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Finding a home in the confessional thanks to Pope Francis
NC Reporter ^ | October 10, 2013 | Renée Schafer Horton

Posted on 10/11/2013 2:45:26 PM PDT by NYer

I went to confession on Saturday. I think the last time I celebrated the sacrament in a traditional Saturday afternoon setting was more than a decade ago. When someone asked me why I was going, the answer was simple: I was compelled to go because of the pope.

Not because Pope Francis has asked Catholics to get back in the confessional, but because his recent interviews and heartfelt actions as pastor in chief have made me want to be a better person and a more fulfilled, better practicing Catholic. I've felt like I've not only been given hope for the church, but a challenge for myself.

To be clear, I haven't been totally absent from the sacrament of reconciliation, but my primary experience in the past many years has been communal penance services. These liturgies can be moving and are certainly efficient and convenient for all involved. They can be less intimidating for people who have not received the sacrament in a while, so I understand why they are offered.

Yet I never felt quite complete after a penance service. It was like something essential was missing, but I couldn't tell you want. Perhaps it was due to the cattle-call sensation of the whole thing. Hundreds of people with a half-dozen priests at a service that starts at 7:30 p.m. on a school night. Folks are in a hurry even if their best intention is to not be. And I'm not certain contrition can be rushed.

But in my life, regular confessional offerings -- the late Saturday afternoon type -- were inconvenient. Like many Catholics, I preferred my faith practice fit around the rest of my life, not the other way around. Until Saturday. Saturday, I arranged the rest of my life around a sacrament. And I'm telling you, it was good.

Special Report: The Francis Interview
Subscribers to our print edition: The October 11 issue includes this special feature with reactions to Pope Francis' interview from Richard Rohr, Hans Küng, Michelle Gonzalez, Richard Gaillardetz and Chris Lowney. Additional copies are available to purchase. Learn more

Pope Francis has had a positive effect on many people, and I'm not immune. His actions in the first weeks and months of his papacy left me in awe of his humility and kindness, and his recent interviews were even more touching. It isn't just that he seems to understand the urgency of reaching out to the lost sheep or the need for deep examination and discussion of difficult issues affecting Catholic laity and the wider world. It is more: He points out God's mercy in a way that makes it seem absolutely real. And like the sinful woman in Luke's Gospel, unconditional mercy has the tendency to convince one of the need for repentance.

Thus, I found myself standing in a very short line outside a confessional reflecting on the traditional formula for a "good confession": Make it clear, concise, contrite and complete. I've failed on the "complete" part more often than I care to admit, and concise has never been my strong suit. But I was determined, and I knew in a way I haven't known in a very long time that even though this action would be difficult (it is so much easier to avoid facing our dark side than speak it out loud), it would be worth it. And it was. On both counts.

Every day, I hear from Catholics who, like me, are reconsidering their lives, their actions, their faith practice, all because of an Argentine priest who proclaims, "I am a sinner." The pope isn't getting this reaction by outlining a list of do's and don'ts. Instead, the world's parish priest proclaims the message of God's mercy in such human terms one cannot help but listen. He lives a life so obviously influenced by Jesus that one cannot remain unaffected. It is almost as though, if you listen close enough, you can hear him say, without uttering a word, "Try this again; it will lead you to Jesus."

This weekend, I did try it again, walking into a dimly lit confessional, getting on my knees and saying, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." And for the first time in a long time, it felt like home.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues
KEYWORDS: popefrancis

1 posted on 10/11/2013 2:45:26 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

A remarkable article from the National Catholic Reporter.


2 posted on 10/11/2013 2:46:28 PM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: Truth2012; jodyel

Catholics "know Him" through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

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 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 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.

In 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.

In 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 clearly teaches us that we must “confess our sins to one another,” not just privately to God. James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church. Hence, when James says “therefore” in verse 16, he must be referring to the men he was writing about in verses 14 and 15 – these men are the ordained priests of the Church, to whom we must confess our sins.

Acts 19:18 - many came to orally confess sins and divulge their sinful practices. Oral confession was the practice of the early Church just as it is today.

Christ is the only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), 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.

James clearly teaches us that we must “confess our sins to one another,” not just privately to God. James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church. Hence, when James says “therefore” in verse 16, he must be referring to the men he was writing about in verses 14 and 15 – these men are the ordained priests of the Church, to whom we must confess our sins.

This command continued, as evidenced by the early Church Fathers. For example:

“In church confess your sins, and do not come to your prayer with a guilt conscience. Such is the Way of Life...On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure." Didache, 4:14,14:1 (c. A.D. 90).

3 posted on 10/11/2013 2:59:38 PM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: NYer

This is from the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper that has been asked to remove the word Catholic from its title. Why should one believe anything printed in this self proclaimed liberal Catholic newspaper.


