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18. The Effect of the Keys

1. The power of the keys remits the guilt ofsins, for grace is given by the sacrament of penance, and graceremoves guilt.

2. The power of the keys, through the priest'sabsolution, takes away the eternal punishment owed to sinin strict justice; the power of the keys also takes away at leastpart of the temporal punishment due to sins.

3. The priest exercises the binding power of thekeys (the power that keeps the gate locked), when he judges thatabsolution must not be given to the confessing sinner, andtherefore refuses to give it. The binding power of thekeys is also exercised in the imposing of "a penance" onthe forgiven sinner; for here, while the keys open heaven to theforgiven sinner, they lock him into the obligation of performing awork of satisfaction.

4. The priest in confession does not exercise the power ofthe keys as he chooses, or according to his personal likes,dislikes, or prejudices. The priest exercises the power of the keysin his office as God's minister, wielding in the sacrament ofpenance God's own authority and power, and hence he acts withcare, discretion, and reverence, prudently consulting thesacredness of the sacrament on the one hand, and, on the other, thedisposition and the needs of the confessing sinner.

"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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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"Men should often renew their good resolutions, and not lose heart because they are tempted against them."
St Philip Neri

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