The Sacrament of Penance

In Catholic teaching the nature or essence of the Sacrament of Penance is composed of “matter” and “form”. These are the essential parts of the Sacrament. For this reason, there is no Sacrament if either the matter or the form is absent.

The Church teaches that the “matter” of the Sacrament of Penance is “the three acts of the penitent”. These acts include contrition, confession and satisfaction. In the first place, the first act of the penitent, “contrition,” refers to the “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin, together with the resolution not to sin again” (CCC 1451). This can either be perfect or imperfect contrition. Perfect contrition in a penitent proceeds from his true love of God by loving God as his First Love. He can also develop imperfect contrition. This form of contrition is born of the ugliness of sin and the fear of eternal damnation. Furthermore, the second act of the penitent is the “confession” of his sins to a priest (CCC 1456, 1458). On the one hand, the Church “recommends” that the penitent confess his venial sins. These are sins that spiritually “wound” his life of charity interiorly. On the other hand, the Church “requires” that the penitent confess all his particular mortal sins. These are sins that “destroy” his spiritual life of charity. In this sense, he suffers spiritual death by mortal sin. Finally, the third act of the penitent is “satisfaction” for sin (CCC 1459). Through satisfaction he offers reparation to heal the damage he has done to himself, his relationship with God, the Church and his neighbor. This is the “penance” the priest assigns to the penitent in this Sacrament. For instance, this would include returning the goods he has stolen from his neighbor. This would also mean restoring the good name or reputation of a person he may have slandered.

The “form” of Penance is the prescribed “words of absolution,” which the priest pronounces in absolving the penitent of his sins. This is the priest acting in the person of Christ the Head to forgive sins through the sacred power he has received from God through his ordination. In doing so, Christ acts through the agency of the priest (CCC 1449).

Br. Mariano

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Fr. Juan to Serve as Director of Development for the Southern Province

As you may know, we, the Dominican friars, have a newly elected Prior Provincial, fr. Tom Condon, O.P. and a new council of six friars for the Southern Province. About two weeks ago, fr. Condon and his council called to ask me to be the Director of Development for the Province. The petition took me by surprise and after some discussion I accepted, with the proposal that I would remain here in Houston at Holy Rosary Parish. It was granted – I love Holy Rosary and Houston!

This new position embraces being an overseer of all the fundraising efforts of our Province. Though we have well established events such our Galas in Houston, New Orleans, and Memphis, my new position will also involve the envisioning of future events in cities such as Dallas, Atlanta, and Miami. Besides, now I’m an ex-officio member of the Economic Council of our Province, with periodical meetings in our New Orleans headquarters (most of them hopefully over the phone!).

As I start this challenging ministry as of July 1, I ask for your prayers. Also, I thank you for your constant generosity towards the Dominican Order, especially for your participation in our Houston Gala. Please, save the date for next year’s Gala, at The Houstonian Hotel, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. Without your support we wouldn’t be able to fulfill our call to preach the Gospel of Peace and Justice.

The purpose of all our fundraising activities is the formation of young men as Dominican Priests and Brothers; the care of our friars, who after many years of dedicated service, are semi-retired or infirm; and the support of our current ministries in parishes, hospitals, universities, jails, and as itinerant preachers of God’s Word throughout the South of the Unites States.

In Christ and our Holy Father Dominic,

fr. Juan, OP

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