A. Confession is the telling of our sins to a duly authorized priest, for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.
A. A duly authorized priest is one sent to hear confessions by the lawful bishop of the diocese in which we are at the time of our confession.
A. It is allowed, when necessary, to write our sins and read them to the priest, as persons do who have almost entirely lost their memory. It is also allowed to give the paper to the priest, as persons do who have lost the use of their speech. In such cases the paper must, after the confession, be carefully destroyed either by the priest or the penitent.
A. Persons who must make their confession and who cannot find a priest who understands their language, must confess as best they can by some signs, showing what sins they wish to confess and how they are sorry for them.
A. We are bound to confess all our mortal sins, but it is well also to confess our venial sins.
A. It is well to confess also the venial sins we remember: 1.(1) Because it shows our hatred of all sin, and 2.(2) Because it is sometimes difficult to determine just when a sin is venial and when mortal.
A. One who has only venial sins to confess should tell also some sin already confessed in his past life for which he knows he is truly sorry; because it is not easy to be truly sorry for slight sins and imperfections, and yet we must be sorry for the sins confessed that our confession may be valid -- hence we add some past sin for which we are truly sorry to those for which we may not be sufficiently sorry.
A. A person should not stay from confession because he thinks he has no sin to confess, for the Sacrament of Penance, besides forgiving sin, gives an increase of sanctifying grace, and of this we have always need, especially to resist temptation. The Saints, who were almost without imperfection, went to confession frequently.
A. A person should go to Communion after confession even when the confessor does not bid him go, because the confessor so intends unless he positively forbids his penitent to receive Communion. However, one who has not yet received his first Communion should not go to Communion after confession, even if the confessor by mistake should bid him go.
A. The chief qualities of a good Confession are three: it must be humble, sincere, and entire.
A. Our Confession is humble when we accuse ourselves of our sins, with a deep sense of shame and sorrow for having offended God.
A. Our Confession is sincere when we tell our sins honestly and truthfully, neither exaggerating nor excusing them.
A. It is wrong to accuse ourselves of sins we have not committed, because, by our so doing, the priest cannot know the true state of our souls, as he must do before giving us absolution.
A. Our Confession is entire when we tell the number and kinds of our sins and the circumstances which change their nature.
A. By the "kinds of sin," we mean the particular division or class to which the sins belong; that is, whether they be sins of blasphemy, disobedience, anger, impurity, dishonesty, etc. We can determine the kind of sin by discovering the commandment or precept of the Church we have broken or the virtue against which we have acted.
A. By "circumstances which change the nature of sins" we mean anything that makes it another kind of sin. Thus to steal is a sin, but to steal from the Church makes our theft sacrilegious. Again, impure actions are sins, but a person must say whether they were committed alone or with others, with relatives or strangers, with persons married or single, etc., because these circumstances change them from one kind of impurity to another.
A. If we cannot remember the number of our sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, and say how often we may have sinned in a day, a week, or a month, and how long the habit or practice has lasted.
A. If without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, our Confession is worthy, and the sin is forgiven; but it must be told in Confession if it again comes to our mind.
A. A person who has forgotten to tell a mortal sin in confession may go to communion before again going to confession, because the forgotten sin was forgiven with those confessed, and the confession was good and worthy.
A. It is a grievous offense willfully to conceal a mortal sin in Confession, because we thereby tell a lie to the Holy Ghost, and make our Confession worthless.
A. Concealing a sin is telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, because he who conceals the sin declares in confession to God and the priest that he committed no sins but what he has confessed, while the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, saw him committing the sin he now conceals and still sees it in his soul while he denies it.
A. It is foolish to conceal sins in confession:
A. He who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in Confession must not only confess it, but must also repeat all the sins he has committed since his last worthy Confession.
A. One who has willfully concealed a mortal sin in confession must, besides repeating all the sins he has committed since his last worthy confession, tell also how often he has unworthily received absolution and Holy Communion during the same time.
A. The priest gives us a penance after Confession, that we may satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to our sins.
A. Christ has fully satisfied for our sins and after our baptism we were free from all guilt and had no satisfaction to make. But when we willfully sinned after baptism, it is but just that we should be obliged to make some satisfaction.
A. The slight penance the priest gives us is not sufficient to satisfy for all the sins confessed:
A. The Sacrament of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for our sins.
A. God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin to teach us the great evil of sin and to prevent us from falling again.
A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving; all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.
A. The fasting imposed by the Church on certain days of the year, and particularly during Lent, has the greatest merit.
A. Lent is the forty days before Easter Sunday, during which we do penance, fast and pray to prepare ourselves for the resurrection of Our Lord; and also to remind us of His own fast of forty days before His Passion.
A. By almsgiving we mean money, goods, or assistance given to the poor or to charitable purposes. The law of God requires all persons to give alms in proportion to their means.
A. The ills of life that help to satisfy God for sin are sickness, poverty, misfortune, trial, affliction, etc., especially, when we have not brought them upon ourselves by sin.
A. The Christians in the first ages of the Church did public penance, especially for the sins of which they were publicly known to be guilty. Penitents were excluded for a certain time from Mass or the Sacrament, and some were obliged to stand at the door of the Church begging the prayers of those who entered.
A. These severe penances of the first ages of the Church were called canonical penances, because their kind and duration were regulated by the Canons or laws of the Church.
A. We can know spiritual from corporal works of mercy, for whatever we do for the soul is a spiritual work, and whatever we do for the body is a corporal work.
A. The chief spiritual works of mercy are seven: To admonish the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries, and to pray for the living and the dead.
A. We are bound to admonish the sinner when the following conditions are fulfilled:
A. By the ignorant we are to instruct and the doubtful we are to counsel, are meant those particularly who are ignorant of the truths of religion and those who are in doubt about matters of faith. We must aid such persons as far as we can to know and believe the truths necessary for salvation.
A. We are advised to bear wrongs patiently and to forgive all injuries, because, being Christians, we should imitate the example of Our Divine Lord, who endured wrongs patiently and who not only pardoned but prayed for those who injured Him.
A. Christians establish courts and prisons to punish wrongdoers, because the preservation of lawful authority, good order in society, the protection of others, and sometimes even the good of the guilty one himself, require that crimes be justly punished. As God Himself punishes crime and as lawful authority comes from Him, such authority has the right to punish, though individuals should forgive the injuries done to themselves personally.
A. It is a work of mercy to aid those who are unable to aid themselves. The living are exposed to temptations, and while in mortal sin they are deprived of the merit of their good works and need our prayers. The dead can in no way help themselves and depend on us for assistance.
