Basic Catholic Doctrine:
Baltimore Catechism No. 2, Lessons 21-30

Revised Edition; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1941

The Baltimore Catechism, which had been taught and revered by Catholics in the U.S. for many years, has been replaced in the modern Conciliar Church with humanistic, ecumenical teaching.


LESSON 21 — The Commandments of the Church; The First and Second Commandments

279. Whence has the Catholic Church the right to make laws?
The Catholic Church has the right to make laws from Jesus Christ, who said to the apostles, the first bishops of His Church: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven."

Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matthew 18:18)

280. By whom is this right to make laws exercised?
This right to make laws is exercised by the bishops, the successors of the apostles, and especially by the Pope, who as the successor of the chief of the apostles, Saint Peter, has the right to make laws for the Universal Church.

And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

281. Which are the chief commandments, or laws, of the Church?
The chief commandments, or laws, of the Church are these six:
1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays and holydays of obligation.
2. To fast and to abstain on the days appointed.
3. To confess our sins at least once a year.
4. To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
5. To contribute to the support of the Church.
6. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.

282. What sin does a Catholic commit who through his own fault misses Mass on a Sunday or holyday of obligation?
A Catholic who through his own fault misses Mass on a Sunday or holyday of obligation commits a mortal sin.

Keep you my sabbath; for it is holy unto you. (Exodus 31:14)

283. Which are the holydays of obligation in the United States?
The holydays of obligation in the United States are these six:
Christmas Day (December 25)
The Octave of the Nativity (January 1)
Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter)
The Assumption (August 15)
All Saints' Day (November 1)
The Immaculate Conception (December 8)

284. What else does the Church oblige us to do on holydays of obligation?
The Church obliges us to abstain from servile work on holydays of obligation, just as on Sundays, as far as we are able.

285. Why were holydays instituted by the Church?
Holydays were instituted by the Church to remind us of the mysteries of our religion and of the important events in the lives of Christ and of His Blessed Mother, and to recall to us the virtues and the rewards of the saints.

286. What is a fast day?
A fast day is a day on which only one full meal is allowed, but in the morning and evening some food may be taken, the quantity and quality of which are determined by approved local custom.

287. Who are obliged to observe the fast days of the Church?
All baptized persons between the ages of twenty-one and fifty-nine are obliged to observe the fast days of the Church, unless they are excused or dispensed.

288. What is a day of abstinence?
A day of abstinence is a day on which we are not allowed the use of meat.

289. Who are obliged to observe the abstinence days of the Church?
All Catholics who have passed their seventh birthday and have attained the use of reason are obliged to observe the abstinence days of the Church, unless excused or dispensed.

290. Why does the Church command us to fast and to abstain?
The Church commands us to fast and to abstain in order that we may control the desires of the flesh, raise our minds more freely to God, and make satisfaction for sin.

But thou, when thou dost fast, anoint thy head wash thy face, so that thou mayest not be seen fasting by men, but by thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who sees in secret, will reward thee. (Matthew 6:18)

291.Why does the Church make Fridays a day of abstinence?
The Church makes Fridays of abstinence to remind us of Our Lord's death on Good Friday.

292. How can we know the days appointed for fast or abstinence?
We can know the days appointed for fast or abstinence from the instructions of our bishops and priests.

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Lesson 22 — The Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Commandments of the Church

293. What is meant by the commandment to confess our sins at least once a year?
By the commandment to confess our sins at least once a year is meant that we are strictly obliged to make a good confession within the year, if we have a mortal sin to confess.

Confess, therefore, your sins to one another. (James 5:16)

294. Why should we go to confession frequently?
We should go to confession frequently because frequent confession greatly helps us to overcome temptation, to keep in the state of grace, and to grow in virtue.

295. What sin does a Catholic commit who neglects to receive Holy Communion worthily during the Easter time?
A Catholic who neglects to receive Holy Communion worthily during the Easter time commits a mortal sin.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. (John 6:55-56)

296. What is the Easter time in the United States?
The Easter time in the United States begins on the first Sunday of Lent and ends on Trinity Sunday.

297. What is meant by the commandment to contribute to the support of the Church?
By the commandment to contribute to the support of the Church is meant that each of us is obliged to bear his fair share of the financial burden of the Holy See, of the diocese, and of the parish.

So also the Lord directed that those who preach the gospel should have their living from the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:14)

298. What is the ordinary law of the Church to be observed at the wedding of a Catholic?
The ordinary law of the Church to be observed at the wedding of a Catholic is this: A Catholic can contract a true marriage only in the presence of an authorized priest and two witnesses.