4 posted on 10/11/2013 3:14:15 PM PDT by CdMGuy
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To: NYer

bkmk


5 posted on 10/11/2013 3:21:12 PM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
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To: CdMGuy; NYer
Nothing like flicking off good news like a piece of lint...

And this is the kind of thing Jesus said made the angels in heaven rejoice...

6 posted on 10/11/2013 3:25:41 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: NYer

James 5:16 In view of the possibility of physical sickness following sin, believers should confess their sins (against one another) to one another (normally privately). Furthermore they should pray for one another so God may heal them (spiritually and physically). I have added the conditions in parenthesis above to clarify the meaning of James’ words.

Constable, T. (2003).


7 posted on 10/11/2013 3:36:16 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (I grew up in America. I now live in the United States..)
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To: NYer
made me want to be a better person and a more fulfilled, better practicing Catholic.

You either are a 'practicing' catholic or you are not. You can't pick and choose which of the sacraments or which of the traditions you follow. If you do you are a social catholic or a cultural catholic but not a 'practicing' catholic.

8 posted on 10/11/2013 3:57:30 PM PDT by DWar ("The ultimate destination of Political Correctness is totalitarianism.")
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To: CdMGuy

Well as the saying goes “a broken clock is RIGHT twice a day.”


9 posted on 10/11/2013 3:58:41 PM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: DWar
"You either are a 'practicing' catholic or you are not. You can't pick and choose which of the sacraments or which of the traditions you follow. If you do you are a social catholic or a cultural catholic but not a 'practicing' catholic."

True enough, friend, but is your tone a little accusatory? Is there anything this writer said, that would suggest that she is moving in the wrong direction on this?

My take is, this is a move toward greater perfection. I, myself, have found this a gradual process. One which has required patience, patience, patience... and a willingness to admit fault over and over.

10 posted on 10/11/2013 4:25:56 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

James clearly teaches us that we must “confess our sins to one another,” not just privately to God. James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church. Hence, when James says “therefore” in verse 16, he must be referring to the men he was writing about in verses 14 and 15 – these men are the ordained priests of the Church, to whom we must confess our sins.


11 posted on 10/11/2013 4:55:43 PM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Thanks ... it’s rare that I post anything from the Reporter but this was indeed “good news”.


12 posted on 10/11/2013 4:57:31 PM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: NYer

What is always missed is that this sinning woman came to Jesus crying, she knew she was a sinner and was begging for forgiveness.

Today’s so-called lapse (c)atholics want to return triumphantly and with pride. They feel they have somehow been proven right on abortion and homosexual behavior and THAT is the reason they feel its time to come back. Not to weep at the masters feet, but to stand proudly and laugh at those who stand for the unborn and traditional marriage.


13 posted on 10/11/2013 5:09:12 PM PDT by icwhatudo (Low taxes and less spending in Sodom and Gomorrah is not my idea of a conservative victory)
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To: NYer

“James clearly teaches us that we must “confess our sins to one another,” not just privately to God.”

No. In this passage the confession is to one you’ve sinned against.

“James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church.”

No priests mentioned here. No priests listed as a church office in the NT.

“Hence, when James says “therefore” in verse 16, he must be referring to the men he was writing about in verses 14 and 15 – these men are the ordained priests of the Church, to whom we must confess our sins.”

No ordination mentioned either. Nor priests. If it were true that sin should be confessed to the elders mentioned earlier, he would have said to confess your sins to the elders instead of “to one another”.

He did not.


14 posted on 10/11/2013 5:09:13 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (I grew up in America. I now live in the United States..)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Accusatory of what? Just a statement of fact. It is a logical impossibility to be a ‘good Catholic’, good Christian or even a good conservative and deny or oppose the fundamentals.


15 posted on 10/11/2013 5:12:48 PM PDT by DWar ("The ultimate destination of Political Correctness is totalitarianism.")
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To: icwhatudo

Is there any indication that that is true of this author, Renee Horton?


16 posted on 10/11/2013 6:08:38 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: DWar
I agree with you about the unacceptability of denying the fundamentals.

When I spoke of your comment seeming "accusatory," I meant that it seemed to be in reference to the article at the top of this thread, and therefore in reference to the author, Renee Horton. And yet I see nothing in the article which would justify such a judgment against Horton.

But perhaps you weren't referring to the article.

17 posted on 10/11/2013 6:12:21 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: NYer

Individual confession and absolution is to be cherished in the Church. To be sure, there are abuses, but these are not the fault of faithful Pastors or the means whereby God would have the poor sinner hear and receive absolution. The world makes a mockery of it, but the faithful hear and believe what is written.