A. The chief corporal works of mercy are seven: 1.To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to ransom the captive, to harbor the harborless, to visit the sick, and to bury the dead.
A. We may briefly state the corporal works of mercy by saying that we are obliged to help the poor in all their forms of want.
A. Christians are aided in the performance of works of mercy through the establishment of charitable institutions where religious communities of holy men or women perform these duties for us, provided we supply the necessary means by our almsgiving and good works.
A. Religious are self-sacrificing men and women who, wishing to follow more closely the teachings of Our Lord, dedicate their lives to the service of God and religion. They live together in societies approved by the Church, under a rule and guidance of a superior. They keep the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and divide their time between prayer and good works. The houses in which they dwell are called convents or monasteries, and the societies in which they live are called religious orders, communities or congregations.
A. There are many religious communities of priests, who, besides living according to the general laws of the Church, as all priests do, follow certain rules laid down for their community. Such priests are called the regular clergy, because living by rules to distinguish them from the secular clergy who live in their parishes under no special rule. The chief work of the regular clergy is to teach in colleges and give missions and retreats.
A. There are many different religious communities:
- Because all religious are not fitted for the same work, and
- Because they desire to imitate Our Lord's life on earth as perfectly as possible; and when each community takes one of Christ's works and seeks to become perfect in it, the union of all their works continues as perfectly as we can the works He began upon earth.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 20
LESSON TWENTIETH: On the Manner of Making a Good Confession
Q. 825. What should we do on entering the confessional?
A. On entering the confessional we should kneel, make the sign of the Cross, and say to the priest, "Bless me, father"; then add, "I confess to Almighty God and to you, father, that I have sinned."
Q. 826. Which are the first things we should tell the priest in Confession?
A. The first things we should tell the priest in Confession are the time of our last Confession, and whether we said the penance and went to Holy Communion.
Q. 827. Should we tell anything else in connection with our last confession?
A. In connection with our last confession we should tell also what restrictions -- if any -- were placed upon us with regard to our occasions of sin, and what obligations with regard to the payment of debts, restitution, injuries done to others and the like, we were commanded to fulfill.
Q. 828. After telling the time of our last Confession and Communion what should we do?
A. After telling the time of our last Confession and Communion we should confess all the mortal sins we have since committed, and all the venial sins we may wish to mention.
Q. 829. What is a general confession?
A. A general confession is the telling of the sins of our whole life or a great part of it. It is made in the same manner as an ordinary confession, except that it requires more time and longer preparation.
Q. 830. When should a General Confession be made?
A. A general confession:
- Is necessary when we are certain that our past confessions were bad;
- It is useful on special occasions in our lives when some change in our way of living is about to take place;
- It is hurtful and must not be made when persons are scrupulous.
Q. 831. What are the signs of scruples and the remedy against them?
A. The signs of scruples are chiefly:
- To be always dissatisfied with our confessions;
- To be self-willed in deciding what is sinful and what is not. The chief remedy against them is to follow exactly the advice of the confessor without questioning the reason or utility of his advice.
Q. 832. What must we do when the confessor asks us questions?
A. When the confessor asks us questions we must answer them truthfully and clearly.
Q. 833. What should we do after telling our sins?
A. After telling our sins we should listen with attention to the advice which the confessor may think proper to give.
Q. 834. What duties does the priest perform in the confessional?
A. In the confessional the priest performs the duties:
- Of a judge, by listening to our self-accusations and passing sentence upon our guilt or innocence;
- Of a father, by the good advice and encouragement he gives us;
- Of a teacher, by his instructions, and
- Of a physician, by discovering the afflictions of our soul and giving us the remedies to restore it to spiritual health.
Q. 835. Why is it beneficial to go always if possible to the same confessor?
A. It is beneficial to go always, if possible, to the same confessor, because our continued confessions enable him to see more clearly the true state of our soul and to understand better our occasions of sin.
Q. 836. Should we remain away from confession because we cannot go to our usual confessor?
A. We should not remain away from confession because we cannot go to our usual confessor, for though it is well to confess to the same priest, it is not necessary to do so. One should never become so attached to a confessor that his absence or the great inconvenience of going to him would become an excuse for neglecting the Sacraments.
Q. 837. How should we end our Confession?
A. We should end our Confession by saying, "I also accuse myself of all the sins of my past life," telling, if we choose, one or several of our past sins.
Q. 838. What should we do while the priest is giving us absolution?
A. While the priest is giving us absolution we should from our heart renew the Act of Contrition.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 21
LESSON TWENTY-FIRST: On Indulgences
Q. 839. What is an Indulgence?
A. An Indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to sin.
Q. 840. What does the word "indulgence" mean?
A. The word indulgence means a favor or concession. An indulgence obtains by a very slight penance the remission of penalties that would otherwise be severe.
Q. 841. Is an Indulgence a pardon of sin, or a license to commit sin?
A. An Indulgence is not a pardon of sin, nor a license to commit sin, and one who is in a state of mortal sin cannot gain an Indulgence.
Q. 842. How do good works done in mortal sin profit us?
A. Good works done in mortal sin profit us by obtaining for us the grace to repent and sometimes temporal blessings. Mortal sin deprives us of all our merit, nevertheless God will bestow gifts for every good deed as He will punish every evil deed.
Q. 843. How many kinds of Indulgences are there?
A. There are two kinds of Indulgences -- Plenary and Partial.
Q. 844. What is Plenary Indulgence?
A. A Plenary Indulgence is the full remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.
Q. 845. Is it easy to gain a Plenary Indulgence?
A. It is not easy to gain a Plenary Indulgence, as we may understand from its great privilege. To gain a Plenary Indulgence, we must hate sin, be heartily sorry for even our venial sins, and have no desire for even the slightest sin. Though we may not gain entirely each Plenary Indulgence we seek, we always gain a part of each; that is, a partial indulgence, greater or less in proportion to our good dispositions.
Q. 846. Which are the most important Plenary Indulgences granted by the Church?
A. The most important Plenary Indulgences granted by the Church are:
- The Indulgences of a jubilee which the Pope grants every twenty-five years or on great occasions by which he gives special faculties to confessors for the absolution of reserved sins;
- The Indulgence granted to the dying in their last agony.