299. Does the Church forbid Catholics to contract marriage with certain persons?
The Church does forbid Catholics to contract marriage with certain persons, and the following are examples: first, a marriage with a non-Catholic; this is a mixed marriage; second, a marriage with a second cousin, or any relative closer than a second cousin.

300. Why does the Church forbid Catholics to marry non-Catholics?
The Church forbids Catholics to marry non-Catholics because mixed marriages often bring about family discord, loss of faith on the part of the Catholic, and neglect of the religious training of the children.

And it is better to die without children, than to leave ungodly children. (Ecclesiasticus 16:4)

301. Does the Church ever permit mixed marriages or marriages between close relatives?
For grave reasons the Church sometimes permits mixed marriages or marriages between close relatives; such a permission is called a dispensation.

302. Does the Church allow Catholics to marry during Lent and Advent?
The Church allows Catholics to marry during Lent and Advent, though they should do so without much festivity. A Nuptial Mass is now allowed during these seasons.

303. What is a Nuptial Mass?
A Nuptial Mass is a Mass which has special prayers to beg God's blessing on the married couple.

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Lesson 23 — The Sacraments

304. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

305. How many sacraments are there?
There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

306. From whom do the sacraments receive their power to give grace?
The sacraments receive their power to give grace from God, through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Let a man so account us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. (I Corinthians 4:1)

307. Do the sacraments give sanctifying grace?
The sacraments do give sanctifying grace.

Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:17)

308. Does each of the sacraments also give a special grace?
Each of the sacraments also gives a special grace, called sacramental grace, which helps one to carry out the particular purpose of that sacrament.

309. Do the sacraments always give grace?
The sacraments always give grace if we receive them with the right dispositions.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

310. Why are Baptism and Penance called sacraments of the dead?
Baptism and Penance are called sacraments of the dead because their chief purpose is to give the supernatural life of sanctifying grace to souls spiritually dead through sin.

Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

311. Why are Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony called sacraments of the living?
Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are called sacraments of the living because their chief purpose is to give more grace to souls already spiritually alive through sanctifying grace.

312. What sin does one commit who knowingly receives a sacrament of the living in mortal sin?
He who knowingly receives a sacrament of the living in mortal sin commits a mortal sin of sacrilege, because he treats a sacred thing with grave irreverence.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

313. Which are the sacraments that can be received only once?
The sacraments that can be received only once are Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

314. Why can Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders be received only once?
Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders can be received only once because they imprint on the soul a spiritual mark, called a character, which lasts forever.

And do not grieve the Holy Ghost of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:) 

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Lesson 24 — Baptism

315. What is Baptism?
Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven.

Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

316. What sins does Baptism take away?
Baptism takes away original sin; and also actual sin and all the punishment due to them, if the person baptized be guilty of any actual sins and truly sorry for them.

Get up and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16)

317. What are the effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism?
The effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism are that we become members of the Church, subject to its laws, and capable of receiving other sacraments.

318. Who can administer Baptism?
The priest is the usual minister of Baptism, but if there is danger that someone will die without Baptism, anyone else may and should baptize.

319. How would you give Baptism?
I would give Baptism by pouring ordinary water on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying while pouring it: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

320. Why is Baptism necessary for the salvation of all men?
Baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men because Christ has said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Now they who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)

321. How can those be saved who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism?
Those who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what is called baptism of blood or baptism of desire.

322. How does an unbaptized person receive the baptism of blood?
An unbaptized person receives the baptism of blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith of Christ.

Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

323. How does an unbaptized person receive the baptism of desire?
An unbaptized person receives the baptism of desire when he loves God above all things and desires to do all that is necessary for his salvation.

If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

324. When should children be baptized?
Children should be baptized as soon as possible after birth.

325. What sin do Catholic parents commit who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the Baptism of their children?
Catholic parents who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the Baptism of their children, commit a mortal sin.

326. What do we promise through our godparents in Baptism?
We promise through our godparents in Baptism to renounce the devil and to live according to the teachings of Christ and of His Church.

327. Why is the name of a saint given in Baptism?
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.

328. What is the duty of a godparent after Baptism?
The duty of a godparent after Baptism is to see that the child is brought up a good Catholic, if this is not done by the parents.

329. Who should be chosen as godparents for Baptism?
Only Catholics who know their faith and live up to the duties of their religion should be chosen as godparents for Baptism.

