Basic Catholic Doctrine:
Baltimore Catechism No. 2, Lessons 31-38

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 31 — Confession

408. What is confession?
Confession is the telling of our sins to an authorized priest for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.

He that hideth his sins shall not prosper; but he that shall confess and forsake them shall obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

409. Why must we confess our sins?
We must confess our sins because Jesus Christ obliges us to do so in these words, spoken to the apostles and to their successors in the priesthood: "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)

410. How do these words of Christ oblige us to confess our sins?
These words of Christ oblige us to confess our sins because the priest cannot know whether he should forgive or retain our sins unless we tell them to him.

411. Is it necessary to confess every sin?
It is necessary to confess every mortal sin which has not yet been confessed and forgiven; it is not necessary to confess our venial sins, but it is better to do so.

He that hideth his sins shall not prosper; but he that shall confess and forsake them shall obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

412. What are the chief qualities of a good confession?
The chief qualities of a good confession are three: it must be humble, sincere, and entire.

413. When is our confession humble?
Our confession is humble when we accuse ourselves of our sins with a conviction of guilt for having offended God.

O God, be merciful to me the sinner! (Luke 18:13)

414. When is our confession sincere?
Our confession is sincere when we tell our sins honestly and frankly.

415. When is our confession entire?
Our confession is entire when we confess at least all our mortal sins, telling their kind, the number of times we have committed each sin, and any circumstances changing their nature.

When a man or woman shall have committed any of all the sins that men are wont to commit, and by negligence shall have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and offended: they shall confess their sin. (Numbers 5:6-7)

416. What are we to do if without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin?
If without our fault we forget to confess a mortal sin, we may receive Holy Communion, because we have made a good confession and the sin is forgiven; but we must tell the sin in confession if it again comes to our mind.

417. What happens if we knowingly conceal a mortal sin in confession?
If we knowingly conceal a mortal sin in confession, the sins we confess are not forgiven; moreover, we commit a mortal sin of sacrilege.

418. What must a person do who has knowingly concealed a mortal sin in confession?
A person who has knowingly concealed a mortal sin in confession must confess that he has made a bad confession, tell the sin he has concealed, mention the sacraments he has received since that time, and confess all the mortal sins he has committed since his last good confession.

419. Why should a sense of shame and fear of telling our sins to the priest never lead us to conceal a mortal sin in confession?
A sense of shame and fear of telling our sins to the priest should never lead us to conceal a mortal sin in confession because this is a grave sacrilege, and also because the priest, who represents Christ Himself, is bound by the seal of the sacrament of Penance never to reveal anything that has been confessed to him.

Be not ashamed to confess thy sins. (Ecclesiasticus 4:31)

420. Why does the priest give us a penance after confession?
The priest gives us a penance after confession that we may make some atonement to God for our sins, receive help to avoid them in the future, and make some satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to them.

421. What kinds of punishment are due to sin?
Two kinds of punishment are due to sin: the eternal punishment of hell, due to unforgiven mortal sins, and temporal punishment, lasting only for a time, due to venial sins and also to mortal sins after they have been forgiven.

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)

422. Does the sacrament of Penance, worthily received, always take away all punishment?
The sacrament of Penance, worthily received, always takes away all eternal punishment; but it does not always take away all temporal punishment.

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)

423. Why does God require temporal punishment for sin?
God requires temporal punishment for sin to satisfy His justice, to teach us the great evil of sin, and to warn us not to sin again.

424. Where do we pay the debt of our temporal punishment?
We pay the debt of our temporal punishment either in this life or in purgatory.

The fire will assay the quality of everyone's work; if his work abides which he has built thereon, he will receive reward; if his work burns he will lose his reward, but himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (I Corinthians 3:13-15)

425. What are the chief means of satisfying the debt of our temporal punishment, besides the penance imposed after confession?
Besides the penance imposed after confession, the chief means of satisfying the debt of our temporal punishment are: prayer, attending Mass, fasting, almsgiving, the works of mercy, the patient endurance of sufferings, and indulgences.