Q. 847. What is a Partial Indulgence?
A. A Partial Indulgence is the remission of part of the temporal punishment due to sin.
Q. 848. How long has the practice of granting Indulgences been in use in the Church, and what was its origin?
A. The practice of granting Indulgences has been in use in the Church since the time of the apostles. It had its origin in the earnest prayers of holy persons, and especially of the martyrs begging the Church for their sake to shorten the severe penances of sinners, or to change them into lighter penances. The request was frequently granted and the penance remitted, shortened or changed, and with the penance remitted the temporal punishment corresponding to it was blotted out.
Q. 849. How do we show that the Church has the power to grant Indulgences?
A. We show that the Church has the power to grant Indulgences, because Christ has given it power to remit all guilt without restriction, and if the Church has power, in the Sacrament of penance, to remit the eternal punishment -- which is the greatest -- it must have power to remit the temporal or lesser punishment, even outside the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 850. How do we know that these Indulgences have their effect?
A. We know that these Indulgences have their effect, because the Church, through her councils, declares Indulgences useful, and if they have no effect they would be useless, and the Church would teach error in spite of Christ's promise to guide it.
Q. 851. Have there ever existed abuses among the faithful in the manner of using Indulgences?
A. There have existed, in past ages, some abuses among the faithful in the manner of using Indulgences, and the Church has always labored to correct such abuses as soon as possible. In the use of pious practices we must be always guided by our lawful superiors.
Q. 852. How have the enemies of the Church made use of the abuse of Indulgences?
A. The enemies of the Church have made use of the abuse of Indulgences to deny the doctrine of Indulgences, and to break down the teaching and limit the power of the Church. Not to be deceived in matters of faith, we must always distinguish very carefully between the abuses to which a devotion may lead and the truths upon which the devotion rests.
Q. 853. How does the Church by means of Indulgences remit the temporal punishment due to sin?
A. The Church, by means of Indulgences, remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us the merits of Jesus Christ, and the superabundant satisfactions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints; which merits and satisfactions are its spiritual treasury.
Q. 854. What do we mean by the "superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints"?
A. By the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, we mean all the satisfaction over and above what was necessary to satisfy for their own sins. As their good works were many and their sins few -- the Blessed Virgin being sinless -- the satisfaction not needed for themselves is kept by the Church in a spiritual treasury to be used for our benefit.
Q. 855. Does the Church, by granting Indulgences, free us from doing Penance?
A. The Church, by granting Indulgences, does not free us from doing penance, but simply makes our penance lighter that we may more easily satisfy for our sins and escape the punishments they deserve.
Q. 856. Who has the power to grant Indulgences?
A. The Pope alone has the power to grant Indulgences for the whole Church; but the bishops have power to grant partial Indulgences in their own diocese. Cardinals and some others, by the special permission of the Pope, have the right to grant certain Indulgences.
Q. 857. Where shall we find the Indulgences granted by the Church?
A. We shall find the Indulgences granted by the Church in the declarations of the Pope and of the Sacred Congregation of Cardinals. These declarations are usually put into prayer books and books of devotion or instruction.
Q. 858. What must we do to gain an Indulgence?
A. To gain an Indulgence we must be in the state of grace and perform the works enjoined.
Q. 859. Besides being in a state of grace and performing the works enjoined, what else is necessary for the gaining of an Indulgence?
A. Besides being in a state of grace and performing the works enjoined, it is necessary for the gaining of an Indulgence to have at least the general intention of gaining it.
Q. 860. How and why should we make a general intention to gain all possible Indulgences each day?
A. We should make a general intention at our morning prayers to gain all possible Indulgences each day, because several of the prayers we say and good works we perform may have Indulgences attached to them, though we are not aware of it.
Q. 861. What works are generally enjoined for the gaining of Indulgences?
A. The works generally enjoined for the gaining of Indulgences are: The saying of certain prayers, fasting, and the use of certain articles of devotion; visits to Churches or altars, and the giving of alms. For the gaining of Plenary Indulgences it is generally required to go to confession and Holy Communion and pray for the intention of the Pope.
Q. 862. What does praying for a person's intention mean?
A. Praying for a person's intention means praying for whatever he prays for or desires to obtain through prayer -- some spiritual or temporal favors.
Q. 863. What does an Indulgence of forty days mean?
A. An Indulgence of forty days means that for the prayer or work to which an Indulgence of forty days is attached, God remits as much of our temporal punishment as He remitted for forty days' canonical penance. We do not know just how much temporal punishment God remitted for forty days' public penance, but whatever it was, He remits the same now when we gain an Indulgence of forty days. The same rule applies to Indulgences of a year or any length of time.
Q. 864. Why did the Church moderate its severe penances?
A. The Church moderated its severe penances, because when Christians -- terrified by persecution -- grew weaker in their faith, there was danger of some abandoning their religion rather than submit to the penances imposed. The Church, therefore, wishing to save as many as possible, made the sinner's penance as light as possible.
Q. 865. To what things may Indulgences be attached?
A. Plenary or Partial Indulgences may be attached to prayers and solid articles of devotion; to places such as churches, altars, shrines, etc., to be visited; and by a special privilege they are sometimes attached to the good works of certain persons.
Q. 866. When do things lose the Indulgences attached to them?
A. Things lose the Indulgences attached to them:
- When they are so changed at once as to be no longer what they were;
- When they are sold. Rosaries and other indulgenced articles do not lose their indulgences, when they are loaned or given away, for the indulgence is not personal but attached to the article itself.
Q. 867. Will a weekly Confession suffice to gain during the week all Indulgences to which Confession is enjoined as one of the works?
A Weekly confession will suffice to gain during the week all Indulgences to which confession is enjoined as one of the works, provided we continue in a state of grace, perform the other works enjoined and have the intention of gaining these Indulgences.
Q. 868. How and when may we apply Indulgences for the benefit of the souls in Purgatory?
A. We may apply Indulgences for the benefit of the souls in Purgatory by way of intercession; whenever this application is mentioned and permitted by the Church in granting the Indulgence; that is, when the Church declares that the Indulgence granted is applicable to the souls of the living or the souls in Purgatory; so that we may gain it for the benefit of either.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 22
LESSON TWENTY-SECOND: On the Holy Eucharist
Q. 869. What does the word Eucharist strictly mean?
A. The word Eucharist strictly means pleasing, and this Sacrament is so called because it renders us most pleasing to God by the grace it imparts, and it gives us the best means of thanking Him for all His blessings.
Q. 870. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.
Q. 871. What do we mean when we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood?
A. When we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, we mean the Sacrament which is the Body and Blood, for after the Consecration there is no other substance present in the Eucharist.
