Tag Archives: Confession

Open Persecution of the Catholic Clergy has begun in Victoria State, Australia

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

As of yesterday, any Catholic Priest hearing confessions in the State of Victoria, Australia, can be arrested on the spot. All the authorities need is to send an agent and pretend to confess the sin of pedophilia. And then wait the statutory length of time for the priest to report the sin to the local authorities, and if he does not, arrest him on the spot. (See yesterdays’ report in The Age)

But if a priest were to do as the new law requires, then he would fall foul of one of the most severe penalities in Church Law.  Because to violate the seal of confession every Cardinal, Bishop or priest, earns an immediate latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the Apostolic See, according to canon 1381 §1. Reserve, here, means that it cannot be lifted except by direct, verbal intervention of the Roman Pontiff or his delegated subordinate.

Canon 1371 §1 reads as follows

Can. 1388 – § 1. Confessarius, qui sacramentale sigillum directe violat, in excommunicationem latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatam incurrit; qui vero indirecte tantum, pro delicti gravitate puniatur.

§ 2. Interpres aliique, de quibus in can. 983, § 2, qui secretum violant, iusta poena puniantur, non exclusa excommunicatione.

Which in English would be:

Canon 1388 – §1. The confessor, who directly violates the sacramental seal, incurrs an excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See; but who does so only indirectly, let him be punished according to the gravity of the delict.

§2.  The translator and anyone else, spoken of in canon 983 §2, who violate the secret, let them be punished with a just punishment, not excluding excommunication.

Grave violations of Religious Liberty

The law which was pushed by anti-Catholic bigots, secularists, feminists, atheists and Muslims, is intended to completely destroy the Catholic Religion. This is because the confession of sins is a central act of the Catholic Faith which is a necessity of every Catholic at least once every year. If Catholics know their priest is willing to break the seal of confession for any reason, they will not be able to practice their religion.

The law also allows open persecution of the Catholic Clergy. Any priest, who might speak out on any topic, can now be targeted by this entrapment at any time he hears confession. Let us not imagine that this law will NOT be used to attack the Clergy who speak out against abortion, sodomy, Freemasonry, etc..

Ways Priests can protect themselves

Priests can protect themselves by affirming publicly that they have no intention of abiding the by the law. This is a pastoral and moral necessity to prevent the loss of faith among the faithful of confidence in the clergy during the administration of such a sacrament.

At the same time, they can refuse absolution to anyone who actually does confess such a sin, if that person does not agree to self-report himself, and have him, upon such agreement, sign a contract authorizing the priest to report him. This would not violate the seal, because it is not a crime for the penitent to violate or authorize the violation of the secret. And his signing of the contract in the confessional would be a free act authorizing such a revelation.

Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori, doctor of the Church on moral questions, has long ago counseled priests to refuse absolution if penitents are not willing to make restitution or report themselves to authorities for such grave crimes as murder or homicide.

However, since the Church seeks first of all the forgiveness of sin, it remains that this law is nefarious in the highest manner and must be publicly denounced in the strongest terms by all the faithful.

Bishops should fight back

Any Catholic in civil authority who insists on such a law is clearly subject to canonical penalties and who solicits such a revelation of the seal from a priest, causing him to make such a revelation is ipso facto excommunicated by Canon 1329 §1 as an accomplice. Bishops should declare their intention to declare and impose such a penalty, to make it absolutely clear that they will not go down without a fight.

A Law which cuts both ways

Finally, the law has obviously come out of the mind of someone who does not have the foggiest notion of what Confession is or how it is practiced. Because perhaps 99% of the penitents who come to make confession are unknown to the priest. In confession, the identity of the penitent is not disclosed by the penitent. So against whom would a priest file a report, if he did observe the law? He could just as well tell the police the penitent looked like a member of Victorian Parliament which passed the law, than a Catholic whom he has never seen before. Is Victoria State prepared to start arresting everyone on the word of every Catholic priest?

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CREDITS:  The Featured Image is a screen shot from the article in The Age, newspaper, cited here above in this editorial and is used in accord with the fair use standard for such commentary.