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Lesson 25 — Confirmation

330. What is Confirmation?
Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.

But I speak the truth to you; it is expedient for you that I depart. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. (John 16:7)

331. Who is the usual minister of Confirmation?
The bishop is the usual minister of Confirmation.

332. What does the bishop do when he gives Confirmation?
The bishop extends his hands over those who are to be confirmed, prays that they may receive the Holy Ghost, and, while laying his hand on the head of each person, anoints the forehead with holy chrism in the form of a cross.

And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

333. What does the bishop say in anointing the person he confirms?
In anointing the person he confirms, the bishop says: "I sign you with the sign of the cross and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

334. What is holy chrism?
Holy chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balm, blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday.

335. What does the anointing of the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross signify?
The anointing of the forehead with chrism in the form of a cross signifies that the Catholic who is confirmed must always be ready to profess his faith openly and to practice it fearlessly.

336. Why does the bishop give the person he confirms a slight blow on the cheek?
The bishop gives the person he confirms a slight blow on the cheek to remind him that he must be ready to suffer everything, even death, for the sake of Christ.

337. What are the effects of Confirmation?
Confirmation increases sanctifying grace, gives its special sacramental grace, and imprints a lasting character on the soul.

And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

338. What does the sacramental grace of Confirmation help us to do?
The sacramental grace of Confirmation helps us to live our faith loyally and to profess it courageously.

339. What is the character of Confirmation?
The character of Confirmation is a spiritual and indelible sign which marks the Christian as a soldier in the army of Christ.

340. What is necessary to receive Confirmation properly?
To receive Confirmation properly it is necessary to be in the state of grace, and to know well the chief truths and duties of our religion.

341. After we have been confirmed, why should we continue to study our religion even more earnestly than before?
After we have been confirmed, we should continue to study our religion even more earnestly than before, so that we may be able to explain and defend our faith, and thus cooperate with the grace of Confirmation.

342. Why should all Catholics be confirmed?
All Catholics should be confirmed in order to be strengthened against the dangers to salvation and to be prepared better to defend their Catholic faith.

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Lesson 26 — The Holy Eucharist

343. What is the Holy Eucharist?
The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice. In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received.

I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever. (John 6:51-52)

344. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

345. Who were present when Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?
When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist the apostles were present.

Now when the evening arrived, he came with the Twelve. (Mark 14:17)

346. How did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist in this way: He took bread, blessed and broke it, and giving it to His apostles, said: "Take and eat; this is My body"; then He took a cup of wine, blessed it, and giving it to them, said: "All of you drink of this; for this is My blood of the new covenant which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins"; finally, He gave His apostles the commission: "Do this in remembrance of Me."

And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

347. What happened when Our Lord said: "This is My body . . . this is My blood"?
When Our Lord said, "This is My body," the entire substance of the bread was changed into His body; and when He said, "This is My blood," the entire substance of the wine was changed into His blood.

348. Did anything of the bread and wine remain after their substance had been changed into Our Lord's body and blood?
After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord's body and blood, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.

349. What do we mean by the appearances of bread and wine?
By the appearances of bread and wine we mean their color, taste, weight, shape, and whatever else appears to the senses.

350. What is the change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ called?
The change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is called Transubstantiation.

351. Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine?
Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine.

352. How was Our Lord able to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
Our Lord was able to change bread and wine into His body and blood by His almighty power.

All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)

353. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?
The 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.

354. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?
Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He made the apostles priests at the Last Supper by saying to them: "Do this in remembrance of Me."

355. How do priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?
Priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ by repeating at the Consecration of the Mass the words of Christ: "This is My Body ... this is My blood."

356. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?
Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist:
first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross;
second, to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion;
third, to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshiped by us.

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Lesson 27 — The Sacrifice of the Mass

357. What is the Mass?
The Mass is the sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.

For, from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation. (Malachi 1:11)

358. What is a sacrifice?
A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things.

359. Who is the principal priest in every Mass?
The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His body and blood which were sacrificed on the cross.

And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

360. Why is the Mass the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross?
The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.

361. What are the purposes for which the Mass is offered?
The purposes for which the Mass is offered are: first, to adore God as our Creator and Lord; second, to thank God for His many favors; third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men; fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him.

362. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass?
The manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the cross Christ physically shed His blood and was physically slain, while in the Mass there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death, because Christ can die no more; on the cross Christ gained merit and satisfied for us, while in the Mass He applies to us the merits and satisfaction of His death on the cross.