Prayer is good with fasting and alms; more than to lay up treasures of gold. (Tobias 12:8) 

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Lesson 32 — How to Make a Good Confession

426. Before entering the confessional, how should we prepare ourselves for a good confession?
Before entering the confessional, we should prepare ourselves for a good confession by taking sufficient time not only to examine our conscience but, especially, to excite in our hearts sincere sorrow for our sins and a firm purpose not to commit them again.

427. How should we begin our confession?
We should begin our confession in this manner: Entering the confessional, we kneel, and making the sign of the cross we say to the priest: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned"; and then we tell how long it has been since our last confession.

428. After telling the time of our last confession, what do we confess?
After telling the time of our last confession, if we have committed any mortal sins since that time we must confess them, and also any that we have forgotten in previous confessions, telling the nature and number of each; we may also confess any venial sins we wish to mention.

429. What should we do if we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins?
If we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, or say how often we have committed the sins in a day, a week, a month, or a year.

4. What should we do when we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession?
When we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession, we should confess our venial sins or some sin told in a previous confession, for which we are again sorry, in order that the priest may give us absolution.

Remember not the sins of my youth nor my offenses. According to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake. (Psalm 24:7)

431. How should we end our confession?
We should end our confession by saying: "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life, especially for ..."; and then it is well to tell one or several of the sins which we have previously confessed and for which we are particularly sorry.

432. What should we do after confessing our sins?
After confessing our sins, we should answer truthfully any question the priest asks, seek advice if we feel that we need any, listen carefully to the spiritual instruction and counsel of the priest, and accept the penance he gives us.

433. What should we do when the priest is giving us absolution?
When the priest is giving us absolution, we should say from our heart the act of contrition in a tone to be heard by him.

434. What should we do after leaving the confessional?
After leaving the confessional we should return thanks to God for the sacrament we have received, beg Our Lord to supply for the imperfections of our confession, and promptly and devoutly perform our penance.

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Lesson 33 — Temporal Punishment and Indulgences

435. What is an indulgence?
An indulgence is the remission granted by the Church of the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.

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)

436. How many kinds of indulgences are there?
There are two kinds of indulgences, plenary and partial.

437. What is a plenary indulgence?
A plenary indulgence is the remission of all the temporal punishment due to our sins.

438. What is a partial indulgence?
A partial indulgence is the remission of part of the temporal punishment due to our sins.

439. How does the Church by means of indulgences remit the temporal punishment due to sin?
The Church by means of indulgences remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us from her spiritual treasury part of the infinite satisfaction of Jesus Christ and of the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints.

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, bearing witness in his own time. (I Timothy 2:5-6)

440. What is the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints?
The superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints is that which they gained during their lifetime but did not need, and which the Church applies to their fellow members of the communion of saints.

441. What must we do to gain an indulgence for ourselves?
To gain an indulgence for ourselves we must be in the state of grace, have at least a general intention of gaining the indulgence, and perform the works required by the Church.

442. Can we gain indulgences for others?
We cannot gain indulgences for other living persons, but we can gain them for the souls in purgatory, since the Church makes most indulgences applicable to them.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (II Maccabees 12:46) 

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Lesson 34 — Extreme Unction and Holy Orders

443. What is Extreme Unction?
Extreme Unction is the sacrament which, through the anointing with blessed oil by the priest, and through his prayer, gives health and strength to the soul and sometimes to the body when we are in danger of death from sickness, accident, or old age.

Is any one among you sick? Let him bring in the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

444. Who should receive Extreme Unction?
All Catholics who have reached the use of reason and are in danger of death from sickness, accident, or old age should receive Extreme Unction.