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How to make a valid Confession

By Br. Alexis Bugnolo

I could have entitled this article, How to make a good confession, but that title is so commonly used as to mean almost nothing. So in this article I want to talk about making a valid confession, on account of what that adjective means.

VALID

Valid comes from the Latin adjective, validus, which means having the strength to prevail to accomplish what was intended to be done. The word remains in some forms of speech, such as, He was a valid candidate for special forces training.

Valid therefore implies effectiveness and strength as well as real, in the sense of valuable and worth it.

A Valid Confession

In manuals of moral theology and of sacramental theology, the term, valid confession, is used to signify the reception of the Sacrament of Penance which is efficacious to obtain the forgiveness of sins. And this is generally held to occur under certain circumstances which are easily obtained: (1) confession of the sins, according to kind and number, (2) sorrow for having offended God, (3) fear of eternal damnation,  (4) resolution to sin no more and do the penance prescribed.

But Saint Alphonsus de Liguori counsels confessors that they should not so lightly judge a penitent well disposed, they should put him to the test.

And if the priest knew well the sources and causes of every vice, then he would be well prepared to put penitents to the test.

But not all priests are so familiar with all sins, because, sad to say, there is much about sins which only is known by the one committing them, even if the one committing them knows least of all the reasons not to commit them!

For that reason it is more important today, that you, the one confessing properly prepare yourself, because it will be most likely that the priest won’t know how to help you. It may even be that he does not want to help you prepare.

Sad to say, but true, the modern practice of the Sacrament of Penance is badly distorted from its Catholic foundations. Why it is not even called “Penance” any more. It is called, reconciliation, as term which implies that you have some comparable dignity to God to entreat with Him. Also the Sacrament is presented as a self-help dump-your-guilt-and-get-on-with-life ritual, which is as appealing to the normal human being as seeing a shrink: a vain form of self exhibitionism. If that is what you are seeking, do not read this Article. What I write here is for those who want to get to Heaven. Those who want to dump their guilt and get on with life in this world are in the chains of the devil and it is much better than they never receive the Sacrament in that spirit than abuse it with such a vicious mindset.

A Confession is more serious than a visit to the Hospital

But everyone should take the occasion of going to Confession as something much more serious than going to the Hospital or seeing your doctor. And you should approach the Sacrament with as much necessity and urgency as if you had a very painful toothache which drove you to see a Dentist. This is because not only of what it can do for your soul and body — save it from eternal damnation — but how powerful it can be for your eternal destiny. For some Saints one single confession set them on the path to holiness and transformed their life for ever. And this is the goal of this Sacrament, which in its own way, can be more efficacious personally to you than any other Sacrament after Baptism and Chrism (Confirmation).

Thus, all of us should go to Confession as soon as possible and with the right preparation. If we consider that if we do not get it right, our confession will merit us another mortal sin and another worse punishment in this world and in Hell, then we should prepare carefully. We should be more careful the more the priest who is hearing confessions is less experienced or foolish as to give everyone absolution. A thing which Saint Alphonsus dei Liguori says is a gross abuse, but a thing  for which Modernists bishops will severely punish any priest to attempts to deny anyone the Sacrament even when badly or not properly disposed.

The Causes of a valid Confession are the starting point

The causes of a valid confession are the starting point for a good examination of conscience, without which a good confession cannot be made. I say it is the starting point, because knowledge is not sufficient for a valid confession. You also have to be seriously  and honestly repentant.

The examination of conscience in modern times consists in giving the penitent a list of the 10 commandments written at the level of perhaps a 6th grader and asking yourself if you did anything on the list. This is atrocious malpractice.

Examining one’s conscience should rather look at the entire cause of the act, the decision to do the act and the reasons or motives which led to the act.

THE ACT

I mean by, the act, the sinful act. Many fixate on how many times they did it, but not on the gravity of consent in doing it. Was it premeditated or spontaneous, was it done with light or intense passion or emotion. Did the act harm others, was the act done in a circumstance wherein it disedified others. Usually one act is much more grave than it appears on account of whom it harms, when it was done, and the levity or gravity it was one with.