For we know that Christ, having risen from the dead, dies now no more, death shall no longer have dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)

363. How should we assist at Mass?
We should assist at Mass with reverence, attention, and devotion.

364. What is the best method of assisting at Mass?
The best method of assisting at Mass is to unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice, and to receive Holy Communion.

364A. How can we best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice?
We can best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice by joining in mind and heart with Christ, the principal Priest and Victim, by following the Mass in a missal, and by reciting or chanting the responses.

365. Who said the first Mass?
Our Divine Savior said the first Mass, at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

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Lesson 28 — Holy Communion

366. What is Holy Communion?
Holy Communion is the receiving of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. (John 6:57)

367. What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?
To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to be free from mortal sin, to have a right intention, and to obey the Church's laws on the fast required before Holy Communion out of reverence for the body and blood of Our Divine Lord. However, there are some cases in which Holy Communion may be received without fasting.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

368. Does he who knowingly receives Holy Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ and His graces?
He who knowingly receives Holy Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ; but he does not receive His graces and he commits a grave sin of sacrilege.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

369. What should we do to receive more abundantly the graces of Holy Communion?
To receive more abundantly the graces of Holy Communion we should strive to be most fervent and to free ourselves from deliberate venial sin.

370. Does the Church now command us to fast from midnight before Holy Communion?
The Church does not now command us to fast from midnight before Holy Communion, as it did formerly. The laws enacted by Pope Pius XII now regulate this matter by the number of hours we must fast.

371. When may Holy Communion be received without fasting?
Holy Communion may be received without fasting when one is in danger of death, or when it is necessary to save the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury.

372. What are the laws enacted by Pope Pius XII regarding the fast required before Holy Communion?
The laws enacted by Pope Pius XII regarding the fast required before Holy Communion are the following:
1. Water may be taken at any time before Holy Communion without breaking the fast.
2. Sick persons, though not confined to bed, may receive Holy Communion after taking medicine or nonalcoholic drinks. A priest's permission is not necessary.
3. All Catholics may receive Holy Communion after fasting three hours from food and alcoholic drinks and one hour from non-alcoholic drinks. This rule applies to Holy Communion at midnight Mass as well as at Masses celebrated in the morning, afternoon or evening. A priest's permission is not needed.
4. Catholics are urged to observe the eucharistic fast from midnight as formerly, and also to compensate for the use of the new privileges by works of charity and penance, but these practices are not obligatory. One who has already received Holy Communion may not receive the Blessed Sacrament again on the same day, except in danger of death.

373. How should we prepare ourselves for Holy Communion?
We should prepare ourselves for Holy Communion by thinking of Our Divine Redeemer whom we are about to receive, and by making fervent acts of faith, hope, love, and contrition.

Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof. (Matthew 8:8)

374. What should we do after Holy Communion?
After Holy Communion we should spend some time adoring Our Lord, thanking Him, renewing our promises of love and of obedience to Him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves and others.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

375. What are the chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion?
The chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are: first, a closer union with Our Lord and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor; second, an increase of sanctifying grace; third, preservation from mortal sin and the remission of venial sin; fourth, the lessening of our inclinations to sin and the help to practice good works.

He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. (John 6:57)

376. When are we obliged to receive Holy Communion?
We are obliged to receive Holy Communion during Easter time each year and when in danger of death.

377. Why is it well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily?
It is well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily, because this intimate union with Jesus Christ, the Source of all holiness and the Giver of all graces, is the greatest aid to a holy life.

And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

378. How should we show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist?
We should show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist by visiting Him often, by reverence in church, by assisting every day at Mass when this is possible, by attending parish devotions, and by being present at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

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Lesson 29 — Penance

379. What is the sacrament of Penance?
Penance is the sacrament by which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven through the absolution of the priest.

380. Whence has the priest the power to forgive sins?
The priest has the power to forgive sins from Jesus Christ, who said to His apostles and to their successors in the priesthood: "Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."

Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. (John 20:22-23)

381. With what words does the priest forgive sins?
The priest forgives sins with the words: "I absolve thee from thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

382. What are the effects of the sacrament of Penance, worthily received?
The effects of the sacrament of Penance, worthily received, are:
first, the restoration or increase of sanctifying grace;
second, the forgiveness of sins;
third, the remission of the eternal punishment, if necessary, and also of part, at least, of the temporal punishment, due to our sins;
fourth, the help to avoid sin in future;
fifth, the restoration of the merits of our good works if they have been lost by mortal sin.