Q. 872. When is the Holy Eucharist a Sacrament, and when is it a sacrifice?
A. The Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament when we receive it in Holy Communion and when it remains in the Tabernacle of the Altar. It is a sacrifice when it is offered up at Mass by the separate Consecration of the bread and wine, which signifies the separation of Our Lord's blood from His body when He died on the Cross.
Q. 873. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.
Q. 874. Who were present when our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?
A. When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, the twelve Apostles were present.
Q. 875. How did our Lord institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist by taking bread, blessing, breaking, and giving to His Apostles, saying: "Take ye and eat. This is my body"; and then, by taking the cup of wine, blessing and giving it, saying to them: "Drink ye all of this. This is my blood which shall be shed for the remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of me."
Q. 876. What happened when our Lord said, "This is my body; this is my blood"?
A. When Our Lord said, "This is my body," the substance of the bread was changed into the substance of His body; when He said, "This is my blood," the substance of the wine was changed into the substance of His blood.
Q. 877. How do we prove the Real Presence, that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist?
A. We prove the Real Presence -- that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist:
- By showing that it is possible to change one substance into another;
- By showing that Christ did change the substance of bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood;
- By showing that He gave this power also to His Apostles and to the priests of His Church.
Q. 878. How do we know that it is possible to change one substance into another?
A. We know that it is possible to change one substance into another, because:
- God changed water into blood during the plagues of Egypt.
- Christ changed water into wine at the marriage of Cana.
- Our own food is daily changed into the substance of our flesh and blood; and what God does gradually, He can also do instantly by an act of His will.
Q. 879. Are these changes exactly the same as the changes that take place in the Holy Eucharist?
A. These changes are not exactly the same as the changes that take place in the Holy Eucharist, for in these changes the appearance also is changed, but in the Holy Eucharist only the substance is changed while the appearance remains the same.
Q. 880. How do we show that Christ did change bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood?
A. We show that Christ did change bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood:
- From the words by which He promised the Holy Eucharist;
- From the words by which He instituted the Holy Eucharist;
- From the constant use of the Holy Eucharist in the Church since the time of the Apostles;
- From the impossibility of denying the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, without likewise denying all that Christ has taught and done; for we have stronger proofs for the Holy Eucharist than for any other Christian truth.
Q. 881. Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine?
A. Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine.
Q. 882. How do we know that under the appearance of bread we receive also Christ's blood; and under the appearance of wine we receive also Christ's body?
A. We know that under the appearance of bread we receive also Christ's blood, and under the appearance of wine we receive also Christ's body; because in the Holy Eucharist we receive the living body of Our Lord, and a living body cannot exist without blood, nor can living blood exist without a body.
Q. 883. Is Jesus Christ present whole and entire in the smallest portion of the Holy Eucharist, under the form of either bread or wine?
A. Jesus Christ is present whole and entire in the smallest portion of the Holy Eucharist under the form of either bread or wine; for His body in the Eucharist is in a glorified state, and as it partakes of the character of a spiritual substance, it requires no definite size or shape.
Q. 884. Did anything remain of the bread and wine after their substance had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord?
A. After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of Our Lord, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.
Q. 885. What do you mean by the appearances of bread and wine?
A. By the appearances of bread and wine I mean the figure, the color, the taste, and whatever appears to the senses.
Q. 886. What is this change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord called?
A. This change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord is called Transubstantiation.
Q. 887. What is the second great miracle in the Holy Eucharist?
A. The second great miracle in the Holy Eucharist is the multiplication of the presence of Our Lord's body in so many places at the same time, while the body itself is not multiplied -- for there is but one body of Christ.
Q. 888. Are there not, then, as many bodies of Christ as there are tabernacles in the world, or as there are Masses being said at the same time?
A. There are not as many bodies of Christ as there are tabernacles in the world, or as there are Masses being said at the same time; but only one body of Christ, which is everywhere present whole and entire in the Holy Eucharist, as God is everywhere present, while He is but one God.
Q. 889. How was the substance of the bread and wine changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ?
A. The substance of the bread and wine was changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ by His almighty power.
Q. 890. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?
A. This change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ through the ministry of His priests.
Q. 891. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
A. Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He said to the Apostles, "Do this in commemoration of Me."
Q. 892. What do the words "Do this in commemoration of Me" mean?
A. The words "Do this in commemoration of Me" mean: Do what I, Christ, am doing at My last supper, namely, changing the substance of bread and wine into the substance of My body and blood; and do it in remembrance of Me.
Q. 893. How do the priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?
A. The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the words of consecration in the Mass, which are words of Christ: "This is my body; this is my blood."
Q. 894. At what part of the Mass does the Consecration take place?
A. The Consecration in the Mass takes place immediately before the elevation of the Host and Chalice, which are raised above the head of the priest that the people may adore Our Lord who has just come to the altar at the words of Consecration.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 23
LESSON TWENTY-THIRD: On the Ends for Which the Holy Eucharist Was Instituted
Q. 895. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:
- To unite us to Himself and to nourish our soul with His divine life.
- To increase sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul.
- To lessen our evil inclinations.
- To be a pledge of everlasting life.
- To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
- To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.
Q. 896. Has the Holy Eucharist any other effect?
A. The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.
Q. 897. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?
A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.
Q. 898. What is Holy Communion?
A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.
Q. 899. Is it not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food?
A. It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ's dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act on His own or on our part.
Q. 900. Why does not the Church give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also?
A. The Church does not give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also, to avoid the danger of spilling the Precious Blood; to prevent the irreverence some might show if compelled to drink out of a chalice used by all, and lastly, to refute those who denied that Our Lord's blood is present under the appearance of bread also.
Q. 901. What is necessary to make a good Communion?
A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to be in the state of sanctifying grace and to fast according to the laws of the Church.
Q. 902. What should a person do who, through forgetfulness or any other cause, has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion?
A. A person who through forgetfulness or any other cause has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion, should again fast and receive Holy Communion the following morning if possible, without returning to confession. It is not a sin to break one's fast, but it would be a mortal sin to receive Holy Communion after knowingly breaking the fast necessary for it.
Q. 903. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?
A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.
Q. 904. Is it enough to be free from mortal sin to receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion?
A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of lively faith, of firm hope, and ardent love.
Q. 905. What is the fast necessary for Holy Communion?
A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is the abstaining from food, alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks for one hour before Holy Communion. Water does not break the fast.
Q. 906. Does medicine taken by necessity or food taken by accident break the fast for Holy Communion?
A. Medicine does not break the fast; food taken by accident within one hour before Communion breaks the fast.
Q. 907. Is any one ever allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting?
A. To protect the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury, or when in danger of death, Holy Communion may be received without fasting.
