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Following The Truth: Confession Is It Still Necessary? (Catholic or Open)
CE.com ^ | July 28th, 2009 | Gary Zimak

Posted on 12/28/2011 10:49:22 AM PST by Salvation

Confession – Is It Still Necessary?

July 28th, 2009 by Gary Zimak

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: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Prayer
KEYWORDS: catholic; conscience; penance; sacraments
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Gary Zimak is the founder of Following The Truth Ministries (http://www.followingthetruth.com), a lay apostolate created to assist Catholics in learning more about their Faith. He is a regular guest on EWTN Radio’s “Son Rise Morning Show”, Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo” and appears frequently on several other Catholic radio programs.  In addition to writing for CatholicLane. Mr. Zimak hosts a daily program on BlogTalkRadio and posts frequently on his blog, Facebook and Twitter.  He is a member of Catholics United For The Faith and the Knights of Columbus and resides in New Jersey.


1 posted on 12/28/2011 10:49:35 AM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Catholic Ping!


2 posted on 12/28/2011 10:51:42 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Personal confession, to God, you bet it is.
We can now go boldly to the throne of God, there is no ‘veil’, its been torn.

Confession to a priest? Not so much.


3 posted on 12/28/2011 10:53:25 AM PST by RoadGumby (This is not where I belong, Take this world and give me Jesus.)
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To: RoadGumby

Just a bit of Holy, Inerrant Scripture for you:
I. Jesus Christ Granted the Apostles His Authority to Forgive Sins

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.

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.

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.

Matt. 9:8 - this verse shows that God has given the authority to forgive sins to “men.” Hence, those Protestants who acknowledge that the apostles had the authority to forgive sins (which this verse demonstrates) must prove that this gift ended with the apostles. Otherwise, the apostles’ successors still possess this gift. Where in Scripture is the gift of authority to forgive sins taken away from the apostles or their successors?

Matt. 9:6; 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.

Luke 5:24 - Luke also points out that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins is as a man, not God. The Gospel writers record this to convince us that God has given this authority to men. This authority has been transferred from Christ to the apostles and their successors.

Matt. 18:18 - the apostles are given authority to bind and loose. The authority to bind and loose includes administering and removing the temporal penalties due to sin. The Jews understood this since the birth of the Church.

John 20:22-23; Matt. 18:18 - the power to remit/retain sin is also the power to remit/retain punishment due to sin. If Christ’s ministers can forgive the eternal penalty of sin, they can certainly remit the temporal penalty of sin (which is called an “indulgence”).

2 Cor. 2:10 - Paul forgives in the presence of Christ (some translations refer to the presences of Christ as “in persona Christi”). Some say that this may also be a reference to sins.

2 Cor. 5:18 - the ministry of reconciliation was given to the ambassadors of the Church. This ministry of reconciliation refers to the sacrament of reconciliation, also called the sacrament of confession or penance.

James 5:15-16 - in verse 15 we see that sins are forgiven by the priests in the sacrament of the sick. This is another example of man’s authority to forgive sins on earth. Then in verse 16, James says “Therefore, confess our sins to one another,” in reference to the men referred to in verse 15, the priests of the Church.

1 Tim. 2:5 - Christ is the only mediator, but He was free to decide how His mediation would be applied to us. The Lord chose to use priests of God to carry out His work of forgiveness.

Lev. 5:4-6; 19:21-22 - even under the Old Covenant, God used priests to forgive and atone for the sins of others.


4 posted on 12/28/2011 11:00:12 AM PST by sayuncledave (et Verbum caro factum est (And the Word was made flesh))
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To: Salvation

Well,to be all nit-picky, it’s “ordinarily necessary.”

Viewed apart from the sacramental side, it is also a chance, strangely declined by many, to live into the truth that God’s forgiveness is FAR more important than the opprobrium of men.


5 posted on 12/28/2011 11:03:12 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Jesus, I trust in you.)
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To: RoadGumby

How do you know your sins are forgiven?

Through the Sacrament of Confession God forgives our sins and FORGETS them!

Now that’s a blessing!


6 posted on 12/28/2011 11:05:46 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: sayuncledave

Well, you may do so at your leisure, I’ll still elect to take them right to the One In Charge, thank you.


7 posted on 12/28/2011 11:07:15 AM PST by RoadGumby (This is not where I belong, Take this world and give me Jesus.)
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To: Salvation

Here in the Hartford area, there is only ONE parish that (I know of that) offers daily noon-time confession. I have to travel 20 minutes during my lunch break to get there.

There is always a line of 5-20 people. The wait time is 15-45 minutes, even with the priest encouraging quick but thoughtful confessions. Sometimes they bring in a second priest.

I would like to see more parishes offer at least one weekday noon penance. It is difficult (not impossible, but difficult) for working people with kids to make it to a weekend confession.


8 posted on 12/28/2011 11:09:20 AM PST by kidd
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To: Salvation

By my confessing them to God, I know.


