Epistle of Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

2 Corinthians 3:4-9

Brethren: Such confidence we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.


Verse 5-6. To think any thing of ourselves, that may deserve a reward in heaven. — But Christ hath made us fit ministers of his New Testament by the Spirit: for the letter of the Old Testament killeth, but the Spirit of the New Testament giveth life. Wi. — The letter. Not rightly understood, and taken without the spirit. Ch. — This verse, (6th) refers to that in the last chapter, where he says: And for these things who is so fit? Who is so capable of such a ministry? It is God alone who gives us strength, light and grace. I am far from giving a part only to God, and a part to myself. It all exclusively belongs to him. S. Chrys.

Verse 7. Now if the ministration of death: he meaneth the former[1] law, which by giving them a greater knowledge, and not giving graces of itself to fulfil those precepts, occasioned death, was notwithstanding glorious, accompanied with miracles on Mount Sinai, and so that the Israelites, when Moses came down from the mountain, could not bear the glory of his countenance, which he was forced to cover with a veil, when he spoke to them. Shall not the ministration of the Spirit in the new law, which worketh our sanctification and salvation, abound with much greater glory? especially since the old law was to be made void, and pass away. — Neither was that glorified, or to be esteemed glorious, in comparison of the new law, the blessings of the new so far surpassing those of the old law. Wi. — If the law of Moses, written on tables of stone, which was only able to cause death, inasmuch as it gave us light sufficient to know what was right, though it did not give us strength or graces to comply with the obligations imposed by it; if this law, nevertheless, was accompanied with so much glory, that Moses was obliged to put a veil over his face, what must we think of the ministry of the Spirit, and of the glorious duties of the apostleship? How ought our glory to be manifest, and who is fit for such an undertaking. If I thus extol the excellency of my ministry, do not imagine that I attribute any thing to myself. I am unworthy of this office, which so far surpasseth that of Moses, that his glory (v. 10.) could not be truly called glory, when compared with this of ours, which so far excelleth his. Calmet. — The letter of the New Testament also, not truly taken or expounded by the Spirit of God, which is in his Church, must in the same manner be said to kill. See S. Austin, serm. 70. & 100. de tempore. & l. de spirt. & lit. c. 5. 6. & dein.


180: Grace

ST. FELIX III 526-530
Confirmed by Boniface II 
(against the Semipelagians)

Can. 7. If anyone affirms that without the illumination and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,–who gives to all sweetness in consenting to and believing in the truth,–through the strength of nature he can think anything good which pertains to the salvation of eternal life, as he should, or choose, or consent to salvation, that is to the evangelical proclamation, he is deceived by the heretical spirit, not understanding the voice of God speaking in the Gospel:“Without me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]; and that of the Apostle: Not that we are fit to think everything by ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God [2 Cor. 3:5; cf. St. Augustine].

904: The Necessity and Fruit of Satisfaction

SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist

Finally with regard to satisfaction, which of all the parts of penance has been recommended by our Fathers to the Christian people in all ages, and which is especially assailed in our day under the pretext of piety by those who “have an appearance of piety, but who have denied the power thereof” [2 Tim. 3:51], the holy Synod declares that it is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God that the guilt is never forgiven by the Lord without the entire punishment also being remitted [can. 12, 15]. For clear and illustrious examples are found in the Sacred Writings [cf. Gen. 3:16 f.; Num. 12:14 f.; 20:11 f.; 2 Samuel 12:13 f., etc.], besides which divine tradition refutes this error with all possible clarity. Indeed the nature of divine justice seems to demand that those who have sinned through ignorance before baptism may be received into grace in one manner, and in another those who at one time freed from the servitude of sin and the devil, and on receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, did not fear to “violate the temple of God knowingly” [1 Cor. 3:17], “and to grieve the Holy Spirit” [Eph. 4:30]. And it befits divine clemency that sins be not thus pardoned us without any satisfaction, lest, seizing the occasion [Rom. 7:8], and considering sins trivial, we, offering injury and “affront to the Holy Spirit” [Heb. 10:29], fall into graver ones, “treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath” [Rom. 2:5; Jas. 5:3]. For, without doubt, these satisfactions greatly restrain from sin, and as by a kind of rein act as a check, and make penitents more cautious and vigilant in the future; they also remove the remnants Of sin, and destroy vicious habits acquired by living evilly through acts contrary to virtue. Neither was there ever in the Church of God any way considered more secure for warding off impending punishment by the Lord than that men perform these works of penance [Matt. 3:28; 4:17; 11:21 etc.] with true sorrow of soul. Add to this that, while we suffer by making satisfaction for our sins, we are made conformable to Christ Jesus, “who made satisfaction for our sins” [Rom. 5:10; 1 John 2:1 f.], from whom is all our sufficiency [2 Cor. 3:5], having also a most certain pledge from Him that “if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified” [cf. Rom. 8:17]. Neither is this satisfaction which we discharge for our sins so much our own as it is through Jesus Christ; for we who can do nothing of ourselves, as if of ourselves, with the cooperation “of Him who” comforts us, “we can do all things.” Thus man has not wherein to glory; but all “our glorying” [cf. 1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14] is in Christ, “in whom we live, in whom we move” [cf. Acts 17:28], in whom we make satisfaction, “bringing forth fruits worthy of penance” [Luke 3:8] which have their efficacy from Him, by Him are offered to the Father, and through Him are accepted by the Father [can. 13 f.].

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