THE DECISION

Did you make it aware or unaware. Did you act under the influence outside you, or of emotions within, on the basis of faulty knowledge, mistaken judgements. It is not often, especially in modern times, that sins are made without thinking, due to the habit many have of practicing never to think of the morality of things, never to make judgements upon whether an act is evil or good. This is a grave vice, and is a sign that you are failing in faith or have lost the grace of God entirely. To live as an atheist, is to be an unbeliever. But to recognize evil as evil and good as good, is to recognize that God alone is Good and worthy of all love and obedience.

THE REASONS OR MOTIVES

If you with levity committed a mortal sin, that makes it very serious, because it shows that your entire conscience is darkened by a disdain or lack of valuation placed on things eternal, such as your own salvation, and on things divine, such as God’s Majesty and your duty to him. A mortal sin done with levity indicates, therefore, that the sinner is probably gravely failing in his duties as a Catholic.

If you committed mortal sin with great and intense passion, that makes it very serious in another way, because it indicates that your will is utterly depraved and lacks the charity for God, neighbor and yourself, to restrain violent movements. This is a strong indication that you were in mortal sin before committing the act, by reason of other sins or the same sin previously done but never repented of.

If you fell into the same sin, it indicates that you have not yet discovered the causes of your sinning in previous occasions, and most likely never resolved firmly to repent of them. Remember, it is not possible to resolve not to do something, if you as of yet do not understand why you did it. An examination of conscience has to be very graphically honest. Many fail here because they put the blame on some thing or some person or some occasion, when in truth a man sins only because his judgement is corrupted by attachments to creatures, in such wise, as he is open to the possibility of committing acts of idolatrous sacrifice — in this case of his own eternal salvation — to worship at their altars.

CONFESSION OF SINS

So a good examination of conscience must include the following:

  • Identify the kind and number of sins
  • Identify the evil loves or attachments on account of which you decided to sin
  • Identify the truths which you ignore or are ignorant of, which would have given your conscience light to say what you were about to do was evil

It is more important that you confess the kind of sin than the number, because you can always tell the confessor that the exact number of times is unknown or vaguely known. But you cannot conceal the kind of sin, though this does not mean you have to be graphic in your description.

SORROW FOR SIN

But more important than this first step, is the second: being truly sorry for your sin. This can only be achieved by a humble comparison of what you did and what you merit  for it. And in this step, do not even consider the Mercy of God, because your sin merits no mercy. And if you do not become truly sorry, you will never get the Mercy promised in the Sacrament.

  • Contemplate the eternal damnation which you merited for each mortal sin, or which you risk by each venial sin
  • Grieve in your heart and soul until you produce strong and stinging remorse for your sins, whether you cry or not. This can only be had by recognizing that sin offends a God of Infinite Majesty, and as high is His Majesty so, so profound is the punishment for rebellion against Him.

It is not nothing that the term for the proper kind of sorrow is called, contrition, from the Latin verb to crush to dust. You should strive in your Examination of conscience to crush your pride, topple your interior idols, and wring out your soul in tremendous sorrow for having done such evil, so easily, so carelessly, so quickly, so glibly. For this one needs to recognize profoundly that in truth we can do nothing meritorious, that the only thing which is really of our own making, in the moral order, is sin. That we are indeed in comparison to the Holy Angels a pile of crap, without God’s grace to transform us into holy sons of God. That of ourselves we can not repent or practice virtue without the help and grace of God.

Contrition, thus, implies the prayer of petition, humbly made, as by a beggar on death’s door, before the throne of an Infinite God of Justice who will take no excuse. Unlike the false images of mercy bandied about, you cannot obtain mercy unless you first exact justice upon yourself, in a just judgement of what you have done, and what you are worthy of.

FEAR OF DAMNATION

For this reason, contrition cannot exist or rise up in the soul without FEAR of eternal damnation. Fear of ETERNAL damnation and fear of eternal DAMNATION. All three are necessary. It has to be the sentiment and emotion of fear, the mere intellectual recognition will never produce contrition. It has to regard damnation, not just a slap on the wrist. And that means you have to already fear Hell. If you do not fear Hell, then you are probably in the state of mortal sin already, and this should be an alarm bell to your soul. And it has to regard the eternity of Hell, because the gravity of offending an infinite God is not perceived unless one recognizes the eternity of punishment for it as proportionate and just. And this means you should meditate on Hell before every Confession.

