize thee in the name of the Father," etc. If the head can afterward be reached, the water must be poured on the head and the baptism repeated conditionally by saying: "If you are not already baptized, I baptize thee in the name," etc.
Q. 641. Is the baptism valid if we say: "I baptize thee in the name of the Holy Trinity," without naming the Persons of the Trinity?
A. The baptism is not valid if we say: "I baptize thee in the name of the Holy Trinity," without naming the Persons of the Trinity; for we must use the exact words instituted by Christ.
Q. 642. Is it wrong to defer the baptism of an infant?
A. It is wrong to defer the baptism of an infant, because we thereby expose the child to the danger of dying without the Sacrament.
Q. 643. Can we baptize a child against the wishes of its parents?
A. We cannot baptize a child against the wishes of its parents; and if the parents are not Catholics, they must not only consent to the baptism, but also agree to bring the child up in the Catholic religion. But if a child is surely dying, we may baptize it without either the consent or permission of its parents.
Q. 644. How many kinds of Baptism are there?
A. There are three kinds of Baptism: 1.Baptism of water, of desire, and of blood.
Q. 645. What is Baptism of water?
A. Baptism of water is that which is given by pouring water on the head of the person to be baptized, and saying at the same time, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 646. In how many ways was the baptism of water given in the first ages of the Church?
A. In the first ages of the Church, baptism of water was given in three ways, namely, by immersion or dipping, by aspersion or sprinkling, and by infusion or pouring. Although any of these methods would be valid, only the method of infusion or pouring is now allowed in the Church.
Q. 647. What are the chief ceremonies used in solemn baptism, and what do they signify?
A. The chief ceremonies used in solemn baptism are:
- A profession of faith and renouncement of the devil to signify our worthiness;
- The placing of salt in the mouth to signify the wisdom imparted by faith;
- The holding of the priest's stole to signify our reception into the Church;
- The anointing to signify the strength given by the Sacrament;
- The giving of the white garment or cloth to signify our sinless state after baptism; and
- The giving of the lighted candle to signify the light of faith and fire of love that should dwell in our souls.
Q. 648. Should one who, in case of necessity, has been baptized with private baptism, be afterwards brought to the Church to have the ceremonies of solemn baptism completed?
A. One who, in case of necessity, has been baptized with private baptism should afterwards be brought to the Church to have the ceremonies of solemn baptism completed, because these ceremonies are commanded by the Church and bring down blessings upon us.
Q. 649. Is solemn baptism given with any special kind of water?
A. Solemn baptism is given with consecrated water; that is, water mixed with holy oil and blessed for baptism on Holy Saturday and on the Saturday before Pentecost. It is always kept in the baptismal font in the baptistry -- a place near the door of the Church set apart for baptism.
Q. 650. What is Baptism of desire?
A. Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained for our salvation.
Q. 651. What is Baptism of blood?
A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of one's blood for the faith of Christ.
Q. 652. What is the baptism of blood most commonly called?
A. The baptism of blood is most commonly called martyrdom, and those who receive it are called martyrs. It is the death one patiently suffers from the enemies of our religion, rather than give up Catholic faith or virtue. We must not seek martyrdom, though we must endure it when it comes.
Q. 653. Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to produce the effects of Baptism of water?
A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.
Q. 654. How do we know that the baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water?
A. We know that baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water, from Holy Scripture, which teaches that love of God and perfect contrition can secure the remission of sins ; and also that Our Lord promises salvation to those who lay down their life for His sake or for His teaching.
Q. 655. What do we promise in Baptism?
A. In Baptism we promise to renounce the devil, with all his works and pomps.
Q. 656. What do we mean by the "pomps" of the devil?
A. By the pomps of the devil we mean all worldly pride, vanities and vain shows by which people are enticed into sin, and all foolish or sinful display of ourselves or of what we possess.
Q. 657. Why is the name of a saint given in Baptism?
A. The name of a saint is given in Baptism in order that the person baptized may imitate his virtues and have him for a protector.
