Skip to comments.Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?
Posted on 03/27/2009 1:53:10 PM PDT by NYer
Of all the objections to the sacrament of reconciliation, the one most often voiced, particularly by Protestants, and sometimes by Catholics is: “I don’t need to go to confession to a priest! The priest is just another human being! All that I need to do is to confess my sins directly to God, and that is enough!”
This objection is flawed on a number of counts:
• Jesus commissioned forgiveness through his apostles. Jesus asked believers to approach God for forgiveness through the apostles who were commissioned to act as his agents.
Jesus told Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
After the resurrection, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:22-23). Priests alone carry out this apostolic role (Canon 965; CCC 1461 and 1462).
This is consistent with our Jewish heritage. When it came to atonement for sins in the Jewish tradition, God instructed Moses to have the people bring a holocaust to the temple, usually an unblemished bullock or lamb.
The sinner was to lay his hands on the head of the animal, symbolically transferring his sins to the animal, and then to slaughter it, to have the animal die in place of the sinner.
The sinner then handed the animal to the priest who offered it on the altar (Leviticus 1:1-5). The priest served as a go-between for the sinner to mediate God’s pardon and peace.
• Catholic sacraments are mediated. The sacraments celebrate the most profound moments of our lives: birth (baptism), the transition to adulthood (confirmation), lifetime commitment (marriage and holy orders), and the end of life (anointing).
Two other sacraments strengthen us for the journey through life: Eucharist, our spiritual sustenance; and penance, the forgiveness of sins.
We need to be fed at least weekly, and because we sin so often, we need to be forgiven regularly. The sacraments are not self-administered. Rather, the priest is the mediator, the linkage or conduit between God and the people, a rich channel of God’s grace.
• A personal encounter with Christ. The priest is not just “another human being,” but one who acts in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. With faith, we believe that when the penitent speaks to the priest, the penitent speaks to Christ, and when the priest speaks, the priest speaks on behalf of Christ. When the priest says, “I absolve you,” it is Christ who absolves (Mark 2:10).
• A community representative. Our sins offend not only God, but the community as well. It is not only impractical to admit our sins to others, but often also ill-advised, because of scandal or grave consequences. When we admit our sins to a priest, we reconcile with the community, and the priest, on behalf of those we have offended, says, “You are forgiven.”
• The personal touch. When we confess our sins to a priest, we are able to receive individualized counsel — advice that fits our unique circumstances — and we can be given a penance that is “medicinal,” specifically tailored to help us in the spiritual healing process (Canon 981).
This article is the 3rd in a 10 part series from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. You may want to bookmark the link to follow the progress of the series.
“All that I need to do is to confess my sins directly to God, and that is enough!”
Actually the Bible says “to one another”
Of course, that is why it is always followed by “in the name of Christ,” right?
How about when he does something naughty?
Actually, the words are, "I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. + Go in peace."
Actually, it says ‘confessing our faults one to another’.
No man has the power to absolve, forgive or in any manner mediate between god and man. No yogis, priests, popes, witch doctors, channelers...nobody!
Fortunately, we have the first amendment or we would be right back under the control of arminian sacerdotalists.
Only Christ has the authority to forgive sins.
"Because you gotta; now sit down and shut up!"
At least that's how Sister Angela explained it to me. It was a tough Detroit neighborhood where there wasn't time to discuss the nuances of Catholic dogma.
I always took the ‘confess to one another’ as more of a therapeutic instrument, especially, as you pointed out, it is not stated as for absolution, nor is it man’s place to absolve. IE, don’t keep your guilt bottled up, let it go...
Until this statement, I was going to let this thread go, but this statement flies in the face of James 5:16 "Be confessing to one another the trespasses, and be praying for one another, that you may be healed;"
Note that James actually calls for confession TO ONE ANOTHER. The rest of the passages cited by this author do not make direct statements about confession.
Strong’s Number: 3900
a sin, misdeed
I like the Protestant version better.
I guess we’ll all find out later.
Jam 5:16 Confess [your] faults ((hamartanō) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Same Greek word
So I guess the priest gets to confess his sins to the layman then, right?
... including the authority to delegate it (John 20:22-23).
(yes, I keep it close along with my Douay-Rheims)
Matt 9:1-8 1 And entering into a boat, he passed over the water and came into his own city. 2 And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. 3 And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. 7 And he arose, and went into his house. 8 And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.
Mark 2:5-12 5 And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.
6 And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: 7 Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only? 8 Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit, that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. 12 And immediately he arose; and taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all; so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like.
Priests are to absolve sins in His name:
Matt 18:18-19 18 Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.
John 20:20-23 with commentary in the Douay-Rheims bible20 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.
19 "The doors were shut"... The same power which could bring Christ's whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can without the least question make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension.
21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
23 "Whose sins"... See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ's church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession.
“”Actually the Bible says to one another”
So I guess the priest gets to confess his sins to the layman then, right?”
I was arguing against the guy who says he only has to speak to God. But if you’re asking me, then sure. We’re all one church, one body. I suspect he would choose a peer though, as a matter of preference.
Personally, I’d prefer to not see this kind of stuff posted. Certain subjects like this are bait for strife. Especially when “some protestants say...” is right up there in the 1st few sentences.
