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The Passion of Christ: Cause of the Forgiveness of Sins

("Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 82-84, 1937 Imp.)


Third Week in Lent Sunday





He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his
own blood. -Apoc. i. 5.


The Passion of Christ is the proper cause of the
remission of our sins, and that in three ways.


1. Because it provokes us to love God. St. Paul
says, God commendeth his charity towards us;
because when as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us 

(Rom. v. 8).


Through charity we obtain forgiveness for sin,
as it says in the gospel, Many sins are forgiven her,
because she hath loved much (Luke vii. 47).


2. The Passion of Christ is the cause of the
forgiveness of sins because it is an act of redemp-
tion. Since Christ is himself our head, he has,
by his own Passion -undertaken from love and
obedience- delivered us his members from our
sins, as it were at the price of his Passion. Just
as a man might by some act of goodness done with
his hands buy himself off for a wrong thing he
had done with his feet. For as man's natural
body is a unity, made up of different limbs, so the
whole Church, which is the mystical body of Christ,
is reckoned as a single person with its own head,
and this head is Christ.


3. The Passion of Christ was a thing equal
to its task. For the human nature through which
Christ suffered his Passion is the instrument of
His divine nature. Whence all the actions and
all the sufferings of that human nature wrought
to drive out sin, are wrought by a power that
is divine.


Christ, in His Passion, delivered us from our
sins in a causal way, that is to say, he set up for
us a thing which would be a cause of our emanci-
pation, a thing whereby any sin might at any time
be remitted, whether committed now, or in times
gone by, or in time to come: much as a physician
might make a medicine from which all who are
sick may be healed, even those sick in the years
yet to come.


But since what gives the Passion of Christ its
excellence is the fact that it is the universal cause
of the forgiveness of sins, it is necessary that we
each of us ourselves make use of it for the for-
giveness of our own particular sins. This is done
through Baptism, Penance and the other sacra-
ments, whose power derives from the Passion
of Christ.


By faith also we make use of the Passion of
Christ, in order to receive its fruits, as St. Paul says,
Christ Jesus, whom God hath proposed to be a propitia-
tion, through faith in his blood (Rom. iii 25). But the
faith by which we are cleansed from sin is not that
faith which can exist side by side with sin the
faith called formless but faith formed, that is
to say, faith made alive by charity. So that the
Passion of Christ is not through faith applied merely
to our understanding but also to our will. Again,
it is from the power of the Passion of Christ that
the sins are forgiven which are forgiven by faith in
this way.

(3 49 1).


Blessed be St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles!


The Papal Restoration Staff

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