St. Antoninus on How a Devout Catholic Lost His Soul due to Concealment of Sin in Confession
St. Antoninus (1389–1459), Archbishop of Florence, relates in his writings a terrible fact which about the middle of the 15th century, spread fright over the whole North of Italy.
A young man of good stock, who, at the age of 16 or 17, had had the misfortune of concealing a mortal sin in Confession, and, in that state, of receiving Communion, had put off from week to week and month to month, the painful disclosures of his sacrileges. Tortured by remorse, instead of discovering with simplicity his misfortune, he sought to gain quiet by great penances, but to no purpose. Unable to bear the strain any longer, he entered a monastery; there, at least, he said to himself, I will tell all, and expiate my frightful sins. Unhappily, he was welcomed as a holy young man by his superiors, who knew him by reputation, and his shame again got the better of him. Accordingly, he deferred his confession of this sin to a later period; and a year, two years, three years passed in this deplorable state; he never dared to reveal his misfortune. Finally, sickness seemed to him to afford an easy means of doing it. “Now is the time,” he said to himself; “I am going to tell all; I will make a general confession before I die.” But this time, instead of frankly and fairly declaring his faults, he twisted them so artfully that his confessor was unable to understand him. He hoped to come back again the next day, but an attack of delirium came on, and the unfortunate man died. The community, who were ignorant of the frightful reality, were full of veneration for the deceased. His body was borne with a certain degree of solemnity into the church of the monastery, and lay exposed in the choir until the next morning when the funeral was to be celebrated. A few moments before the time fixed for the ceremony, one of the Brothers, sent to toll the bell, saw before him, all of a sudden, the deceased, encompassed by chains that seemed aglow with fire, while something blazing appeared all over his person. Frightened, the poor Brother fell on his knees, with his eyes riveted on the terrifying apparition. Then the damned soul said to him: “Do not pray for me, I am in here for all eternity.” And he related the sad story of his false shame and sacrileges. Thereupon, he vanished, leaving in the church a disgusting odor, which spread all over the monastery, as if to prove the truth of all the Brother just saw and heard. Notified at once, the Superiors had the corpse taken away, deeming it unworthy of ecclesiastical burial.
Mini Catechism Lesson
How is actual sin divided?
Actual sin is divided into mortal sin and venial sin.
What is mortal sin?
Mortal sin is a serious offence against God.
Why is it called mortal sin?
It is called mortal sin because it is so serious that it kills the soul and deserves hell.
How does mortal sin kill the soul?
Mortal sin kills the soul by depriving it of sanctifying grace, which is the supernatural life of the soul.
Is it a great evil to fall into mortal sin?
It is the greatest of all evils to fall into mortal sin.
Where will they go who die in mortal sin?
They who die in mortal sin will go to hell for all eternity.
What is venial sin?
Venial sin is an offence which does not kill the soul, yet displeases God, and often leads to mortal sin.
Why is it called venial sin?
It is called venial sin because it is more easily pardoned than mortal sin
What is the Sacrament of Penance?
Penance is a Sacrament whereby the sins, whether mortal or venial, which we have committed after Baptisin are forgiven.
Does the Sacrament of Penance increase the grace of God in the soul?
The Sacrament of Penance increases the grace of God in the soul, besides forgiving sin; we should, therefore, often go to confession.
When did our Lord institute the Sacrament of Penance?
Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he breathed on his Apostles and gave them power to forgive sins, saying: ‘Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven’. (John 20:23)
How does the priest forgive sins?
The priest forgives sins by the power of God, when he pronounces the words of absolution.
What are the words of absolution?
The words of absolution are: ‘I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’.
Are any conditions for forgiveness required on the part of the penitent?
Three conditions for forgiveness are required on the part of the penitent – Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction.
What is Contrition?
Contrition is a heartfelt sorrow for our sins, because by them we have offended so good a God, together with a firm purpose of amendment.
What is a firm purpose of amendment?