445. What are the effects of the sacrament of Extreme Unction?
The effects of the sacrament of Extreme Unction are:
first, an increase of sanctifying grace;

second, comfort in sickness and strength against temptation;

third, preparation for entrance into heaven by the remission of our venial sins and the cleansing of our souls from the remains of sin;

fourth, health of body when it is good for the soul.

And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:15)

446. When does Extreme Unction take away mortal sin?
Extreme Unction takes away mortal sin when the sick person is unconscious or otherwise unaware that he is not properly disposed, but has made an act of imperfect contrition.

447. How should we prepare ourselves to receive Extreme Unction worthily?
We should prepare ourselves to receive Extreme Unction worthily by a good confession, by acts of faith, hope, charity, and, especially, by resignation to the will of God.

My son, in thy sickness, neglect not thyself, but pray to the Lord and he shall heal thee. (Ecclesiasticus 38:9)

448. Who can administer Extreme Unction?
Only a priest can administer Extreme Unction.

449. When is it advisable to call the priest to visit the sick?
It is advisable to call the priest to visit the sick in any serious illness, even though there be no apparent danger of death, as it is the duty of the priest to visit the sick and to administer to them the sacraments they need.

450. In case of sudden or unexpected death, should a priest be called?
In case of sudden or unexpected death a priest should be called always, because absolution and Extreme Unction can be given conditionally for some time after apparent death.

451. What is Holy Orders?
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which men receive the power and grace to perform the sacred duties of bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church.

For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in the things pertaining to God, that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. (Hebrews 5:1)

452. What are some of the requirements that a man may receive Holy Orders worthily?
That a man may receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary:
first, that he be in the state of grace and be of excellent character;
second, that he have the prescribed age and learning;
third, that he have the intention of devoting his life to the sacred ministry;
fourth, that he be called to Holy Orders by his bishop.

If anyone is eager for the office of bishops, he desires a good work. A bishop then, must be blameless, married but once, reserved, prudent, of good conduct, hospitable, a teacher, not a drinker or a brawler, but moderate, not quarrelsome, not avaricious. (I Timothy 3:1-3)

452A. What is meant essentially by a vocation to the priesthood?
By a vocation to the priesthood is meant essentially that invitation to receive Holy Orders given by the proper ecclesiastical superior to a man who, after a sufficient period of preparation and trial, gives signs that he has been called by God to the priesthood.

452B. What are the chief signs that a man has been called by God to the priesthood?
The chief signs that a man has been called by God to the priesthood are: a sincere desire to become a priest, a virtuous life, and sufficient bodily health and intellectual ability to enable him to make the required studies and to perform the duties of the priestly life.

452C. Do religious brothers and sisters receive the sacrament of Holy Orders?
No; religious brothers and sisters do not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, but they have received from God a vocation to dedicate their lives to His service.

453. What are the effects of ordination to the priesthood?
The effects of ordination to the priesthood are: first, an increase of sanctifying grace; second, sacramental grace, through which the priest has God's constant help in his sacred ministry; third, a character, lasting forever, which is a special sharing in the priesthood of Christ and which gives the priest special supernatural powers.

Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 109:4)

454. What are the chief supernatural powers of the priest?
The chief supernatural powers of the priest are: to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to forgive sins in the sacrament of Penance.

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)

455. Why should Catholics show reverence and honor to the priest?
Catholics should show reverence and honor to the priest because he is the representative of Christ Himself and the dispenser of His mysteries.

With all thy soul fear the Lord, and reverence his priests. (Ecclesiasticus 7:31)

456. Who is the minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders?
The bishop is the minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders.

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Lesson 35 — Matrimony

457. What is the sacrament of Matrimony?
Matrimony is the sacrament by which a baptized man and a baptized woman bind themselves for life in a lawful marriage and receive the grace to discharge their duties.