FIRM PROPOSAL TO CHANGE ONE’S LIFE

The final cause of a valid confession is that when you approach to confess you have already resolved never to sin again. If you do not have that intention DO NOT go to confession, because you will commit a mortal sin of deceit. This kind of mortal sin of deceit is very common, because so many confess to be relieved of the sense of guilt, not of the vice which produced the sin or the sin itself.

This proposal must include never to commit the sin again, to make reparation for the sin, to repair the injustice suffered by others on account of your sin or your bad example. Failing in any of these, and you probably are not really sorry for your sin, you just want to use the Sacrament to pretend you are not guilty for your sins any more.

And do not fool yourself. If you do not know why you sinned, if you do not recognize the errors which you embraced which allowed yourself to excuse yourself so as to commit the sin, if you do not know the moral law well enough to know the sins which led you to your sin, then you cannot possibly have a firm proposal.

This is the PRINCIPAL reason why one should find a holy priest to be one’s confessor, and a learned priest. The combination is very rare, but better a holy priest who is ignorant than a learned priest who is not holy. Because the latter will give you excuses, while the former will give you harder penances. It is when you are in the confessional with the priest, that you should ask for advice how to firmly propose not to sin again,  and beg him to convince you of that, otherwise do not accept Absolution, but rather tell him you are not prepared.

When we approach the Sacrament of Penance properly we obtain a miracle of grace, the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our souls to eternal life. If we ask Christ, in our hearts, at the time of absolution for the virtues to never sin again, especially those contrary to our sins, we can obtain these virtues back too, in proportion to our sorrow for sin and our sorrow for having offended Him who is infinite Love Itself.

The Sacrament of Penance properly received, therefore, is the greatest enemy of Satan.

Use it frequently, use it well.

A CORRECT ACT OF CONTRITION

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
And I detest all my sins, not only because by them
I have merited everlasting damnation in Hell,

But most of all because I have offended Thee,
Who are infinitely Good and worthy of all my love.

Therefore, trusting in Thy Grace, I firmly resolve to sin no more,
to avoid the near occasion of these sins
and to do penance for them. Amen.

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo taken by Br. Bugnolo of a wooden confessional at the Basilica of the Most Holy Savior, St John Lateran, here at Rome. The inscription reads: For those confessing in Italian.

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How to Pray: Part I, preparation

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

One of the most necessary things which most Catholics do poorly or omit frequently is prayer. And if you have had the grace and occasion to read the life of a true Saint, the first thing see in them is that they were devoted to God in prayer.

Without a doubt all Catholics pray and thus know how to pray to a certain degree. But why is it that so few become great Saints? — It is because nearly all of us for nearly all our lives never learn to pray correctly or well.

Yet prayer is the essence of faith, because, if faith leads us to assent to what God has revealed, then what is faith if it is not put into action by prayer. It is not only dead, it is frozen. Yes, faith is a virtue in the intellect and which governs the will, but a faith which does not pray is like a human being who has lobotomized himself. It is simply unnatural.

A definition of prayer

Saint John Bosco, whose feast was celebrated yesterday, held that the best way to educate students is to start with the best definitions.

Prayer is defined best of all as conversation or communication with God or one of His Saints in Heaven: by Saints, I mean the Holy Angels, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and all the holy souls who have merited to be glorified with God in Heaven.

Motives for prayer

As we can see from our mundane human life, it is hard to live without talking to someone some of the time. Even the most reclusive hermit must speak with some human beings for those necessities which he cannot procure with the work of his own hands.

And this observation helps us understand that there are fundamental reasons for prayer. We pray for what we need, or for what we see others need. Our prayer can be motivated by trials or tribulations, which shock us into realizing we are in need. Or it can be motivated by our hope for better things in the future, or by our compassion for those who are in need, especially for those in darkness, doubt, despair, want, or confusion.

A lot of motives can bring us to pray, just as a lot of motives can bring us to talk to another person.

As Our Lord explained in the Book of Job, the motivation is not so important, as the praying. Even if you motives are not perfect or even wrong, you pay God respect by speaking with Him, even more respect than theologians who speak about Him but not to Him, as Jobs friends did.