Q. 908. Is the Holy Communion called by any other name when given to one in danger of death?
A. When the Holy Communion is given to one in danger of death, it is called Viaticum, and is given with its own form of prayer. In giving Holy Communion the priest says: "May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul to eternal life." In giving Holy Viaticum he says: "Receive, brother (or sister), the Viaticum of the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which will guard you from the wicked enemy and lead you into eternal life."
Q. 909. When are we bound to receive Holy Communion?
A. We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during the Easter time and when in danger of death.
Q. 910. Is it well to receive Holy Communion often?
A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all grace and the Source of all good.
Q. 911. How shall we know how often we should receive Holy Communion?
A. We shall know how often we shall receive Holy Communion only from the advice of our confessor, by whom we must be guided, and whom we must strictly obey in this as well as in all matters concerning the state of our soul.
Q. 912. What is a spiritual Communion?
A. A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make in case we really received the Holy Eucharist. Spiritual Communion is an act of devotion that must be pleasing to God and bring us blessings from Him.
Q. 913. What should we do after Holy Communion?
A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need.
Q. 914. What length of time should we spend in thanksgiving after Holy Communion?
A. We should spend sufficient time in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion to show due reverence to the Blessed Sacrament; for Our Lord is personally with us as long as the appearance of bread and wine remains.
Q. 915. What should we be particular about when receiving Holy Communion?
A. When receiving Holy Communion we should be particular:
- About the respectful manner in which we approach and return from the altar;
- About our personal appearance, especially neatness and cleanliness;
- About raising our head, opening our mouth and putting forth the tongue in the proper manner;
- About swallowing the Sacred Host;
- About removing it carefully with the tongue, in case it should stick to the mouth, but never with the finger under any circumstances.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 24
LESSON TWENTY-FOURTH: On the Sacrifice of the Mass
Q. 916. When and where are the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ?
A. The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ at the Consecration in the Mass.
Q. 917. What is the Mass?
A. The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.
Q. 918. Why is this Sacrifice called the Mass?
A. This Sacrifice is called the "Mass" very probably from the words "Ite Missa est," used by the priest as he tells the people to depart when the Holy Sacrifice is ended.
Q. 919. What is a sacrifice?
A. A sacrifice is the offering of an object by a priest to God alone, and the consuming of it to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all things.
Q. 920. Is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross.
Q. 921. How is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same -- Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross.
Q. 922. What were the ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered?
A. The ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered were:
- To honor and glorify God;
- To thank Him for all the graces bestowed on the whole world;
- To satisfy God's justice for the sins of men;
- To obtain all graces and blessings.
Q. 923. How are the fruits of the Mass distributed?
A. The fruits of the Mass are distributed thus:
- The first benefit is bestowed on the priest who says the Mass;
- The second on the person for whom the Mass is said, or for the intention for which it is said;
- The third on those who are present at the Mass, and particularly on those who serve it, and
- The fourth on all the faithful who are in communion with the Church.
Q. 924. Are all Masses of equal value in themselves or do they differ in worth?
A. All Masses are equal in value in themselves and do not differ in worth, but only in the solemnity with which they are celebrated or in the end for which they are offered.
Q. 925. How are Masses distinguished?
A. Masses are distinguished thus:
- When the Mass is sung by a bishop, assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Pontifical Mass;
- When it is sung by a priest, assisted by a deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Solemn Mass;
- When sung by a priest without deacon and sub-deacon, it is called a Missa Cantata or High Mass;
- When the Mass is only read in a low tone it is called a low or private Mass.
Q. 926. For what end or intention may Mass be offered?
A. Mass may be offered for any end or intention that tends to the honor and glory of God, to the good of the Church or the welfare of man; but never for any object that is bad in itself, or in its aims; neither can it be offered publicly for persons who are not members of the true Church.
Q. 927. Explain what is meant by Requiem, Nuptial and Votive Masses.
A. A Requiem Mass is one said in black vestments and with special prayers for the dead. A Nuptial Mass is one said at the marriage of two Catholics, and it has special prayers for their benefit. A Votive Mass is one said in honor of some particular mystery or saint, on a day not set apart by the Church for the honor of that mystery or saint.
Q. 928. From what may we learn that we are to offer up the Holy Sacrifice with the priest?
A. We may learn that we are to offer up the Holy Sacrifice with the priest from the words used in the Mass itself; for the priest, after offering up the bread and wine for the Sacrifice, turns to the people and says: "Orate Fratres," etc., which means: "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty," and the server answers in our name: "May the Lord receive the sacrifice from thy hands to the praise and glory of His own name, and to our benefit and that of all His Holy Church."
Q. 929. From what did the custom of making an offering to the priest for saying Mass arise?
A. The custom of making an offering to the priest for saying Mass arose from the old custom of bringing to the priest the bread and wine necessary for the celebration of Mass.
Q. 930. Is it not simony, or the buying of a sacred thing, to offer the priest money for saying Mass for your intention?
A. It is not simony, or the buying of a sacred thing, to offer the priest money for saying Mass for our intention, because the priest does not take the money for the Mass itself, but for the purpose of supplying the things necessary for Mass and for his own support.
Q. 931. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass?
A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and the wine, represents His death on the Cross.
Q. 932. What are the chief parts of the Mass?
A. The chief parts of the Mass are:
- The Offertory, at which the priests offers to God the bread and wine to be changed at the Consecration;
- The Consecration, at which the substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of Christ's body and blood;
- The Communion, at which the priest receives into his own body the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of both bread and wine.
Q. 933. At what part of the Mass does the Offertory take place, and what parts of the Mass are said before it?
A. The Offertory takes place immediately after the uncovering of the chalice. The parts of the Mass said before it are: The Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Prayers, Epistle, Gospel and Creed. The Introit, Prayers, Epistle and Gospel change in each Mass to correspond with the feast celebrated.
Q. 934. What is the part of the Mass called in which the Words of Consecration are found?
A. The part of the Mass in which the words of Consecration are found is called the Canon. This is the most solemn part of the Mass, and is rarely and but slightly changed in any Mass.
Q. 935. What follows the Communion of the Mass?
A. Following the Communion of Mass, there are prayers of thanksgiving, the blessing of the people, and the saying of the last Gospel.
Q. 936. What things are necessary for Mass?
A. The things necessary for Mass are:
- An altar with linen covers, candles, crucifix, altar stone and Mass book;
- A Chalice with all needed in its use, and bread of flour from wheat and wine from the grape;
- Vestments for the priest, and
- An acolyte or server.
