Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sacred Sunday: Why Do Catholics Do That?

Why Do We, as Catholics, Confess Our Sins to Priests?

(photo from Google Image Search;

Jesus Christ gave his disciples (by extension, priests) the power not only to "loose" sins (i.e., forgive in god's name), but also to "bind" (i.e., impose penances: Matthew 16:19, 18:18; John 20:23), as the representatives of God and ambassadors of His mercy. The absolution imparted by the priest is not a mere expression of hope but a sacramental, objective reality. One also learns humility by this practice, receives additional grace in order to avoid sin, and attains a certainty of forgivenes, which is superior to the mere subjective feelings. This Catholic practice is frimly grounded in Scripture and early and constant Christian Tradition.

Catholics are required to repent of (contrition) and confess all mortal, or grave, sins to a priest, in order to be absolved. The priest assings a penance (satisfaction), which removes the temporal punishment of sin. The famous Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton wrote:

"...the Church deduces that sin confessed and adequately repented is actualy abolished; and that the sinner does really begin again as if he had never sinned...God has really remade him in His own image. He is now a new experiment of the Creator. He is as much a new experiment as he was when he was really only five years old."

With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, 
in words of praise. 
With his whole being he loved his Maker 
and daily had his praises sung...
The Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever...
Sirach 47:8 and 11

(Other Related Scripture: Leviticus 19:20-22; Numbers 5:607; Psalms 32:5: Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 43:25; Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:5; Luke 15:18-19; John 20:21-23; Acts 19:18; 2 Corinthians 5:8-20; James 5;16; 1 John 1:8-9) 

Disclaimer: I am not the author of the above. All information came out of "The Catholic Answer Bible" version of The New American Bible.


Anonymous said...

I never understood the power of confession growing up. As a matter of fact, I hardly understood it as an adult. But God's Grace revealed to me the healing power of it and gave me the courage to attempt to teach my children more powerfully than I was taught.

I wouldn't say that it's "fun" to go to confession, but I definitely enjoy the peace that accompanies my trip!

MJ said...

Confession has always been a mistery to me due to lack of religious education. Now that I have a better understanding, it is a wonderful gift He has blessed us with.
Hoping you are having a wonderful weekend at work!

Willoughby said...

That was a wonderful, easy to understand explanation of confession.

Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler said...

I'm a complete sinner, but there is something so psychologically attractive and sensual about the rite of confession. All that revealing of transgression, the humiliation, the power structures, it all gets conflated for me into one big Freudian mess. If you began, I don't think you could ever end unpacking the significance of Catholic confession.

I used to go to a Polish National Catholic Church, though, so we didn't do that. We just recounted our sins to ourselves and were absolved en masse.

Anonymous said...

Ah, confession. There is nothing like the feeling you get after you let go of you sins. Thanks for the info.

Corrie Howe said...

Thanks for sharing this very important aspect of your faith for others to understand.

gayle said...

I miss the Catholic Church!!

Kimberly said...

Such a cleansing.

Betty Manousos said...

A wonderful explanation of confession, Polly


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