And God created man to his own image; to the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." (Genesis 1:27-28)

458. What are the chief duties of husband and wife in the married state?
The chief duties of husband and wife in the married state are to be faithful to each other, and to provide in every way for the welfare of the children God may give them.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is becoming in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them. (Colossians 3:18-19)

459. Why does the bond of the sacrament of Matrimony last until the death of husband or wife?
The bond of the sacrament of Matrimony lasts until the death of husband or wife because Christ has said: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

A woman is bound as long as her husband is alive, but if her husband dies, she is free. (I Corinthians 7:39)

460. What is meant by the unity of the sacrament of Matrimony?
By the unity of the sacrament of Matrimony is meant that the husband cannot during the life of his wife have another wife, nor the wife during the life of her husband have another husband.

461. Why is every true marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman a sacrament?
Every true marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a sacrament because Christ Himself raised every marriage of this kind to the dignity of a sacrament.

462. Why has the Catholic Church alone the right to make laws regulating the marriages of baptized persons?
The Catholic Church alone has the right to make laws regulating the marriages of baptized persons because the Church alone has authority over the sacraments and over sacred matters affecting baptized persons.

463. What authority has the State regarding the marriages of baptized persons?
Regarding the marriages of baptized persons, the State has the authority to make laws concerning their effects that are merely civil.

Then he said to them, "Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21)

464. What is necessary to receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily?
To receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, to know the duties of married life, and to obey the marriage laws of the Church.

For we are children of the saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God. (Tobias 8:5)

465. In whose presence do the laws of the Church require a Catholic to be married?
The laws of the Church require a Catholic to be married in the presence of the parish priest, or the bishop of the diocese, or a priest delegated by either of them, and before two witnesses.

466. What are the chief effects of the sacrament of Matrimony?
The chief effects of the sacrament of Matrimony are: first, an increase of sanctifying grace; second, the special help of God for husband and wife to love each other faithfully, to bear with each other's faults, and to bring up their children properly.

467. What should Catholics do to prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
To prepare for a holy and happy marriage, Catholics should:
first, pray that God may direct their choice;
second, seek the advice of their parents and confessors;
third, practice the virtues, especially chastity:
fourth, frequently receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist.

Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear him in your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

468. How can Catholics best obtain God's blessing for their marriage?
Catholics can best obtain God's blessing for their marriage by being married at a Nuptial Mass and by receiving Holy Communion devoutly.

Sara also said, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us; and let us grow old both together in health." (Tobias 8:10) 

Lesson 36 — The Sacramentals

469. What are sacramentals?
Sacramentals are holy things or actions of which the Church makes use to obtain for us from God, through her intercession, spiritual and temporal favors.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. (John 3:14-15)

470. How do the sacramentals obtain favors from God?
The sacramentals obtain favors from God through the prayers of the Church offered for those who make use of them, and through the devotion they inspire.

471. What are the chief benefits obtained by the use of the sacramentals?
The chief benefits obtained by the use of the sacramentals are:
first, actual graces;
second, the forgiveness of venial sins;
third, the remission of temporal punishment;
fourth, health of body and material blessings;
fifth, protection from evil spirits.

472. Which are the chief kinds of sacramentals?
The chief kinds of sacramentals are:
first, blessings given by priests and bishops;
second, exorcisms against evil spirits; third, blessed objects of devotion.

473. Which are the blessed objects of devotion most used by Catholics?
The blessed objects of devotion most used by Catholics are: holy water, candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, medals, rosaries, scapulars, and images of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints.

And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. (Luke 1:10)

474. How should we make use of sacramentals?
We should make use of the sacramentals with faith and devotion, and never make them objects of superstition.

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Lesson 37 — Prayer

475. What is prayer?
Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.

Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens. (Lamentations 3:41)

476. Why do we pray?
We pray:
first, to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty;
second, to thank Him for His favors;
third, to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment;
fourth, to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41)

477. How should we pray?
We should pray:
first, with attention;
second, with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God;
third, with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him;
fourth, with loving trust in His goodness;
fifth, with perseverance.