9 posted on 12/28/2011 11:11:28 AM PST by RoadGumby (This is not where I belong, Take this world and give me Jesus.)
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To: sayuncledave; RoadGumby

There you go trying to get a protestant to actually pay attention to evidencce direct from the Holy Bible. You must know by now that they only listen to what some guy in a cheap polyester suit with no actual formal training in the Bible tells them what he thinks the Bible says.


10 posted on 12/28/2011 11:12:55 AM PST by verga (We get what we tolerate and increase that which we reward)
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To: sayuncledave; RoadGumby

There you go trying to get a protestant to actually pay attention to evidencce direct from the Holy Bible. You must know by now that they only listen to what some guy in a cheap polyester suit with no actual formal training in the Bible tells them what he thinks the Bible says.


11 posted on 12/28/2011 11:13:26 AM PST by verga (We get what we tolerate and increase that which we reward)
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To: Salvation

Well, in the East we still regard it as necessary: the minimum standard being 1) at least once a year; 2) to return to communion after willfully “absenting [oneself] from the synaxis” (i.e. not going to church) for a period of three weeks or more; and 3) after the commission of any grievous sin. Antiochians in North America tend to confess (when (2) and (3) don’t apply) two to four times a year, though some of our priests and hierarchs have tried to encourage monthly confession.

Of course a lot of Slavs still stick by the one-confession, one-communion rule (which sometimes leads to receiving communion of the Holy Mysteries about four times a year, but ought instead lead to more frequent confession).


12 posted on 12/28/2011 11:18:17 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Salvation

We are told to confess our sins one to another. However I like to go to G-d through Yashua to be forgiven not to some mortal.


13 posted on 12/28/2011 11:18:17 AM PST by SkyDancer ("If You Want To Learn To Love Better, You Should Start With A Friend Who You Hate")
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To: kidd
It is difficult ... for working people with kids to make it to a weekend confession.
How so? You put the kids in the car and go.
Ah, just how many times a month/year do you have something to confess?
14 posted on 12/28/2011 11:19:16 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: RoadGumby

It would sound as though you have experienced visions or messages of some kind to know that.

Please enlighten us.

How can you know God’s mind?


15 posted on 12/28/2011 11:20:30 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: SkyDancer

Did you read the article?

If you did then you know the priest is ...................

Please go back and read it.


16 posted on 12/28/2011 11:22:22 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: verga

As opposed to someone who feels that you have no understanding at all and need to do as told, in Latin no less?

The bible is in plain English now, not Latin. The veil was not torn so that a man could put it back up again.

And I forgot about how the woman with the issue of blood made prayer to Peter first.

And how the little children should be allowed to come to Jesus, but only after giving 2 pence to Judas first.

The confessional is nothing less than a modern ‘Holy of Holies’. And is as relevant.


17 posted on 12/28/2011 11:22:42 AM PST by RoadGumby (This is not where I belong, Take this world and give me Jesus.)
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To: verga

You really think every protestant church is how you’ve said they are?

You really want to go pointing fingers at the clergy of other denominations?

If I painted the Roman church with the same broad brush you painted all the other denominations, I’d say you ought to never leave your kids alone for 5 seconds with any priest.


18 posted on 12/28/2011 11:24:13 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: All
Following The Truth: Confession – Is It Still Necessary? (Catholic or Open)

Following The Truth: The Feast Of St. Stephen – A Case Of Bad Timing? (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: What If Mary Said “No”? (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Jesus Is Waiting – Don’t Forget To RSVP! (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: So, You Just Received Jesus…Now What? (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: An Advent Challenge: Love Your Enemies! (Catholic and Open)
Following The Truth: The Journey To Bethlehem is Not Comfortable! (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Does God Want Us To Worry? (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: The Morning Offering – Pray Without Ceasing! (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: A (Lenten) Advent “Weight” Loss Program (Catholic or Open)

Following The Truth: Hurry Up, Lord…I’m Waiting! (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Evangelize? Sorry, But I’m Catholic! (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Ten Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know (But Should!) (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Letting Your Conscience Be Your Guide(What Jiminy Cricket Didn’t Tell You) [Catholic or Open]
Following The Truth: Catholic “Fluff” – The Enemy Within (Catholic or Open)
Following The Truth: Appreciating The Gift Of Suffering (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: Satan’s Attack On The Church – What You Can Do! (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: Saying “Y-E-S” to God During Lent (and Advent) [Catholic or Open]
Following the Truth: Spiritual Dryness: “I Don’t Feel Anything!” (Catholic or Open)
Following the Truth: A Biblical Roadmap To The One, True Church (Catholic or Open)

19 posted on 12/28/2011 11:24:32 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Mad Dawg

Another side of it is that only having it for an hour on Saturday for a parish of 1000+ families doesn’t really give the impression of real importance.

Freegards


20 posted on 12/28/2011 11:24:59 AM PST by Ransomed
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