A firm purpose of amendment is a resolution to avoid, by the grace of God, not only sin, but also the dangerous occasions of sin.
How may we obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins?
We may obtain a hearty sorrow for our sins by earnestly praying for it, and by making use of such considerations as may lead us to it.
What consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins?
This consideration concerning God will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that by our sins we have offended God, who is infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us.
What consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins?
This consideration concerning our Saviour will lead us to sorrow for our sins; that our Saviour died for our sins, and that those who sin grievously ‘have wilfully crucified the Son of God and openly mocked him.’ (Heb. 6:6)
Is sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserved hell, sufficient when we go to confession?
Sorrow for our sins, because by them we have lost heaven and deserve hell, is sufficient when we go to confession.
What is perfect contrition?
Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin arising purely from the love of God.
What special value has perfect contrition?
Perfect contrition has this special value; that by it our sins are forgiven immediately, even before we confess them; but nevertheless, if they are serious, we are strictly bound to confess them afterwards.
What is confession?
Confession is to accuse ourselves of our sins to a priest approved by the Bishop.
What if a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession?
If a person wilfully conceals a serious sin in confession he is guilty of a great sacrilege, by telling a lie to the Holy Spirit in making a bad confession.
How many things have we to do in order to prepare for confession?
We have four things to do in order to prepare for confession: first, we must heartily pray for grace to make a good confession: secondly, we must carefully examine our conscience: thirdly, we must take time and care to make a good act of contrition: and fourthly, we must resolve by the help of God to renounce our sins, and to begin a new life for the future.
What is satisfaction?
Satisfaction is doing the penance given us by the priest.
Does the penance given by the priest always make full satisfaction for our sins?
The penance given by the priest does not always make full satisfaction for our sins. We should therefore add to it other good works and penances, and try to gain Indulgences
(Nihil obstat: Rev. Terry Tekippe, Censor Librorum. Imprimatur: + Most Rev. Francis B. Shulte, Archbishop of New Orleans, 29 December 1989.)
PRAYER BEFORE CONFESSION
(Remember to confess your sins with supernatural sorrow for your sins and with a firm purpose of amendment. Ask your confessor to help you with any difficulties you have in making a good confession.)
PRAYER FOR A GOOD CONFESSION
O my God, by my grievous sins I have crucified again Thy Divine Son and made Him a mockery. For this I have deserved Thy wrath and made myself fit for the fires of hell. How ungrateful have I been to Thee as well, my heavenly Father, Who created me out of nothing, redeemed me by the precious blood of Thy Son and sanctified me by Thy holy sacraments and by the Holy Ghost. But Thou hast spared me by Thy mercy, to make this confession. Receive me back as Thy prodigal son and grant me to confess well, that I may begin anew to love Thee with my whole heart and soul, and henceforth to keep Thy commandments and suffer patiently whatever temporal punishment may remain. I hope by Thy goodness and power to obtain everlasting life in Paradise. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
PRAYERS AFTER CONFESSION
O Almighty and most merciful God, who, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, hast vouchsafed once more to receive Thy prodigal child after so many times going astray from Thee, to this Sacrament of reconciliation; I give Thee thanks with all the power of my soul for this and all other mercies, graces and blessings bestowed on me, and prostrating myself at Thy sacred feet, I offer myself to be henceforth forever Thine. Oh, let nothing in life or death separate me from Thee! I renounce with my whole soul all the acts of treason against Thee, and all the abominations and sins of my past life.
I renew the promises I made in Baptism, and from this moment I dedicate myself to Thy love and service. Oh, grant me that for the time to come, I may abhor sin more than death itself, and all such occasions and companions, as have unhappily brought me to it. This I resolve to do by the help of Thy divine grace, without which I can do nothing. I beg Thy blessing upon these my resolutions, that they may not be ineffectual like many others I have formerly made, for, O Lord, without Thee, I am nothing but misery and sin. Supply also, by Thy mercy, whatever defects have been in this my confession, and give me grace to be now and always a true penitent. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.