Q. 937. What is the altar stone, and of what does it remind us?
A. The altar stone is that part of the altar upon which the priest rests the Chalice during Mass. This stone contains some holy relics sealed up in it by the bishop, and if the altar is of wood this stone is inserted just in front of the Tabernacle. The altar stone reminds us of the early history of the Church, when the martyrs' tombs were used for altars by the persecuted Christians.
Q. 938. What lesson do we learn from the practice of using martyrs' tombs for altars?
A. From the practice of using martyrs' tombs for altars we learn the inconvenience, sufferings and dangers the early Christians willingly underwent for the sake of hearing Mass. Since the Mass is the same now as it was then, we should suffer every inconvenience rather than be absent from Mass on Sundays or holy days.
Q. 939. What things are used with the chalice during Mass?
A. The things used with the chalice during Mass are:
- The purificator or cloth for wiping the inside;
- The paten or small silver plate used in handling the host;
- The pall or white card used for covering the chalice at Mass;
- The corporal or linen cloth on which the chalice and host rest.
Q. 940. What is the host?
A. The host is the name given to the thin wafer of bread used at Mass. This name is generally applied before and after Consecration to the large particle of bread used by the priest, though the small particles given to the people are also called by the same name.
Q. 941. Are large and small hosts consecrated at every Mass?
A. A large host is consecrated at every Mass, but small hosts are consecrated only at some Masses at which they are to be given to the people or placed in the Tabernacle for the Holy Communion of the faithful.
Q. 942. What vestments does the priest use at Mass and what do they signify?
A. The vestments used by the priest at Mass are:
- The Amice, a white cloth around the shoulders to signify resistance to temptation;
- The Alb, a long white garment to signify innocence;
- The Cincture, a cord about the waist, to signify chastity;
- The Maniple or hanging vestment on the left arm, to signify penance;
- The Stole or long vestment about the neck, to signify immortality;
- The Chasuble or long vestment over all, to signify love and remind the priest, by its cross on front and back, of the Passion of Our Lord.
Q. 943. How many colors of vestments are used, and what do the colors signify?
A. Five colors of vestments are used, namely, white, red, green, violet or purple, and black. White signifies innocence and is used on the feasts of Our Blessed Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, and of some saints. Red signifies love, and is used on the feasts of the Holy Ghost, and of martyrs. Green signifies hope, and is generally used on Sundays from Epiphany to Pentecost. Violet signifies penance, and is used in Lent and Advent. Black signifies sorrow, and is used on Good Friday and at Masses for the dead. Gold is often used for white on great feasts.
Q. 944. What is the Tabernacle and what is the Ciborium?
A. The Tabernacle is the house-shaped part of the altar where the sacred vessels containing the Blessed Sacrament are kept. The Ciborium is the large silver or gold vessel which contains the Blessed Sacrament while in the Tabernacle, and from which the priest gives Holy Communion to the people.
Q. 945. What is the Ostensorium or Monstrance?
A. The Ostensorium or Monstrance is the beautiful wheel-like vessel in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and kept during the Benediction.
Q. 946. How should we assist at Mass?
A. We should assist at Mass with great interior recollection and piety and with every outward mark of respect and devotion.
Q. 947. Which is the best manner of hearing Mass?
A. The best manner of hearing Mass is to offer it to God with the priest for the same purpose for which it is said, to meditate on Christ's sufferings and death, and to go to Holy Communion.
Q. 948. What is important for the proper and respectful hearing of Mass?
A. For the proper and respectful hearing of Mass it is important to be in our place before the priest comes to the altar and not to leave it before the priest leaves the altar. Thus we prevent the confusion and distraction caused by late coming and too early leaving. Standing in the doorways, blocking up passages and disputing about places should, out of respect for the Holy Sacrifice, be most carefully avoided.
Q. 949. What is Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and what vestments are used at it?
A. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is an act of divine worship in which the Blessed Sacrament, placed in the ostensorium, is exposed for the adoration of the people and is lifted up to bless them. The vestments used at Benediction are: A cope or large silk cloak and a humeral or shoulder veil.
Q. 950. Why does the priest wear special vestments and use certain ceremonies while performing his sacred duties?
A. The priest wears special vestments and uses certain ceremonies while performing his sacred duties:
- To give greater solemnity and to command more attention and respect at divine worship;
- To instruct the people in the things that these vestments and ceremonies signify;
- To remind the priest himself of the importance and sacred character of the work in which he is the representative of Our Lord Himself. Hence we should learn the meaning of the ceremonies of the Church.
Q. 951. How do we show that the ceremonies of the Church are reasonable and proper?
A. We show that the ceremonies of the Church are reasonable and proper from the fact that all persons in authority, rulers, judges and masters, require certain acts of respect from their subjects, and as we know Our Lord is present on the altar, the Church requires definite acts of reverence and respect at the services held in His honor and in His presence.
Q. 952. Are there other reasons for the use of ceremonies?
A. There are other reasons for the use of ceremonies:
- God commanded ceremonies to be used in the old law, and
- Our Blessed Lord Himself made use of ceremonies in performing some of His miracles.
Q. 953. How are the persons who take part in a Solemn Mass or Vespers named?
A. The persons who take part in a Solemn Mass or Vespers are named as follows: The priest who says or celebrates the Mass is called the celebrant; those who assist him as deacon and sub-deacon are called the ministers; those who serve are called acolytes, and the one who directs the ceremonies is called the master of ceremonies. If the celebrant be a bishop, the Mass or Vespers is called Pontifical Mass or Pontifical Vespers.
Q. 954. What is Vespers?
A. Vespers is a portion of the divine office or daily prayer of the Church. It is sung in Churches generally on Sunday afternoon or evening, and is usually followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Q. 955. Can one satisfy for neglecting Mass on Sunday by hearing Vespers on the same day?
A. One cannot satisfy for neglecting Mass on Sunday by hearing Vespers on the same day, because there is no law of the Church obliging us under pain of sin to attend Vespers, while there is a law obliging us under pain of mortal sin to hear Mass.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 25
LESSON TWENTY-FIFTH: On Extreme Unction and Holy Orders
Q. 956. What is the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which, through the anointing and prayer of the priest, gives health and strength to the soul, and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death from sickness.
Q. 957. Why is this Sacrament called Extreme Unction?
A. Extreme means last, and Unction means an anointing or rubbing with oil, and because Catholics are anointed with oil at Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, the last Sacrament in ,which oil is used is called Extreme Unction, or the last Unction or anointing.