Q. 658. What is the Saint whose name we bear called?
A. The saint whose name we bear is called our patron saint -- to whom we should have great devotion.
Q. 659. What names should never be given in baptism?
A. These and similar names should never be given in baptism:
- The names of noted unbelievers, heretics or enemies of religion and virtue;
- The names of heathen gods, and
Q. 660. Why are godfathers and godmothers given in Baptism?
A. Godfathers and godmothers are given in Baptism in order that they may promise, in the name of the child, what the child itself would promise if it had the use of reason.
Q. 661. By what other name are godfathers and godmothers called?
A. Godfathers and godmothers are usually called sponsors. Sponsors are not necessary at private baptism.
Q. 662. Can a person ever be sponsor when absent from the baptism?
A. A person can be sponsor even when absent from the baptism, provided he has been asked and has consented to be sponsor, and provided also some one answers the questions and touches the person to be baptized in his name. The absent godfather or godmother is then said to be sponsor by proxy and becomes the real godparent of the one baptized.
Q. 663. With whom do godparents, as well as the one baptizing, contract a relationship?
A. Godparents, as well as the one baptizing, contract a spiritual relationship with the person baptized (not with his parents), and this relationship is an impediment to marriage that must be made known to the priest in case of their future marriage with one another. The godfather and godmother contract no relationship with each other.
Q. 664. What questions should persons who bring a child for baptism be able to answer?
A. Persons who bring a child for baptism should be able to tell:
- The exact place where the child lives;
- The full name of its parents, and, in particular, the maiden name, or name before her marriage, of its mother;
- The exact day of the month on which it was born;
- Whether or not it has received private baptism, and
- Whether its parents be Catholics. Sponsors must know also the chief truths of our religion.
Q. 665. What is the obligation of a godfather and a godmother?
A. The obligation of a godfather and a godmother is to instruct the child in its religious duties, if the parents neglect to do so or die.
Q. 666. Can persons who are not Catholics be sponsors for Catholic children?
A. Persons who are not Catholics cannot be sponsors for Catholic children, because they cannot perform the duties of sponsors; for if they do not know and profess the Catholic religion themselves, how can they teach it to their godchildren? Moreover, they must answer the questions asked at baptism and declare that they believe in the Holy Catholic Church and in all it teaches; which would be a falsehood on their part.
Q. 667. What should parents chiefly consider in the selection of sponsors for their children?
A. In the selection of sponsors for their children parents should chiefly consider the good character and virtue of the sponsors, selecting model Catholics to whom they would be willing at the hour of death to entrust the care and training of their children.
Q. 668. What dispositions must adults or grown persons, have that they may worthily receive baptism?
A. That adults may worthily receive baptism:
- They must be willing to receive it;
- They must have faith in Christ;
- They must have true sorrow for their sins, and
- They must solemnly renounce the devil and all his works; that is, all sin.
Q. 669. What is the ceremony of churching?
A. The ceremony of churching is a particular blessing which a mother receives at the Altar, as soon as she is able to present herself in the Church after the birth of her child. In this ceremony the priest invokes God's blessing on the mother and child, while she on her part returns thanks to God.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 15
LESSON FIFTEENTH: On Confirmation
Q. 670. What is Confirmation?
A. Confirmation is a Sacrament through which we receive the Holy Ghost to make us strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Q. 671. When was Confirmation instituted?
A. The exact time at which Confirmation was instituted is not known. But as this Sacrament was administered by the Apostles and numbered with the other Sacraments instituted by Our Lord, it is certain that He instituted this Sacrament also and instructed His Apostles in its use, at some time before His ascension into heaven.
Q. 672. Why is Confirmation so called?
A. Confirmation is so called from its chief effect, which is to strengthen or render us more firm in whatever belongs to our faith and religious duties.
Q. 673. Why are we called soldiers of Jesus Christ?
A. We are called soldiers of Jesus Christ to indicate how we must resist the attacks of our spiritual enemies and secure our victory over them by following and obeying Our Lord.
Q. 674. May one add a new name to his own at Confirmation?
A. One may and should add a new name to his own at Confirmation, especially when the name of a saint has not been given in Baptism.
