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19. The Minister of the Keys

1. The priesthood of the Old Law was not dowered with thepower of the keys. But the priest of the Old Law had powers whichforeshadowed and prefigured the power of the keys.

2. Before all others, our Lord himself has mostexcellently thepower of the keys. He owns this power as God;he merits it as man. And this wondrous power he conferred on thepriests of his Church.

3. The power of the keys pertains to holy order, andexclusively to priests. {-Sometimes the phrase"the power of the keys" is used, by extension of meaning,for the power of jurisdiction in Church or diocese; that is, thepower and right to rule, to authorize, to excommunicate. But thisuse of the phrase is not common.-}

4. No matter how holy a layman may be, he has not thepower of the keys, nor can he, as a layman, acquire it.

5. The power of the keys belongs to the priesthood assuch. It does not depend for its effect on the state of soul (graceor sin) of the priest who exercises it.

6. Schismatical, heretical, and excommunicated priestsretain the essence of the power of the keys, but they lack theright to use it, that is, they lack jurisdiction. The Church, bywithdrawing jurisdiction from priests who are outside her pale,removes all true penitents from such confessors. No penitent couldsincerely present himself to such confessors; if he did soknowingly he would sin, and no man can obtain absolution from sinby sinning.

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

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