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17. The Power of the Keys

1. The gate of heaven, always open to mankind since the day ofAscension, is closed upon that individual man who is burdened bythe guilt of mortal sin and the debt of eternalpunishment due to it. Whatever takes away these two thingsfrom that man's soul, opens thegate of heaven to him.Now, what opens a gate is fittingly called a key. The power toremove sin, both as to guilt and debt of eternal punishment, isbestowed by Christ on his Church and on the priest of his Church;this power, especially exercised in the sacrament of penance, isfiguratively called "the power of the keys."

2. The "keys" are the power of binding andloosing given to the Church by our Lord; more specifically, the"keys" are the power given to priests to forgivesins.

3. Now, there are two keys, and they are distinguishedfrom each other by their respective acts: the one is the key ofjudging whether sins are to be forgiven or retained; the otheris the key of absolving from sin. When these two keys areused (when the penitent is judged worthy and is absolved from hissins) the gate of heaven is opened to the penitent.

"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
St Augustine

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"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God."
St Philip Neri

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"The Lord has always revealed to mortals the treasures of his wisdom and his spirit, but now that the face of evil bares itself more and more, so does the Lord bare his treasures more."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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