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The Power of the Keys

 

The Power of the Keys


After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations. The apostles and their successors carry out this ministry of reconciliation, not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:


The Church has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.


 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.


Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ's gift to his Church, the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the apostles and their successors.


The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power, that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that he did when he was on earth. Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels .... God above confirms what priests do here below.


Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift. The Creed links the forgiveness of sins with its profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, for the risen Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he gave them the Holy Spirit. 


Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins, it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit. By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance. 


In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification. The Christian Creed - the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God's creative, saving, and sanctifying action - culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting.


We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day. Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity.


If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you. The term "flesh" refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The resurrection of the flesh (the literal formulation of the Apostles' Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our mortal body will come to life again.


Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live. How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.... But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 

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