Q. 675. Who administers Confirmation?
A. The bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation.
Q. 676. Why do we say the bishop is the "ordinary minister" of Confirmation?
A. We say the bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation because in some foreign missions, where bishops have not yet been appointed, the Holy Father permits one of the priests to administer Confirmation with the Holy Oil blessed by the bishop.
Q. 677. How does the bishop give Confirmation?
A. The bishop extends his hands over those who are to be confirmed, prays that they may receive the Holy Ghost, and anoints the forehead of each with holy chrism in the form of a cross.
Q. 678. In Confirmation, what does the extending of the bishop's hands over us signify?
A. In Confirmation, the extending of the bishop's hands over us signifies the descent of the Holy Ghost upon us and the special protection of God through the grace of Confirmation.
Q. 679. What is holy chrism?
A. Holy chrism is a mixture of olive-oil and balm, consecrated by the bishop.
Q. 680. What do the oil and balm in Holy Chrism signify?
A. In Holy Chrism, the oil signifies strength, and the balm signifies the freedom from corruption and the sweetness which virtue must give to our lives.
Q. 681. How many holy oils are used in the Church?
A. Three holy oils are used in the Church, namely, the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens, and holy chrism.
Q. 682. What constitutes the difference between these oils?
A. The form of prayer or blessing alone constitutes the difference between these oils; for they are all olive oil, but in the Holy Chrism, balm is mixed with the oil.
Q. 683. When and by whom are the holy oils blessed?
A. The holy oils are blessed at the Mass on Holy Thursday by the bishop, who alone has the right to bless them. After the blessing they are distributed to the priests of the diocese, who must then burn what remains of the old oils and use the newly blessed oils for the coming year.
Q. 684. For what are the holy oils used?
A. The holy oils are used as follows: The oil of the sick is used for Extreme Unction and for some blessings; the oil of catechumens is used for Baptism and Holy Orders. Holy Chrism is used at Baptism and for the blessing of some sacred things, such as altars, chalices, church-bells, etc., which are usually blessed by a bishop.
Q. 685. What does the bishop say in anointing the person he confirms?
A. In anointing the person he confirms the bishop says: "I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 686. What is meant by anointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross?
A. By anointing the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross is meant that the Christian who is confirmed must openly profess and practice his faith, never be ashamed of it; and rather die than deny it.
Q. 687. When must we openly profess and practice our religion?
A. We must openly profess and practice our religion as often as we cannot do otherwise without violating some law of God or of His Church.
Q. 688. Why have we good reason never to be ashamed of the Catholic faith?
A. We have good reason never to be ashamed of the Catholic Faith because it is the Old Faith established by Christ and taught by His Apostles; it is the Faith for which countless Holy Martyrs suffered and died; it is the Faith that has brought true civilization, with all its benefits, into the world, and it is the only Faith that can truly reform and preserve public and private morals.
Q. 689. Why does the bishop give the person he confirms a slight blow on the cheek?
A. The bishop gives the person he confirms a slight blow on the cheek, to put him in mind that he must be ready to suffer everything, even death, for the sake of Christ.
Q. 690. Is it right to test ourselves through our imagination of what we would be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ?
A. It is not right to test ourselves through our imagination of what we would be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ, for such tests may lead us into sin. When a real test comes we are assured God will give to us, as He did to the Holy Martyrs, sufficient grace to endure it.
Q. 691. To receive Confirmation worthily is it necessary to be in the state of grace?
A. To receive Confirmation worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace.
Q. 692. What special preparation should be made to receive Confirmation?
A. Persons of an age to learn should know the chief mysteries of faith and the duties of a Christian, and be instructed in the nature and effects of this Sacrament.
Q. 693. Why should we know the chief mysteries of faith and the duties of a Christian before receiving Confirmation?
A. We should know the Chief Mysteries of Faith and the duties of a Christian before receiving Confirmation because as one cannot be a good soldier without knowing the rules of the army to which he belongs and understanding the commands of his leader, so one cannot be a good Christian without knowing the laws of the Church and understanding the commands of Christ.
