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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.

"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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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "
Thomas á Kempis

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