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[Catholic Caucus] Confession Is It Still Necessary?
Catholic Exchange ^ | 6/28/2009 | Gary Zimak

Posted on 07/29/2009 2:58:46 PM PDT by markomalley

One of the harsh realities facing the Catholic Church is the fact that many of her members no longer receive the sacrament of Confession on a regular basis. For one reason or another, many Catholics don’t feel the need to go to Confession. Let’s look at some of the common objections and discuss why the sacrament of Confession is still as relevant today as it was when Jesus instituted it 2000 years ago.

“I confess my sins directly to Christ. Why do I need to go through a ‘middle man’?” This may come as a surprise to some, but the Church teaches that when you go to Confession, you are speaking directly to Jesus. Why the need for a priest? For one thing, that’s how the Lord designed the sacrament. In John 20:21-23, Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Careful observation of Jesus’ words will show that while He is giving the Apostles the ability to forgive sins, they are also receiving the authority to make a judgment. There are certain cases where absolution may be denied and that decision would be impossible without knowing the details of the offense. Therefore, verbal confession of sins is necessary. Another very logical argument for confessing your sins to another individual is that we tend to be very lenient with ourselves. Jesus was well aware of our human nature when He instituted the sacrament of Confession. Verbalizing your sins to another individual requires a much greater level of humility than confessing them in your own mind. Throughout the gospels, Our Lord stressed the importance of humility for His followers and this is one more way to practice that virtue.

“Jesus only gave that authority to His Apostles. It doesn’t apply to priests!” The Church teaches that the authority granted by Jesus to the original Apostles is passed down to their successors, the bishops. This is known as Apostolic Succession. Due to the large number of Catholics in the world today, it would be impossible for the bishops to carry out their ministry effectively without help. For that reason, they are assisted in their mission by priests. In order to effectively assist the bishops, the authority to forgive or retain sins is also extended to priests.

“The Church teaches that it’s acceptable to’ follow your conscience’ and I don’t feel that (artificial birth control, missing Mass, premarital sex, in-vitro fertilization, etc.) is a sin.” Using this logic can justify any action and seemingly eliminate the need for the sacrament of Confession. While the Church does teach that we should follow our conscience, she also instructs that we must continually inform that conscience by studying Church teaching. The human conscience can be defective, as evidenced by individuals such as Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein, who believed that their evil actions were morally justified.

“I thought that the Church did away with mortal sin. Didn’t Vatican II state that nobody goes to Hell anymore?” Sadly, this is a very popular belief, even among Catholics. Just for the record, the Church teaching on mortal (or grave) sin has not changed. There are some sins that render us incapable of eternal life and their intentional commission warrants the punishment of Hell. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” (CCC 1033)

While the above quotation may frighten some, the good news is that all of our sins (mortal and venial) can be forgiven in the sacrament of Confession. We need only express sorrow for our sins and vow to refrain from committing them again. If we fail, there is no limit to the number of times we can seek forgiveness in the sacrament. God knows that human nature is weak and only asks that we try our best to avoid sin.

“You only have to go to Confession if you’ve committed a mortal sin.” While this is technically a true statement, there is much grace to be obtained even when only venial sins are committed:

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. (CCC 1458)

For many years, I neglected this great sacrament. I would go two or three times a year, mainly out of habit. I confessed the same sins each time, carefully avoiding any that were too controversial. My spiritual life was stuck in a rut and I wasn’t making any substantial progress in avoiding sin. One day I heard something that changed my life: I learned that the pope went to Confession weekly! Realizing that I didn’t understand the power of the sacrament, I decided that I would start confessing my sins bi-weekly. The results were incredible…For the first time in my life, I started making progress in avoiding my “favorite” sins. The sacramental grace received in Confession was helping me to become a better person!