Q. 694. Is it a sin to neglect Confirmation?
A. It is a sin to neglect Confirmation, especially in these evil days when faith and morals are exposed to so many and such violent temptations.
Q. 695. What do we mean by "these evil days"?
A. By "these evil days" we mean the present age or century in which we are living, surrounded on all sides by unbelief, false doctrines, bad books, bad example and temptation in every form.
Q. 696. Is Confirmation necessary for salvation?
A. Confirmation is not so necessary for salvation that we could not be saved without it, for it is not given to infants even in danger of death; nevertheless, there is a divine command obliging all to receive it, if possible. Persons who have not been confirmed in youth should make every effort to be confirmed later in life.
Q. 697. Are sponsors necessary in Confirmation?
A. Sponsors are necessary in Confirmation, and they must be of the same good character as those required at Baptism, for they take upon themselves the same duties and responsibilities. They also contract a spiritual relationship, which, however, unlike that in Baptism, is not an impediment to marriage.
Q. 698. Which are the effects of Confirmation?
A. The effects of Confirmation are an increase of sanctifying grace, the strengthening of our faith, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 16
LESSON SIXTEENTH: On the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Ghost
Q. 699. Which are the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
A. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
Q. 700. Why do we receive the gift of Fear of the Lord?
A. We receive the gift of Fear of the Lord to fill us with a dread of sin.
Q. 701. Why do we receive the gift of Piety?
A. We receive the gift of Piety to make us love God as a Father, and obey Him because we love Him.
Q. 702. Why do we receive the gift of Knowledge?
A. We receive the gift of Knowledge to enable us to discover the will of God in all things.
Q. 703. Why do we receive the gift of Fortitude?
A. We receive the gift of Fortitude to strengthen us to do the will of God in all things.
Q. 704. Why do we receive the gift of Counsel?
A. We receive the gift of Counsel to warn us of the deceits of the devil, and of the dangers to salvation.
Q. 705. How is it clear that the devil could easily deceive us if the Holy Ghost did not aid us?
A. It is clear that the devil could easily deceive us if the Holy Ghost did not aid us, for just as our sins do not deprive us of our knowledge, so the devil's sin did not deprive him of the great intelligence and power which he possessed as an angel. Moreover, his experience in the world extends over all ages and places, while ours is confined to a few years and to a limited number of places.
Q. 706. Why do we receive the gift of Understanding?
A. We receive the gift of Understanding to enable us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith.
Q. 707. Why do we receive the gift of Wisdom?
A. We receive the gift of Wisdom to give us a relish for the things of God, and to direct our whole life and all our actions to His honor and glory.
Q. 708. Which are the Beatitudes?
A. The Beatitudes are:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.
- Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Q. 709. What are the Beatitudes and why are they so called?
A. The Beatitudes are a portion of Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and they are so called because each of them holds out a promised reward to those who practice the virtues they recommend.
Q. 710. Where did Our Lord usually preach?
A. Our Lord usually preached wherever an opportunity of doing good by His Words presented itself. He preached at times in the synagogues or meeting-houses but more frequently in the open air -- by the seashore or on the mountain, and often by the wayside.
Q. 711. What is the meaning and use of the Beatitudes in general?
- In general the Beatitudes embrace whatever pertains to the perfection of Christian life, and they invite us to the practice of the highest Christian virtues.
- In different forms they all promise the same reward, namely, sanctifying grace in this life and eternal glory in the next.
- They offer us encouragement and consolation for every trial and affliction.
Q. 712. What does the first Beatitude mean by the "poor in spirit"?
A. The first Beatitude means by the "poor in spirit" all persons, rich or poor, who would not offend God to possess or retain anything that this world can give; and who, when necessity or charity requires it, give willingly for the glory of God. It includes also those who humbly submit to their condition in life when it cannot be improved by lawful means.
Q. 713. Who are the mourners who deserve the consolation promised in the third Beatitude?
A. The mourners who deserve the consolation promised in the third Beatitude are they who, out of love for God, bewail their own sins and those of the world; and they who patiently endure all trials that come from God or for His sake.
