No certainty of the forgiveness of sins according to the Council of Trent?

“It is not to be said to any one boasting a confidence and certainty of the forgiveness of his sins, that his sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven…As no pious man ought to doubt of the mercy of God, the merit of Christ, and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so every one, while he beholds his own weakness and disinclination, may be in fear and dread respecting his own gracious state” —Council of Trent

Why can’t one be absolutely certain of the forgiveness of their sins?

Regarding the “beholds his own weakness and disinclination” part…is this saying that even with imperfect contrition, one can’t be absolutely certain?

What it’s actually condemning seems to be pride. Read it carefully; it’s saying that he who boasts of forgiveness shall not be forgiven. As sinful humans, we are not to boast of forgiveness, but be humble, mindful of our sinful nature. Always remember the Jesus prayer, and the old man who bowed his head while praying, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” He was forgiven, yet he had no delusions regarding himself: he saw himself as he was, a sinner. On the other hand, if memory serves me, the wealthy man who was exalting himself and his virtues and good acts before God was denied forgiveness.
As for the other part, we should always be mindful of our sinful nature. We are redeemed in Christ, but we are prone to sin. A righteous, humble man knows that he is by nature a sinner and does not exalt himself nor believe vainly in the permanence of his salvation. Rather, he continuously trembles before Christ his God, confessing his sinfulness and trusting in God’s mercy and love.
This is my two cents on the matter. Forgive me if I have not explained it clearly enough. And don’t worry, our God is a merciful and forgiving God.
Hope this helps.

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It’s talking about what protestants believed, ie that their sins (including future sins) are forgiven already after accepting Christ. Keep in mind the Council of Trent is in response to the Protestant reformation.


You’ve posted on this topic several times. I encourage you to get counseling from your pastor, especially if you have anxiety, OCD, or scruples.

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