If it’s been a while since you’ve gone to Confession, I urge you to do as soon as possible. If you’re not sure what to say, simply ask the priest and he will guide you. If you’re concerned that the priest will reveal your sins to others, rest assured that he will not. He is forbidden (under threat of automatic excommunication) from revealing or making any use of any information heard in the confessional. If you’ve been carrying around guilt for a long time and wondering if God can ever forgive you…Hearing these words of absolution will assure you that God has indeed forgiven your sins!

God, the Father of mercies,

through the death and the resurrection of his Son

has reconciled the world to himself

and sent the Holy Spirit among us

for the forgiveness of sins;

through the ministry of the Church

may God give you pardon and peace,

and I absolve you from your sins

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; confession; penance; reconciliation

1 posted on 07/29/2009 2:58:47 PM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley

The modern Catholic Church acts like it isn’t necessary, but it still is.

2 posted on 07/29/2009 2:59:40 PM PDT by BertWheeler (Dance and the world dances with you...)
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To: markomalley

Sin - Do you still have it?

3 posted on 07/29/2009 2:59:47 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: markomalley

Do we still sin?

4 posted on 07/29/2009 3:03:53 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("If the worst that Barack Obama does is ruin the economy, I will breathe a sigh of relief." Sowell)
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To: markomalley

I neglected this sacrament for over 25 years, due both to malaise and shame of my sins.

About 6 years ago I started going back. I find confession and reconciliation, which are really one in the same in this context, to be the greatest source of grace in my life.

I never feel God’s love more when I tell him, through the priest, how sorry I am for my many sins. And He tells me, through the priest, that He understands how flawed I am, appreciates my efforts to avoid sin, and forgives me.

Of great benefit is the examination of conscience during the days leading up to confession. This examination can be practiced, of course, by any person of any faith with excellent results.

5 posted on 07/29/2009 3:16:08 PM PDT by Clarence (back to lurking now...)
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To: markomalley

I must say, as an evangelical who grew up in the Prottie half of a half-Catholic, half Protestant family (you do NOT want a replay of the family holiday dinners whenever Catholic vs. Protestant or Democrat vs. Republican came up; and it inevitably came up), this Q&A is the best explanation of confession I have ever read. It puts a whole new light on it. I was very touched by the passage about the humility of the Pope. Thank you for posting this.

6 posted on 07/29/2009 3:19:47 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Media: quit making things up." --Sarah Palin)
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To: markomalley
You only have to go to Confession if you’ve committed a mortal sin.

It is not that hard to commit a mortal sin when you don't go to confession on a regular basis. You wallow in your venial sins for a while and then the next thing you know, you have one foot on a banana peel and the other in Hell.

7 posted on 07/29/2009 3:21:50 PM PDT by frogjerk (tagline pulled for verification)
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To: markomalley

It’s up to the priests. I think a lot of ‘em don’t wanna make too much extra work for themselves so they don’t push confession like they should. Having an hour a week on Saturday afternoon for a big parish doesn’t exactly tell folks it’s too important.


8 posted on 07/29/2009 3:28:03 PM PDT by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: markomalley

**[Catholic Caucus] Confession – Is It Still Necessary?**

Absolutely, if one wants to receive the Holy Eucharist worthily (without committing a graver sin, in other words.)

9 posted on 07/29/2009 3:59:34 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: markomalley
[Catholic Caucus] Confession – Is It Still Necessary?
Confession to God Alone? Scripture Alone?

Pope: There's an Answer to Empty Confessionals [Catholic Caucus]
Pope alarmed by decline in confessions
Part 2 of 10: Sacrament of Penance, Church’s symbols help explain penance [Catholic Caucus]
Part 1 of 10: Sacrament of Penance, Jesus placed great value on forgiveness [Catholic Caucus]
Confession Questions From the Pew [Catholic Caucus] Introduction to 10 Part Series

Part 1 of 10: Sacrament of Penance, Jesus placed great value on forgiveness [Catholic Caucus]
Beginning Catholic: The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Rising Again to New Life [Ecumenical]
Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?
Why do Catholics have to confess their sins to a priest instead of praying straight to God? [Ecu]