Q. 714. What lessons do the other Beatitudes convey?
A. The other Beatitudes convey these lessons: The meek suppress all feelings of anger and humbly submit to whatever befalls them by the Will of God; and they never desire to do evil for evil. The justice after which we should seek is every Christian virtue included under that name, and we are told that if we earnestly desire and seek it we shall obtain it. The persecuted for justice' sake are they who will not abandon their faith or virtue for any cause.
Q. 715. Who may be rightly called merciful?
A. The merciful are they who practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and who aid by word or deed those who need their help for soul or body.
Q. 716. Why are the clean of heart promised so great a reward?
A. The clean of heart, that is, the truly virtuous, whose thoughts, desires, words and works are pure and modest, are promised so great a reward because the chaste and sinless have always been the most intimate friends of God.
Q. 717. What is the duty of a peacemaker?
A. It is the duty of a peacemaker to avoid and prevent quarrels, reconcile enemies, and to put an end to all evil reports of others or evil speaking against them. As peacemakers are called the children of God, disturbers of peace should be called the children of the devil.
Q. 718. Why does Our Lord speak in particular of poverty, meekness, sorrow, desire for virtue, mercy, purity, peace and suffering?
A. Our Lord speaks in particular of poverty, meekness, sorrow, desire for virtue, mercy, purity, peace and suffering because these are the chief features in His own earthly life; poverty in His birth, life and death; meekness in His teaching; sorrow at all times. He eagerly sought to do good, showed mercy to all, recommended chastity, brought peace, and patiently endured suffering.
Q. 719. Which are the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost?
A. The twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost are Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continency, and Chastity.
Q. 720. Why are charity, joy, peace, etc., called fruits of the Holy Ghost?
A. Charity, joy, peace, etc., are called fruits of the Holy Ghost because they grow in our souls out of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 17
LESSON SEVENTEENTH: On the Sacrament of Penance
Q. 721. What is the Sacrament of Penance?
A. Penance is a Sacrament in which the sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.
Q. 722. Has the word Penance any other meaning?
A. The word Penance has other meanings. It means also those punishments we inflict upon ourselves as a means of atoning for our past sins; it means likewise that disposition of the heart in which we detest and bewail our sins because they were offensive to God.
Q. 723. How does the institution of the Sacrament of Penance show the goodness of Our Lord?
A. The institution of the Sacrament of Penance shows the goodness of Our Lord, because having once saved us through Baptism, He might have left us to perish if we again committed sin.
Q. 724. What are the natural benefits of the Sacrament of Penance?
A. The natural benefits of the Sacrament of Penance are: It gives us in our confessor a true friend, to whom we can go in all our trials and to whom we can confide our secrets with the hope of obtaining advice and relief.
Q. 725. How does the Sacrament of Penance remit sin, and restore to the soul the friendship of God?
A. The Sacrament of Penance remits sin and restores the friendship of God to the soul by means of the absolution of the priest.
Q. 726. What is Absolution?
A. Absolution is the form of prayer or words the priest pronounces over us with uplifted hand when he forgives the sins we have confessed. It is given while we are saying the Act of Contrition after receiving our Penance.
Q. 727. Does the priest ever refuse absolution to a penitent?
A. The priest must and does refuse absolution to a penitent when he thinks the penitent is not rightly disposed for the Sacrament. He sometimes postpones the absolution till the next confession, either for the good of the penitent or for the sake of better preparation -- especially when the person has been a long time from confession.
Q. 728. What should a person do when the priest has refused or postponed absolution?
A. When the priest has refused or postponed absolution, the penitent should humbly submit to his decision, follow his instructions, and endeavor to remove whatever prevented the giving of the absolution and return to the same confessor with the necessary dispositions and resolution of amendment.
Q. 729. Can the priest forgive all sins in the Sacrament of Penance?
A. The priest has the power to forgive all sins in the Sacrament of Penance, but he may not have the authority to forgive all. To forgive sins validly in the Sacrament of Penance, two things are required:
- The power to forgive sins which every priest receives at his ordination, and
- The right to use that power which must be given by the bishop, who authorizes the priest to hear confessions and pass judgment on the sins.