383. What else does the sacrament of Penance do for us?
The sacrament of Penance also gives us the opportunity to receive spiritual advice and instruction from our confessor.

384. What must we do to receive the sacrament of Penance worthily?
To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, we must:
first, examine our conscience;
second, be sorry for our sins;
third, have the firm purpose of not sinning again;
fourth, confess our sins to the priest;
fifth, be willing to perform the penance the priest gives us.

But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed and keep all my commandments and do judgment and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)

385. What is an examination of conscience?
An examination of conscience is a sincere effort to call to mind all the sins we have committed since our last worthy confession.

386. What should we do before our examination of conscience?
Before our examination of conscience we should ask God's help to know our sins and to confess them with sincere sorrow.

387. How can we make a good examination of conscience?
We can make a good examination of conscience by calling to mind the commandments of God and of the Church, and the particular duties of our state of life, and by asking ourselves how we may have sinned with regard to them.

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Lesson 30 — Contrition

388. What is contrition?
Contrition is sincere sorrow for having offended God, and hatred for the sins we have committed, with a firm purpose of sinning no more.

Let the wicked man forsake his way and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord; and he will have mercy on him. (Isaiah 55:7)

389. Will God forgive us any sin unless we have true contrition for it?
God will not forgive us any sin, whether mortal or venial, unless we have true contrition for it.

Now therefore saith the Lord: "Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning. And rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:12-13)

390. When is sorrow for sin true contrition?
Sorrow for sin is true contrition when it is interior, supernatural supreme, and universal.

Create a pure heart for me, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit. (Psalm 50:12)

391. When is our sorrow interior?
Our sorrow is interior when it comes from our heart, and not merely from our lips.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 50:19)

392. When is our sorrow supernatural?
Our sorrow is supernatural when, with the help of God's grace, it arises from motives which spring from faith and not merely from natural motives.

393. When is our sorrow supreme?
Our sorrow is supreme when we hate sin above every other evil, and are willing to endure any suffering rather than offend God in the future by sin.

394. When is our sorrow universal?
Our sorrow is universal when we are sorry for every mortal sin which we may have had the misfortune to commit.

Turn thy face away from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (Psalm 50:11)

395. Should we always try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance?
We should try to have sorrow for all our venial sins when receiving the sacrament of Penance, and, when we have only venial sins to confess, we must have sorrow for at least one of them or for some sin of our past life which we confess.

396. Why should we have contrition for mortal sin?
We should have contrition for mortal sin because it is the greatest of all evils, gravely offends God, keeps us out of heaven, and condemns us forever to hell.

If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn. (John 15:6)

397. Why should we have contrition for venial sin?
We should have contrition for venial sin because it is displeasing to God, merits temporal punishment, and may lead to mortal sin.

398. How many kinds of contrition are there?
There are two kinds of contrition: perfect contrition and imperfect contrition.

399. When is our contrition perfect?
Our contrition is perfect when we are sorry for our sins because sin offends God, whom we love above all things for His own sake.

Create a pure heart for me, O God, and renew in me a steadfast spirit. (Psalm 50:12)

400. When is our contrition imperfect?
Our contrition is imperfect when we are sorry for our sins because they are hateful in themselves or because we fear God's punishment.

And the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned. Do thou unto us whatsoever pleaseth thee, only deliver us this time." (Judges 10:15)

401. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, what kind of contrition is sufficient?
To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, imperfect contrition is sufficient.

402. Should we always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance?
We should always try to have perfect contrition in the sacrament of Penance because perfect contrition is more pleasing to God, and because with His help we can always have it.

403. How can a person in mortal sin regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance?
A person in mortal sin can regain the state of grace before receiving the sacrament of Penance by making an act of perfect contrition with the sincere purpose of going to confession.

404. What should we do if we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin?
If we have the misfortune to commit a mortal sin, we should ask God's pardon and grace at once, make an act of perfect contrition, and go to confession as soon as we can.

Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

405. May we receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition?
We may not receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin if we merely make an act of perfect contrition; one who has sinned grievously must go to confession before receiving Holy Communion.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

406. What is the firm purpose of sinning no more?
The firm purpose of sinning no more is the sincere resolve not only to avoid sin but to avoid as far as possible the near occasions of sin.

Go thy way, and from now on sin no more. (John 8:11)

407. What purpose of amendment must a person have if he has only venial sins to confess?
If a person has only venial sins to confess, he must have the purpose of avoiding at least one of them.


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