Q. 958. Is this Sacrament called Extreme Unction if the person recovers after receiving it?
A. This Sacrament is always called Extreme Unction, even if it must be given several times to the same person, for Extreme Unction is the proper name of the Sacrament, and it may be given as often as a person recovering from one attack of sickness is in danger of death by another. In a lingering illness it may be repeated after a month or six weeks, if the person slightly recovers and again relapses into a dangerous condition.
Q. 959. To whom may Extreme Unction be given?
A. Extreme Unction may be given to all Christians dangerously ill, who have ever been capable of committing sin after baptism and who have the right dispositions for the Sacrament. Hence it is never given to children who have not reached the use of reason, nor to persons who have always been insane.
Q. 960. What are the right dispositions for Extreme Unction?
A. The right dispositions for Extreme Unction are:
- Resignation to the Will of God with regard to our recovery;
- A state of grace or at least contrition for sins committed, and
- A general intention or desire to receive the Sacrament. This Sacrament is never given to heretics in danger of death, because they cannot be supposed to have the intention necessary for receiving it, nor the desire to make use of the Sacrament of Penance in putting themselves in a state of grace.
Q. 961. When and by whom was Extreme Unction instituted?
A. Extreme Unction was instituted at the time of the apostles, for James the Apostle exhorts the sick to receive it. It was instituted by Our Lord Himself -- though we do not know at what particular time -- for He alone can make a visible act a means of grace, and the apostles and their successors could never have believed Extreme Unction a Sacrament and used it as such unless they had Our Lord's authority for so doing.
Q. 962. When should we receive Extreme Unction?
A. We should receive Extreme Unction when we are in danger of death from sickness, or from a wound or accident.
Q. 963. What parts of the body are anointed in Extreme Unction?
A. The parts of the body anointed in Extreme Unction are: The eyes, the ears, the nose or nostrils, the lips, the hands and the feet, because these represent our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are the means through which we have committed most of our sins.
Q. 964. What things should be prepared in the sick-room when the priest is coming to give the last Sacraments?
A. When the priest is coming to give the last Sacraments, the following things should be prepared: 1.A table covered with a white cloth; a crucifix; two lighted candles in candlesticks; holy water in a small vessel, with a small piece of palm for a sprinkler; a glass of clean water; a tablespoon and a napkin or cloth, to be placed under the chin of the one receiving the Viaticum. Besides these, if Extreme Unction also is to be given, there should be some cotton and a small piece of bread or lemon to purify the priest's fingers.
Q. 965. What seems most proper with regard to the things necessary for the last Sacraments?
A. It seems most proper that the things necessary for the last Sacraments should be carefully kept in every Catholic family, and should never, if possible, be used for any other purpose.
Q. 966. What else is to be observed about the preparation for the administration of the last Sacraments?
A. The further preparation for the administration of the last Sacraments requires that out of respect for the Sacraments, and in particular for the presence of Our Lord, everything about the sick-room, the sick person and even the attendants, should be made as neat and clean as possible. Especially should the face, hands and feet of the one to be anointed be thoroughly clean.
Q. 967. Should we wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction?
A. We should not wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction, but if possible we should receive it whilst we have the use of our senses.
Q. 968. What should we do in case of serious illness if the sick person will not consent or is afraid to receive the Sacraments, or, at least, wishes to put off their reception?
A. In case of serious illness, if the sick person will not consent, or is afraid to receive the Sacraments, or, at least, wishes to put off their reception, we should send for the priest at once and let him do what he thinks best in the case, and thus we will free ourselves from the responsibility of letting a Catholic die without the last Sacraments.
Q. 969. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. The effects of Extreme Unction are:
- To comfort us in the pains of sickness and to strengthen us against temptations;
- To remit venial sins and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin;
- To restore us to health, when God sees fit.
Q. 970. Will Extreme Unction take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess?
A. Extreme Unction will take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided he has the sorrow for his sins that would bee necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 971. How do we know that this Sacrament, more than any other, was instituted to benefit the body?
A. We know that this Sacrament more than any other was instituted to benefit the body:
- From the words of St. James exhorting us to receive it;
- It is given when the soul is already purified by the graces of Penance and Holy Viaticum;
- One of its chief objects is to restore us to health if it be for our spiritual good, as most of the prayers said in giving this Sacrament indicate.
Q. 972. Since Extreme Unction may restore us to health, should we not be glad to receive it?
A. Since Extreme Unction may restore us to health. we should be glad to receive it, and we should not delay its reception till we are so near death that God could restore us only by a miracle. Again, this Sacrament, like the others, gives sanctifying and sacramental grace, which we should be eager to obtain as soon as our sickness is sufficient to give us the privilege of receiving the last Sacraments.
Q. 973. What do you mean by the remains of sin?
A. By the remains of sin I mean the inclination to evil and the weakness of the will which are the result of our sins, and which remain after our sins have been forgiven.
Q. 974. How should we receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. We should receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction in the state of grace, and with lively faith and resignation to the will of God.
Q. 975. Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. The priest is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
Q. 976. What is the final preparation we should make for the reception of the last Sacraments?
A. The final preparation we should make for the reception of the last Sacraments consists in an earnest effort to be resigned to God's Holy Will, to excite ourselves to true sorrow for our sins, to profit by the graces given us, to keep worldly thoughts from the mind, and to dispose ourselves as best we can for the worthy reception of the Sacraments and the blessings of a good death.
Q. 977. At what time should persons dangerously ill attend to the final arrangement of their temporal or worldly affairs?
A. Persons dangerously ill should attend to the final arrangement of their temporal or worldly affairs at the very beginning of their illness, that these things may not distract them at the hour of death, and that they may give the last hours of their life entirely to the care of their soul.
Q. 978. What is the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
A. Holy Orders is a Sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties.
Q. 979. Besides bishops and priests, who are the other ministers of the Church?
A. Besides bishops and priests, the other ministers of the Church are deacons and subdeacons, who, while preparing for the priesthood, have received some of the Holy Orders, but who have not been ordained to the full powers of the priest.
Q. 980. Why is this Sacrament called Holy Orders?
A. This Sacrament is called Holy Orders because it is conferred by seven different grades or steps following one another in fixed order by which the sacred powers of the priesthood are gradually given to the one admitted to that holy state.