Q. 730. What are the sins called which the priest has no authority to absolve?
A. The sins which the priest has no authority to absolve are called reserved sins. Absolution from these sins can be obtained only from the bishop, and sometimes only from the Pope, or by his special permission. Persons having a reserved sin to confess cannot be absolved from any of their sins till the priest receives faculties or authority to absolve the reserved sin also.
Q. 731. Why is the absolution from some sins reserved to the Pope or bishop?
A. The absolution from some sins is reserved to the Pope or bishop to deter or prevent, by this special restriction, persons from committing them, either on account of the greatness of the sin itself or on account of its evil consequences.
Q. 732. Can any priest absolve a person in danger of death from reserved sins without the permission of the bishop?
A. Any priest can absolve a person in danger of death from reserved sins without the permission of the bishop, because at the hour of death the Church removes these restrictions in order to save, if possible, the soul of the dying.
Q. 733. How do you know that the priest has the power of absolving from the sins committed after Baptism?
A. I know that the priest has the power of absolving from the sins committed after Baptism, because Jesus Christ granted that power to the priests of His Church when He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."
Q. 734. How do we know that Our Lord, while on earth, had the power to forgive sins?
A. We know that Our Lord, while on earth, had the power to forgive sins:
- Because He was always God, and;
- Because He frequently did forgive sins and proved their forgiveness by miracles. Since He had the power Himself, He could give it to His Apostles.
Q. 735. Was the power to forgive sins given to the apostles alone?
A. The power to forgive sins was not given to the apostles alone, because it was not given for the benefit merely of those who lived at the time of the apostles, but for all who, having grievously sinned, after Baptism, should need forgiveness. Since, therefore, Baptism will be given till the end of time, and since the danger of sinning after it always remains the power to absolve from such sins must also remain in the Church till the end of time.
Q. 736. When was the Sacrament of Penance instituted?
A. The Sacrament of Penance was instituted after the resurrection of Our Lord, when He gave to His apostles the power to forgive sins, which He had promised to them before His death.
Q. 737. Are the enemies of our religion right when they say man cannot forgive sins?
A. The enemies of our religion are right when they say man cannot forgive sins if they mean that he cannot forgive them by his own power, but they are certainly wrong if they mean that he cannot forgive them even by the power of God, for man can do anything if God gives him the power. The priest does not forgive sins by his own power as man, but by the authority he receives as the minister of God.
Q. 738. How do the priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins?
A. The priests of the Church exercise the power of forgiving sins by hearing the confession of sins, and granting pardon for them as ministers of God and in His name.
Q. 739. How does the power to forgive sins imply the obligation of going to confession?
A. The power to forgive sins implies the obligation of going to confession because as sins are usually committed secretly, the priest could never know what sins to forgive and what not to forgive, unless the sins committed were made known to him by the persons guilty of them.
Q. 740. Could God not forgive our sins if we confessed them to Himself in secret?
A. Certainly, God could forgive our sins if we confessed them to Himself in secret, but He has not promised to do so; whereas He has promised to pardon them if we confess them to His priests. Since He is free to pardon or not to pardon, He has the right to establish a Sacrament through which alone He will pardon.
Q. 741. What must we do to receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily?
A. To receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily we must do five things:
- We must examine our conscience.
- We must have sorrow for our sins.
- We must make a firm resolution never more to offend God.
- We must confess our sins to the priest.
- We must accept the penance which the priest gives us.
Q. 742. What should we pray for in preparing for confession?
A. In preparing for confession we should pray to the Holy Ghost to give us light to know our sins and to understand their guilt; for grace to detest them; for courage to confess them and for strength to keep our resolutions.
Q. 743. What faults do many commit in preparing for confession?
A. In preparing for confession many commit the faults:
- Of giving too much time to the examination of conscience and little or none in exciting themselves to true sorrow for the sins discovered;
- Of trying to recall every trifling circumstance, instead of thinking of the means by which they will avoid their sins for the future.
