History of the Church


ATTRITION, as distinct from contrition, is an imperfect sorrow for sin. Contrition is that sorrow for sin which has for its motive the love of God, whom the sinner has offended. Attrition arises from a motive which is indeed supernatural, that is to say, apprehended by faith, but which still falls short of contrition. Such motives are the fear of hell, the loss of heaven, the turpitude of sin. By this last, we understand the turpitude of sin as revealed by faith. We may also, for the sake of clearness, exclude from our definition that kind of sorrow which theologians call serviliter servilis the sorrow which makes a man renounce sin because he is afraid of hell, while at the same time he would be ready to offend God if he could do so without incurring the penalty.

All Catholics are bound to hold that attrition, as explained above, is good and an effect of God's grace. This is clear from the words of our Lord, "Fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell;" from the declaration of the Tridentine Council, that attrition which proceeds from considering "the baseness of sin, or from the fear of hell and punishment, if it excludes the purpose of sinning and includes the hope of pardon, . . . . is a true gift of God and an impulse of the Holy Spirit;" and from subsequent pronouncements of the Popes, particularly of Alexander VIII. The Council put forward this Catholic truth against Luther, and succeeding Popes against the Jansensists.

Further, the Council of Trent teaches that attrition does not of itself avail to justify the sinner. Sin which separates the soul from God is only annulled by love which unites it to him.

But a question was long keenly debated among Catholic divines, viz. whether if a man comes with attrition to the sacrament of penance and receives absolution, this avails to restore him to God's grace. The negative opinion was held by the French clergy in their assembly general of the year 1700, and prevailed in the universities of Paris and Louvain. On the other hand, the affirmative, according to which a sinner who receives absolution with attrition is justified through the grace which the sacrament confers, has always apparently been the commoner tenet in the schools. It rests on the strong argument that as perfect contrition justifies without the actual reception of the sacrament of penance, it is hard to see why this sacrament should have been instituted, if perfect contrition is needed to get any good from it. Alexander VII. in 1667 forbade the advocates of either opinion to pronounce any theological censure on their opponents. But at present the opinion that attrition with the sacrament of penance suffices is universally held. St. Liguori calls it certain.


AUREOLE (from aureolus, golden, gilt, of golden color). 1. In Christian art it is the gold color surrounding the whole figure in sacred pictures, and representing the glory of the person represented. It is distinct from the nimbus, which only covers the head. The aureole (also called scutum, vesica, piscis, etc.) was usually reserved for pictures of the three divine Persons, of Christ, and of the Blessed Virgin along with the Holy Child. (Kraus, "Archaeol. Dict.")

2. In theology, it is defined as a certain accidental reward added to the essential bliss of heaven, because of the excellent victory which the person who receives it has attained during his warfare upon earth. It is given, according to St. Thomas, to virgins, martyrs, and to doctors and preachers. Virgins have triumphed with special glory over the flesh; martyrs, over the world, which persecuted them to death; preachers, over the devil, whom they have driven, not only from their own hearts, but also from those of others.


THIS familiar prayer, called also the Angelical Salutation, consists of three parts (I) the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel, Ave [Maria] gratia, plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus; (2) the words of Elizabeth to our Lady, et benedictus fructus ventris tui; (3) an addition made by the Church, Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Parts 1 and 2 seem to have come into common use as a formula of devotion towards the end of the twelfth century; the use of them is enjoined by the Constitutions of Odo, bishop of Paris, in 1196. The third part gives a compact and appropriate expression to the feelings with which Christians regard the Blessed Virgin. The words nunc . . . nostrae are said to have come from the Franciscans; the rest of the verse is believed to have first come into use in the middle of the fifteenth century. The whole Ave Maria as it now stands is ordered in the breviary of Pius V. (1568) to be used daily before each canonical hour and after Compline.


THE proclamation of intended marriage, in order that if anyone is aware of an impediment, he may state it to the ecclesiastical authorities, and so prevent the celebration of the wedding. Such proclamations were introduced first of all by the custom of particular places, but it was not till 1215 that they were imposed, at the Fourth Lateran Council, by a general law binding the whole Church. The Council of Trent orders the banns to be proclaimed by the parish priest of the persons who intend to marry, during Mass on three continuous festivals. At the same time, it permits the ordinary to dispense from the obligation of proclaiming the marriage for a grave reason. According to theologians and the S. Congregation of the Council, the banns must be proclaimed in the parish church of the contracting parties, and in each parish church if they live in different parishes, at the principal Mass on three continuous Sundays or holidays of obligation or at least on days when there is sure to be a concourse of people in the church. It is generally held that if the marriage does not take place within two months, or at most four, of the last publication, the banns must be proclaimed anew.

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