Q. 981. What are the grades by which one ascends to the priesthood?
A. The grades by which one ascends to the priesthood are:
- Tonsure, or the clipping of the hair by the bishop, by which the candidate for priesthood dedicates himself to the service of the altar;
- The four minor orders, Porter, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte, by which he is permitted to perform certain duties that laymen should not perform;
- Sub-deaconship, by which he takes upon himself the obligation of leading a life of perpetual chastity and of saying daily the divine office;
- Deaconship, by which be receives power to preach, baptize, and give Holy Communion. The next step, priesthood, gives him power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and forgive sins. These orders are not all given at once, but at times fixed by the laws of the Church.
Q. 982. Are not the different orders separate Sacraments?
A. These different orders are not separate Sacraments. Taken all together, some are a preparation for the Sacrament and the rest are but the one Sacrament of Holy Orders; as the roots, trunk and branches form but one tree.
Q. 983. What name is given to sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood?
A. Sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood are called major or greater orders, because those who receive them are bound for life to the service of the altar and they cannot return to the service of the world to live as ordinary laymen.
Q. 984. What double power does the Church possess and confer on her pastors?
A. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.
Q. 985. How do the pastors of the Church rank according to authority?
A. The pastors of the Church rank according to authority as follows:
- Priests, who govern parishes or congregations in the name of their bishop;
- Bishops, who rule over a number of parishes or a diocese;
- Archbishops, who have authority over a number of dioceses or a province;
- Primates, who have authority over the ecclesiastical or Church provinces of a nation;
- Patriarchs, who have authority over a whole country;
- and last and highest, the Pope, who rules the Church throughout the world.
Q. 986. How do the prelates or higher officers of the Church rank in dignity?
A. The prelates or higher officers of the Church rank in dignity as they rank in authority, except that in dignity Cardinals are next to the Pope, and Vicars Apostolic, Monsignor, and others having titles follow bishops. Papal delegates and those specially appointed by the Pope rank according to the powers he has given them.
Q. 987. Who are Cardinals, what are their duties and how are they divided?
A. Cardinals are the members of the Supreme Council or Senate of the Church. Their duties are to advise and aid the Pope in the government of the Church, and to elect a new Pope when the reigning Pope dies. They are divided into committees called sacred congregations, each having, its special work to perform. All these congregations taken together are called the Sacred College of Cardinals, of which the whole number is seventy.
Q. 988. Who is a Monsignor?
A. A Monsignor is a worthy priest upon whom the Pope confers this title as a mark of esteem. It gives certain privileges and the right to wear purple like a bishop.
Q. 989. Who is a Vicar-General?
A. A Vicar-General is one who is appointed by the bishop to aid him in the government of his diocese. He shares the bishop's power and in the bishop's absence he acts for the bishop and with his authority.
Q. 990. Who is an Abbot?
A. An Abbot is one who exercises over a religious community of men authority similar in many things to that exercised by a bishop over his diocese. He has also certain privileges usually granted to bishops.
Q. 991. What is the pallium?
A. The pallium is a white woolen vestment worn by the Pope and sent by him to patriarchs, primates and archbishops. It is the symbol of the fullness of pastoral power, and reminds the wearer of the Good Shepherd, whose example he must follow.
Q. 992. What is necessary to receive Holy Orders worthily?
A. To receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, to have the necessary knowledge and a divine call to this sacred office.
Q. 993. What name is given to this divine call and how can we discover this call?
A. This divine call is named a vocation to the priestly or religious life. We can discover it in our constant inclination to such a life from the pure and holy motive of serving God better in it, together with our fitness for it, or, at least, our ability to prepare for it, also in our true piety and mastery over our sinful passions and unlawful desires.
Q. 994. How should we finally determine our vocation?
A. We should finally determine our vocation: 1.(1) By leading a holy life that we may be more worthy of it; 2.(2) By praying to the Holy Ghost for light on the subject; 3.(3) By seeking the advice of holy and prudent persons and above all of our confessor.
Q. 995. What should parents and guardians bear in mind with regard to their children's vocations?
A. Parents and guardians should bear in mind with regard to their children's vocations:
- That it is their duty to aid their children to discover their vocation;
- That it is sinful for them to resist the Will of God by endeavoring to turn their children from their true vocation or to prevent them from following it by placing obstacles in their way, and, worst of all, to urge them to enter a state of life to which they have not been divinely called;
- That in giving their advice they should be guided only by the future good and happiness of their children and not by any selfish or worldly motive which may lead to the loss of souls.
Q. 996. How should Christians look upon the priests of the Church?
A. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers of God and the dispensers of His mysteries.
Q. 997. How do we know that the priests of the Church are the messengers of God?
A. We know that the priests of the Church are the messengers of God, because Christ said to His apostles, and through them to their successors: "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you"; that is to say, to preach the true religion, to administer the Sacraments, to offer Sacrifice, and to do all manner of good for the salvation of souls.
Q. 998. When did the priests of the Church receive this threefold power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate bread and wine?
A. The priests of the Church received this three-fold power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate bread and wine, when Christ said to them, through the apostles: "Go teach all nations"; "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven," and "Do this for a commemoration of Me."
Q. 999. Why should we show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church?
A. We should show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church:
- Because they are the representatives of Christ upon earth, and
- Because they administer the Sacraments without which we cannot be saved. Therefore, we should be most careful in what we do, say or think concerning God's ministers. To show our respect in proportion to their dignity, we address the priest as Reverend, the bishop as Right Reverend, the archbishop as Most Reverend, and the Pope as Holy Father.
Q. 1000. Should we do more than merely respect the ministers of God?
A. We should do more than merely respect the ministers of God. We should earnestly and frequently pray for them, that they may be enabled to perform the difficult and important duties of their holy state in a manner pleasing to God.
Q. 1001. Who can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
A. Bishops can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Q. 1002. How do we know that there is a true priesthood in the Church?
A. We know that there is a true priesthood in the Church:
- Because in the Jewish religion, which was only a figure of the Christian religion, there was a true priesthood established by God;
- Because Christ conferred on His apostles and not on all the faithful the power to offer Sacrifice, distribute the Holy Eucharist and forgive sins.
Q. 1003. But is there need of a special Sacrament of Holy Orders to confer these powers?
A. There is need of a special Sacrament of Holy Orders to confer these powers:
- Because the priesthood which is to continue the work of the apostles must be visible in the Church, and it must therefore be conferred by some visible ceremony or outward sign;
- Because this outward sign called Holy Orders gives not only power but grace and was instituted by Christ, Holy Orders must be a Sacrament.
Q. 1004. Can bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church always exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders?
A. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.