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86. Effects of the Sacrament of Penance

1. The sacrament of penance cannot take away the mortalsins of those confirmed in evil, that is, of souls and demons inhell; for these beings are incapable of repentance. But it can takeaway all mortal sins, without exception, of man the wayfarer, thatis, of man in the present earthly life.

2. Mortal sin cannot be taken away without repentance. Formortal sin is a complete turning of man's soul from God; mortalsin remains in the soul until the will turns back again to God; thewill does this by repentance, that is, by exercising thesupernatural virtue of penance, and, as explained above (q. 84,note), making use of the sacrament of penance.

3. One mortal sin cannot be pardoned without another;all are taken from the soul or none is taken. Forevery unrepented mortal sin excludes grace and pardon; if one suchsin remains in the soul, grace and pardon are blocked out. Besides,no man can truly repent of one sin because it offends God, while hestill has the will to offend God by another sin.

4. A sinner is under two burdens, namely, guilt,and debt of punishment due. The debt of punishment due tosin is either eternal or temporal. When mortalsin is taken away as to its guilt, the eternal punishment due to itis also taken away; yet the temporal punishment due to it may notbe entirely taken away. Hence, when the guilt of mortal sin isremoved by penance, some debt of temporal punishment may yet beowed by the forgiven sinner.

5. Sin leaves remnants or remains in the souleven after it is taken away. Sin may thus be compared to a serioussickness which, even when cured, leaves in the patient a weaknessor tendency to relapse. Besides, frequently repeated sins leave adisposition, or even a habit, in the soul. The sacrament of penancewhich takes away sin does not necessarily take away the remains ofsin or the habit of sin; yet the sacrament does diminish or weakenthese things so that they do not domineer over a man or compel himto relapse into sin.

6. Penance as a virtue disposes a man to have his sinstaken away, and by God's gift of this virtue, a person mayobtain pardon of his guilt. Yet the most effective penance is notthe virtue, but the sacrament of penance; for the sacramentdirectly absolves the sinner from his guilt.

"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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