Q. 744. What, then, is the most important part of the preparation for confession?
A. The most important part of the preparation for confession is sincere sorrow for the sins committed and the firm determination to avoid them for the future.
Q. 745. What is the chief reason that our confessions do not always amend our way of living?
A. The chief reason that our confessions do not always amend our way of living is our want of real earnest preparation for them and the fact that we have not truly convinced ourselves of the need of amendment. We often confess our sins more from habit, necessity or fear than from a real desire of receiving grace and of being restored to the friendship of God.
Q. 746. What faults are to be avoided in making our confession?
A. In making our confession we are to avoid:
- Telling useless details, the sins of others, or the name of any person;
- Confessing sins we are not sure of having committed; exaggerating our sins or their number; multiplying the number of times a day by the number of days to get the exact number of habitual sins;
- Giving a vague answer, such as "sometimes," when asked how often; waiting after each sin to be asked for the next;
- Hesitating over sins through pretended modesty and thus delaying the priests and others; telling the exact words in each when we have committed several sins of the same kind, cursing, for example; and, lastly, leaving the confessional before the priest gives us a sign to go.
Q. 747. Is it wrong to go to confession out of your turn against the will of others waiting with you?
A. It is wrong to go to confession out of our turn against the will of others waiting with us, because:
- It causes disorder, quarreling and scandalous conduct in the Church;
- It is unjust, makes others angry and lessens their good dispositions for confession;
- It annoys and distracts the priest by the confusion and disorder it creates. It is better to wait than go to confession in an excited and disorderly manner.
Q. 748. What should a penitent do who knows he cannot perform the penance given?
A. A penitent who knows he cannot perform the penance given should ask the priest for one that he can perform. When we forget the penance given we must ask for it again, for we cannot fulfill our duty by giving ourselves a penance. The penance must be performed at the time and in the manner the confessor directs.
Q. 749. What is the examination of conscience?
A. The examination of conscience is an earnest effort to recall to mind all the sins we have committed since our last worthy confession.
Q. 750. When is our confession worthy?
A. Our confession is worthy when we have done all that is required for a good confession, and when, through the absolution, our sins are really forgiven.
Q. 751. How can we make a good examination of conscience?
A. We can make a good examination of conscience by calling to memory the commandments of God, the precepts of the Church, the seven capital sins, and the particular duties of our state in life, to find out the sins we have committed.
Q. 752. What should we do before beginning the examination of conscience?
A. Before beginning the examination of conscience we should pray to God to give us light to know our sins and grace to detest them.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 18
LESSON EIGHTEENTH: On Contrition
Q. 753. What is contrition, or sorrow for sin?
A. Contrition, or sorrow for sin, is a hatred of sin and a true grief of the soul for having offended God, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.
Q. 754. Give an example of how we should hate and avoid sin.
A. We should hate and avoid sin as one hates and avoids a poison that almost caused his death. We may not grieve over the death of our soul as we do over the death of a friend, and yet our sorrow may be true; because the sorrow for sin comes more from our reason than from our feelings.
Q. 755. What kind of sorrow should we have for our sins?
A. The sorrow we should have for our sins should be interior, supernatural, universal, and sovereign.
Q. 756. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be interior?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be interior, I mean that it should come from the heart, and not merely from the lips.
Q. 757. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be supernatural?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be supernatural, I mean that it should be prompted by the grace of God, and excited by motives which spring from faith, and not by merely natural motives.
Q. 758. What do we mean by "motives that spring from faith" and by "merely natural motives" with regard to sorrow for sin?
A. By sorrow for sin from "motives that spring from faith," we mean sorrow for reasons that God has made known to us, such as the loss of heaven, the fear of hell or purgatory, or the dread of afflictions that come from God in punishment for sin. By "merely natural motives" we mean sorrow for reasons made known to us by our own experience or by the experience of others, such as loss of character, goods or health. A motive is whatever moves our will to do or avoid anything.