How to dispose yourself to prayer

But it behooves, us, just as when speaking to other human beings, that when we pray to God or a Saint, we are properly disposed.  Being properly disposed regards things interior and exterior and things spiritual and material. It also regards things supernatural and natural. So let’s examine these.

INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR DISPOSITIONS

Obviously you cannot pray if you are thinking of something else. This is the first interior disposition. And obviously, unless you are quite adept of mind, you cannot pray intensely if you are doing something else. This is the first exterior disposition.

Now, in the modern world, when everyone is trying to do as much as possible, it seems strange to say this. But this necessity of not doing or thinking of something else is just as necessary when talking to others. Yes, if you are watching TV you can still respond to your wife’s question about who is going to take out the garbage. But when you go to a job interview you better not watch TV on your cellphone, during the interview!

Get my point?

Yes, there are times and there should be times that we praise God and express our affection for Him and His Saints when we are doing other things. This is true and right and very good. But such expressions are the matter of praise, and are obligations of faith and charity and hope. They help us sanctify the day in all we do. But they are low grade prayer, because they do not give God the attention He deserves, which is infinitely beyond the attention we should give someone who is considering to hire us for a job. — I say low grade, not according to their essence, because to praise God is the highest and perhaps the most meritorious of all prayers, but they are low grade in the way they are offered, while doing something else.

SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL DISPOSITIONS

Spiritually, then, we should put aside all other thoughts or imaginations, and clear the clutter of our minds. This can only be done by an act of will. But not all understand that their will has this power, because they have never done it. This ability is like the ability to clean up your own room. If you never have done it, you do not know how to start and get it done. If you do it regularly, there is not much to do and you finish quickly.

For this reason, mortification, self denial and abstinence and fasting are corporal practices which help us clear the mind, because the distractions of the mind are all tied to things which are external or imaginations of things which are external. When we break with things which we love too much, we will clear our minds of the thoughts of them. This is why spiritual and material disposition go hand in hand. In fact, the first year students in Scholastic Theology at Paris in the 13th century were confronted by the shocking truth, told by Master Peter Lombard, that it is wrong to rejoice in anything, but God. Meditate on that for a while, and it will help you clear your mind by enabling to see how all the clutter in it opposes true joy and is a warning sign of idolatry of some kind or another.

There is also the material disposition of putting yourself in a place suitable for prayer and removing things from your presence which are distracting. This rule for prayer is why the Catholic Church has built so many Churches and Chapels and Convents and Shrines.

SUPERNATURAL AND NATURAL DISPOSITIONS

Naturally, we should dispose ourselves for prayer by proper preparation, that is, by doing things which raise our mind to God and prepare us to enter into prayer, such as being silent and still, turning our eyes to Sacred Images, or even reading some Scripture or part of a life of a Saint who inspires us.

Supernaturally we dispose ourselves to prayer by the practice of Key Virtues.

FAITH in God, that He is who He has revealed Himself to be.

HOPE in God, that He will be faithful to His promises to reward those who seek Him and who call upon Him.

LOVE for God, by which we exalt God above all our other desires and make ready to sacrifice not only the time of prayer but all other things which keep us from Him.

HUMILITY before God, by recognizing we do not deserve anything but punishment for our sins.

DISDAIN AND REVULSION for sin and vice, by which we detach our soul from things which drag us down to Hell.

The Crown of all, though, is being in the State of Grace

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This is the teaching of Saint Paul. And this means if you believe the whole and true Catholic Faith, you can have the right motivation to beg God for grace even if you are in the state of Mortal sin, where you cannot merit to obtain anything from God, even if you do pray.

We cannot merit in the state of mortal sin or outside the state of grace, because we are  not in communion with God. Our souls, in such a state, reek with sin and darkness and are revolting to God. But we can even in such a state, by faith, beg for grace and beg the Saints to pray for us. And our having true Faith will merit us to be heard if we are humble, penitent and truly wish to be saved at all costs, and persevere until we obtain the grace of repentence, even if we must seek it for years on end.