When did confession to a priest start? [Ecumenical]
Confession, Confession Everywhere (Cardinal Says Youth Day Is Reviving the Sacrament)
In One Church, Confession Makes a Comeback (Catholic Caucus)
Priests should encourage recovery of Sacrament of Reconciliation
A Gift That is Always in Season (Sacrament of Penance) Catholic Caucus

[Sacrament of]Confession
Make a Good Confession
Those in Mortal Sin Can't Go to Communion, Says Pope
Holy Week Recovers Celebration of Penance (at St. Peter's Basilica) - photos!
Reasons for Confession [Sacrament of Reconciliation]

Lesson 19: Confession (Part 1) BY FATHER ALTIER
Lesson 20: Confession (Part 2) BY FATHER ROBERT ALTIER
Serious about God? Then get serious about confession
St. Ephraim the Syrian: On Repentance
What happened to confession – Changing mores reflective of use
Repentance and Confession - Introduction [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession
Pick a sin, any sin (Confession gone awry)
The Early Church Fathers on Confession / Reconciliation - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Catholics called from the idiot box to confession
Benedict XVI Extols Sacrament of Penance - Says Priests Need to Make It a Priority

Confession’s Comeback
Priests say more Catholics returning to confession
Pope Hears Confessions of Youth
MESSAGE FOR ALL CATHOLICS (in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday - April 15)
Salvation: Just click and confess

Get Thee To A Confessional! (beautiful insight for those who dread going to Confession)
Emerging Trends: The Return to the Confessional
Confessing to 'sins' is booming in America (Evangelicals and Protestants take up practice)
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Penance (Reconciliation, Confession) [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

A Comeback for Confession
MORTAL SIN and HOLY CONFESSION - The Antidote of Death
Thinking Inside the Box: An Attitude for Confession
Confessional Advice
The Epidemic and the Cure [The Sin of the World and the Sacrament of Reconciliation] (Confession)

10 posted on 07/29/2009 4:02:57 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Salvation

For what it’s worth, that is also the confessioanl Lutheran position.

11 posted on 07/29/2009 4:09:19 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: markomalley

As a convert from Protestanism, I’ve always valued the objectivity, concreteness and personal accountability of Catholic sacramental confession and absolution. Catholics don’t appreciate the treasures that they have.

12 posted on 07/29/2009 4:15:19 PM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: markomalley

I just don’t know wth I would say. The “baddest” thing you could say I partake in is carnal pleasure; I’m usually lost when I go to confession and say the same things, like another poster on here said. I suppose I feel that to get the most of it I’d have to rattle off every one of the bad things I did since the last time I went like from an itemised list to get “true” confession and not a blanket absolution.

13 posted on 07/29/2009 4:23:46 PM PDT by musicbymuzak
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To: musicbymuzak

The more often you go to Confession, however, the more grace you receive and with a firm promise of amendment — those sins will start to disappear.

Try it! I thought I would try every six months, then I realized it would be better for me if I went to Confession every two months.

Now I get beyond two or three weeks and I know I am bound for Confession. I believe that I have become more aware of my sins. (And, yes, we do fall into habits and commit the same sins, but do try the more frequent Confession.) I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

14 posted on 07/29/2009 4:37:39 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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To: Unam Sanctam

Our priest had to add hours of Confession each week. PLUS — starts every Mass by mentioning our sins and asking repentance for them.

Yeah — and sometimes my intercession at daily Mass is for the people of our parish to partake of the Sacrament of Penance more often.

They say the two signs of a great and growing parish are —
1. How long are the lines at the Confessional?
2. How many vocations from your parish at this time?

Our church was totally packed for the Easter Penance Service. The seven priests who came to help with Confession had their jaws hit the floor when the walked in and saw the huge crowd.

Glory be to God! BTW, it is not something I take for granted. It’s there and I use it at least once a month!

15 posted on 07/29/2009 4:41:53 PM PDT by Salvation (With God all things are possible.)
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