I’d start to confess my sins to a Priest when the Catholic church renowns the ridiculous concept of purgatory
I’m Lutheran, so I never had to do a church confession. I’m also in recovery, and my 5th step was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a confession. “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”. -AA 5th step.
Took me a couple of hours, but had a huge weight lifted off my soul, along with a very heavy dose of humility.
It is so renowned that even you are talking about the concept of purgatory. If you tell me what city you are in I can direct you to a priest for you to carry through with your promise.
Thank you for posting this. It helps me alot in being able to explain the Sacrements to others.
Sorry, I don't need a Priest to confess my sins.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has already instructed me to fall at the foot of the cross, throw down my earthy crowns and receive his blood sacrifice for the propitiation of my sins
In a sense, though, that guy was right. Confession for judicial forgiveness of sin (i.e. to bring it under the blood, be restored in fellowship with God) can only be given by God, and the believer needs to go directly to God, and there's no need for all this nonsense about mediation through some man, especially since God's Word clearly says that there is ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
But, there is definitely a place for believers to confess their sins to each other - so that felloweship between them can be restored, so that they can pray for each other to be able to overcome some particular besetting sin, etc. So in that sense, I think you're right. It is in this sense that I understand James 5:16 to be speaking.
Five down, seven to go! Way to go Highnoon!
The two — forgiveness of sins and purgatory — are not particularly related, however, read 1 Corinthian 3:13-15 and tell me if the concept still looks ridiculous to you.
Funny thing about reading passages without the context of the entire chapter or theme of Book is you can deduce many things that simply are not there.
I would ask you to read the entire chapter of 1 Corinthian 3 with a Greek dictionary to flesh out the contextual meaning and I don't think you can draw the same conclusion.
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
I will point out the fact the passage says "try every man's work", which can not possible mean purgatory since not "everyman" will be in purgatory
Also read the passage with the 11th and 12 verse to understand what Paul was driving at
Purgatory - A place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
You might want to brush up on your Catholic Encyclopedia
What the Sacrament of Penance also does is keep us in ‘right attitudes’. If we face our sinfulness, and speak it aloud, we’re less likely to fall into bad attitudes and habits that lead to further and more serious sin.
Priests have to go to Confession, too!
As good christians who embrace the Word of God, you are surely familiar with Scripture. In John 20:21, before He grants them the authority to forgive sins, Jesus says to the apostles, "as the Father sent me, so I send you." As Christ was sent by the Father to forgive sins, so Christ sends the apostles and their successors forgive sins. In the next line, John 20:22 the Lord "breathes" on the apostles, and then gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. The only other moment in Scripture where God breathes on man is in Gen. 2:7, when the Lord "breathes" divine life into man. When this happens, a significant transformation takes place. In the next line, John 20:23, Jesus says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained." In order for the apostles to exercise this gift of forgiving sins, the penitents must orally confess their sins to them because the apostles are not mind readers. The text makes this very clear.
As for giving power to men, take a look at Matt. 9:8. This verse shows that God has given the authority to forgive sins to "men." Further on, in Matt. 9:6 and in Mark 2:10, Christ forgave sins as a man (not God) to convince us that the "Son of man" has authority to forgive sins on earth.
And, yes, priests are sinners and also take their sins to the Sacrament of Confession.
Jesus Christ left us these awesome gifts out of love for mankind. You should avail yourselves of them.
Why do you consider Purgatory a ridiculous concept? It’s really rather merciful. We believe that some folks might not be ready, at the time of their deaths, to stand in the awesome majesty of God, but on the other hand, not so full of sin that they would be subjected to Hell. We are to pray that they are cleansed (purged) of their sins so that may be able to see God in all His Glory.
God Bless you! But NOW you know how it feels when folks DO go to Confession!
The Blood of Christ cleanses me from ALL my sins so I can stand before the awesome majesty of God as sinless. The Blood of Christ alone paid for my sins by faith.
How do you think the context of 1 Cor. 3 subverts the content of the specific verses I suggest you focus upon?
It is true that every man shall be judged, but not every man will have parts of his work burned, just like St. Paul explains.
I still don’t understand why seeking forgiveness of sin is contingent upon the purgatory not being there.
It doesn't subvert the verse, the context expounds on it.
The "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." doesn't mean the afterlife because in the context of the passage Paul talks about the works men currently doing based on the foundation that Christ built stated in verse 11 and 12
Does a Catholic believe the Blood of Christ only gets you one foot in after you get called home?
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.
Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment
The Precious Blood makes it possible. Christ died to open the gates of Heaven. It's up to us to get through them and that's done partially through confessing sins and doing penance - and that includes time in Purgatory, if necessary.
I’m afraid I’d get into the booth and the priest would ask me for a date. :-)
Ask Martin Luther.
You don't believe in Hell, either?
It is true that the works are done in this life; they form the basis of our judgement “in the day of the Lord”, that is after we die (Compare Rm 2:6, Mt 25:31-46). Our works are not necessarily “made manifest” other than after we die. Further, following the trial of fire man is said to be saved, that means eternal salvation in the afterlife.
Yours is a very innatural reading of the passage; perhaps even “ridiculous”.
Someone MAKES them do so?
Are they held at gunpoint?
I think they allow authority where none should be.
Obedience. Next hard question?