And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

478. For whom should we pray?
We should pray especially for ourselves, for our parents, relatives, friends, and enemies, for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Church, and for the officials of our country.

But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)

479. How do we know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly?
We know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly because Our Lord has promised: "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you."

And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

480. Why do we not always obtain what we pray for?
We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions. (James 4:3)

481. Are distractions in our prayers always displeasing to God?
Distractions in our prayers are not displeasing to God, unless they are willful.

482. How many kinds of prayer are there?
There are two kinds of prayer: mental prayer and vocal prayer.

483. What is mental prayer?
Mental prayer is that prayer by which we unite our hearts with God while thinking of His holy truths.

For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things. (Philippians 4:8)

484. What is vocal prayer?
Vocal prayer is that prayer which comes from the mind and heart and is spoken by the lips.

With my voice I called upon the Lord, and he hearkened to me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3:5)

485. May we use our own words in praying to God?
We may use our own words in praying to God, and it is well to do so often.

486. What are the prayers that every Catholic should know by heart?
The prayers that every Catholic should know by heart are: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, the Glory be to the Father, and the acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition.

487. How do we usually begin and end our prayers?
We usually begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)

488. Why do we make the sign of the cross?
We make the sign of the cross to express two important mysteries of the Christian religion, the Blessed Trinity and the Redemption.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

489. How are these mysteries expressed by the sign of the cross?
When we say "In the name," we express the truth that there is only one God; when we say "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," we express the truth that there are three distinct Persons in God; and when we make the form of the cross on ourselves, we express the truth that the Son of God, made man, redeemed us by His death on the cross.

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Lesson 38 — The Our Father

490. Why is the Our Father the best of all prayers?
The Our Father is the best of all prayers because it is the Lord's Prayer, taught us by Jesus Christ Himself, and because it is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love. See Matthew 6:9-13 for the Lord's Prayer.

491. Why is the Our Father a prayer of perfect and unselfish love?
The Our Father is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love because in saying it we offer ourselves entirely to God and ask from Him the best things, not only for ourselves but also for our neighbor.

492. Why do we address God as "Our Father who art in heaven"?
We address God as "Our Father who art in heaven" because we belong to Him, our loving Father, who created us and watches over us, who adopts us through sanctifying grace as His children, and who destines us to live forever with Him in heaven, our true home.

In my Father's house, there are many mansions. (John 14:2)

493. For what do we pray when we say "hallowed be Thy name"?
When we say "hallowed be Thy name," we pray that God may be known and honored by all men.

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise. (Psalm 112:3)

494. For what do we pray when we say "Thy kingdom come"?
When we say "Thy kingdom come," we pray that the kingdom of God's grace may be spread throughout the world, that all men may come to know and to enter the true Church and to live as worthy members of it, and that, finally, we all may be admitted to the kingdom of God's glory.

You therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

495. For what do we pray when we say "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"?
When we say "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," we pray that all men may obey God on earth as willingly as the saints and angels obey Him in heaven.

Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but thine be done. (Luke 22:41)

496. For what do we pray when we say "Give us this day our daily bread"?
When we say "Give us this day our daily bread," we pray that God will give us each day all that is necessary to support the material life of our bodies and the spiritual life of our souls.

For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. (John 6:56)

497. For what do we pray when we say "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us"?
When we say "and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," we pray that God will pardon the sins by which we have offended Him, and we tell Him that we pardon our fellow men who have offended us.

For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your offenses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

498. For what do we pray when we say "and lead us not into temptation"?
When we say "and lead us not into temptation," we pray that God will always give us the grace to overcome the temptations to sin which come to us from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee. (Tobias 12:13)

499. For what do we pray when we say "but deliver us from evil"?
When we say "but deliver us from evil," we pray that God will always protect us from harm, and especially from harm to our souls.

I do not pray that thou take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from evil. (John 17:15)

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