Q. 759. What do you mean by saying that our sorrow should be universal?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be universal, I mean that we should be sorry for all our mortal sins without exception.
Q. 760. Why cannot some of our mortal sins be forgiven while the rest remain on our souls?
A. It is impossible for any of our mortal sins to be forgiven unless they are all forgiven, because as light and darkness cannot be together in the same place, so sanctifying grace and mortal sin cannot dwell together. If there be grace in the soul, there can be no mortal sin, and if there be mortal sin, there can be no grace, for one mortal sin expels all grace.
Q. 761. What do you mean when you say that our sorrow should be sovereign?
A. When I say that our sorrow should be sovereign, I mean that we should grieve more for having offended God than for any other evil that can befall us.
Q. 762. Why should we be sorry for our sins?
A. We should be sorry for our sins because sin is the greatest of evils and an offense against God our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, and because it shuts us out of heaven and condemns us to the eternal pains of hell.
Q. 763. How do we show that sin is the greatest of all evils?
A. We show that sin is the greatest of evils because its effects last the longest and have the most terrible consequences. All the misfortunes of this world can last only for a time, and we escape them at death, whereas the evils caused by sin keep with us for all eternity and are only increased at death.
Q. 764. How many kinds of contrition are there?
A. There are two kinds of contrition; perfect contrition and imperfect contrition.
Q. 765. What is perfect contrition?
A. Perfect contrition is that which fills us with sorrow and hatred for sin, because it offends God, who is infinitely good in Himself and worthy of all love.
Q. 766. When will perfect contrition obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance?
A. Perfect contrition will obtain pardon for mortal sin without the Sacrament of Penance when we cannot go to confession, but with the perfect contrition we must have the intention of going to confession as soon as possible, if we again have the opportunity.
Q. 767. What is imperfect contrition?
A. Imperfect contrition is that by which we hate what offends God because by it we lose heaven and deserve hell; or because sin is so hateful in itself.
Q. 768. What other name is given to imperfect contrition and why is it called imperfect?
A. Imperfect contrition is called attrition. It is called imperfect only because it is less perfect than the highest grade of contrition by which we are sorry for sin out of pure love of God's own goodness and without any consideration of what befalls ourselves.
Q. 769. Is imperfect contrition sufficient for a worthy confession?
A. Imperfect contrition is sufficient for a worthy confession, but we should endeavor to have perfect contrition.
Q. 770. What do you mean by a firm purpose of sinning no more?
A. By a firm purpose of sinning no more I mean a fixed resolve not only to avoid all mortal sin, but also its near occasions.
Q. 771. What do you mean by the near occasions of sin?
A. By the near occasions of sin I mean all the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
Q. 772. Why are we bound to avoid occasions of sin?
A. We are bound to avoid occasions of sin because Our Lord has said: "He who loves the danger will perish in it"; and as we are bound to avoid the loss of our souls, so we are bound to avoid the danger of their loss. The occasion is the cause of sin, and you cannot take away the evil without removing its cause.
Q. 773. Is a person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, rightly disposed for confession?
A. A person who is determined to avoid the sin, but who is unwilling to give up its near occasion when it is possible to do so, is not rightly disposed for confession, and he will not be absolved if he makes known to the priest the true state of his conscience.
Q. 774. How many kinds of occasions of sin are there?
A. There are four kinds of occasions of sin:
- Near occasions, through which we always fall;
- Remote occasions, through which we sometimes fall;
- Voluntary occasions or those we can avoid; and
- Involuntary occasions or those we cannot avoid. A person who lives in a near and voluntary occasion of sin need not expect forgiveness while he continues in that state.
Q. 775. What persons, places and things are usually occasions of sin?
- The persons who are occasions of sin are all those in whose company we sin, whether they be bad of themselves or bad only while in our company, in which case we also become occasions of sin for them;
- The places are usually liquor saloons, low theaters, indecent dances, entertainments, amusements, exhibitions, and all immoral resorts of any kind, whether we sin in them or not;
- The things are all bad books, indecent pictures, songs, jokes and the like, even when they are tolerated by public opinion and found in public places.