But the State of Grace is the absolute necessity for efficacious prayer for all other graces, because just as the TV will not work without electricity, so the soul which is not plugged into the Holy Spirit, as it were, by being in the state of sanctifying grace, cannot function properly in prayer.

And Thus Confession is the door to efficacious Prayer

The Saints in life obtained great things by their prayers. And yet we might ask ourselves why this is not the case with us. This is because a lot more of us are in the state of mortal sin than we realize. Even those of us who have confessed our sins: not because the Sacrament of Confession does not work, but because we never went with a truly contrite heart and with a firm resolution. And in most cases this is because the priest never explained to us the evil of our sin and how to avoid it, and the roots of our sin and how to uproot them.

For example, some weeks go, I wrote an article on purity. See here. I can tell you that in my more than 45 years of going to confession regularly, I have never met a priest who knows how to explain in what consists the sin of impurity. Nearly all are confused into thinking it consists in looking or thinking or admiration. Few of them know how to describe consent to the movement of lust, which is what the sin consists in. That means that all those who go to confession to them are most likely never freed from their vice and thus remain objectively in mortal sin.

As Saint Alphonsus says, we should never presume before a sin, that God will give us true repentance. This is especially true of the sins of impurity. They are a deeply addictive scourge from which few escape even after lives of fidelity to God in all other things. These folks may not be judged by God as guilty of remaining in the vice, because they are so ignorant and have no one to shepherd them, but God nevertheless must justly judge them as liable for the sins and vice and must, therefore, withhold His graces in prayer.

This is why Confession and confessing well, scrubbing the soul down to our deepest desires and affections and hating and detesting with all the force of our minds and hearts the movements of our soul and body which led us to sin, is absolutely essential preparation for prayer. And this is why Saint Theresa of Avila says the first part of the spiritual life is learning to break from sin and mortify our evil passions. Only once we do that, are we, as it were plugged into God and can benefit by prayer in something more than the grace to repent. Until that time, we should beg God for the grace to be truly sorry for our sins and examine our consciences with no self respect until, in tears and groanings, we lament our wickedness and realize not only that without God we are nothing and merit the everlasting damnation of Hell fire, but that the very evil movements of our soul, which we have long permitted, are our eternal enemies and the works which we must entirely and forever reject.

In this regard, alas, most priests have been poorly trained. If you start to cry in confession or express doubt that you are truly sorry, they attempt to convince you that you are overdoing it or taking religion too seriously or are unstable or upset or scrupulous. The pitiable penances given after Vatican II show that the clergy have not received the proper formation to save souls. They think they are there to assuage consciences.

There is so much evil in the world today, that I do not think there is anyone actually scrupulous too much about how sorry he should be for his sins. Most saints wept their entire life for the few sins of their youth, and yet we, after a confession prance out of the Confessional as if we were sinless. That is totally wrong.

The Church in ancient times had a practice which was saner, in my opinion. The priests first imposed a penance, which lasted months or years, and only after faithfully completing it, did you receive absolution and were readmitted to communion. Many a Saint is a saint, because having realized the enormity of his sins, he became a monk or religious so as to do a life time of penance for the horrors he committed in his youth.

The obsession of so many clergy today to have married men ordained or ordained men allowed to marry, is a clear sign that many even in the clergy, have never made a good confession. For a contrite man fears the occasions of sin. And if God Incarnate Who could not sin and Whose human Flesh had no inclination to sin, never married, how much more ought we sinful men avoid the occasions of impurity, especially if we are called to the sublime service of God! — And do not quote the practice of the Eastern Rites. Married clergy was allowed in Council to keep priests from fornicating, not to make them holier priests!

So if you want to pray well, prepare well for prayer. Prayer is the only thing the Saints do in Heaven, it is literally our eternal destiny. Dedication to humble prayer is a sign of predestination. Preparation for praying well is preparation for Heaven.

Therefore, be humble, prepare and pray!

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CREDITS: The Featured Image is a faithful reproduction of Duccio di Buoninsegna’s, Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and is in the public domain. Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden is a model for the prayers of sinners who need to break with sin, choosing repentance at the cost of all sacrifice rather than eternal death, as well as the proper dispositions we should have when we seek God’s favors for ourselves or for others in prayer.

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