18 posted on 10/11/2013 6:38:10 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Mrs. Don-o
"We may not allow homosexuals to legally marry, but those in long-term monogamous relationships are really no different than people in long-term heterosexual unions, are they? If stability in relationships is what we want – and what some argue we absolutely need for the success of our country – shouldn’t we support things that increase stability in all partnered relationship? And if someone has been with the same person for two decades, what do you call that if not marriage?"

Renée Schafer Horton

19 posted on 10/11/2013 8:25:14 PM PDT by icwhatudo (Low taxes and less spending in Sodom and Gomorrah is not my idea of a conservative victory)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
"I always wonder how, with so many gay priests, the church manages to continue its proclamations. Renee Schafer Horton ‏@rshorton 25 May
20 posted on 10/11/2013 8:27:31 PM PDT by icwhatudo (Low taxes and less spending in Sodom and Gomorrah is not my idea of a conservative victory)
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To: icwhatudo

Yikes!


21 posted on 10/11/2013 9:39:59 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Matthew 5:37)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion
“James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church.” No priests mentioned here. No priests listed as a church office in the NT.

1. James had just told us to go to the presbyter in verse 14 for healing and the forgiveness of sins. Then, verse 16 begins with the word therefore—a conjunction connecting verse 16 back to verses 14 and 15. The context seems to point to the "elder" as the one to whom we confess our sins.

2. Ephesians 5:21 employed this same phrase, "to one another," in the context of teaching about the sacrament of holy matrimony: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." Even though the text says "to one another," the context limits the scope of the meaning of "to one another" specifically to a man and wife—not just anyone. Similarly, the context of James 5 bears out that the confession "to one another" refers to the relationship between "anyone" and specifically an "elder" or "priest" (Gk. presbuteros).

3. The final words of the passage speak specifically of ministers called by God to minister to his people in his place, i.e., Elijah the prophet (cf. Jas 5:17).

22 posted on 10/12/2013 5:16:06 AM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: CdMGuy

Because it says something positive about Francis. As long as the reader doesn’t perceive the media taking his words out of context, or made up, etc it’s all good.


23 posted on 10/12/2013 5:37:21 AM PDT by piusv
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To: icwhatudo
This is a rather obscure questikon. When did she make it? Has she gotten an answer?

Both of its major terms are ambivalent.

By "gay priests" does she mean "chaste men whose particular temptations are homosexual in nature"? Or does she mean "active sodomites"?

By the Church's "proclamations," does she mean what's written in the Catechism? Does she even know what s written in the Catechism?

This seems to be a question. Questions are allowed --- as I always tell my RCIA students --- since they are the first steps of the road to wholehearted understanding.

24 posted on 10/12/2013 5:43:08 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: icwhatudo

Same here: I see questions, not defiance. Have you tried to answer her questions?


25 posted on 10/12/2013 5:44:09 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (adfgh)
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To: NYer

NY’r,

I know what you would like it to mean, but it does not.

The context is that sin can make you sick. Believers should confess those sins to the one they wronged. They should also pray for one another with that person.

Your comparison to Eph 5:21, refers to husband and wife (one to another) - not the elder who was marrying the couple. As such it is a good comparison. The elder would do the act of marrying the couple. The couple would do the submitting one to another.

In verse 16, the elders (not priests), are anointing and praying for the sick person. The sick person, if her sickness is due to a sin against another, should confess to that other. Much affliction stems from those kinds of sin and should be resolved.

Only eisogesis takes a later idea and tries to squeeze it into passages that refer to something else.


26 posted on 10/12/2013 7:02:01 AM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (I grew up in America. I now live in the United States..)
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To: NYer
To be clear, I haven't been totally absent from the sacrament of reconciliation, but my primary experience in the past many years has been communal penance services. These liturgies can be moving and are certainly efficient and convenient for all involved. They can be less intimidating for people who have not received the sacrament in a while, so I understand why they are offered.
SACRAMENT is what's missing from these services ... She should just acknowledge it, and say it.
27 posted on 10/12/2013 7:34:06 AM PDT by GirlShortstop (Every person has a duty to seek and serve the truth. Abp Charles J. Chaput, OFMCap)
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To: GirlShortstop
She describes the communal penitential sertvice thus:

"Hundreds of people with a half-dozen priests at a service that starts at 7:30 p.m. on a school night. Folks are in a hurry even if their best intention is to not be. And I'm not certain contrition can be rushed."

The half-dozen priests are there to hear individual confessions. That's why she felt "rushed" -- because she was conscious that there were long lines waiting behind her for their individual confessions.

So there was the "service" AND there was the "Sacrament" --- the individual confession of a penitent to a priest.

28 posted on 10/12/2013 1:24:06 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Habemus Papam.)
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To: NYer

Jesus is alive and wants to have a relationship with you, Christians know him relationally.

And there are many, many witness who will share their stories with you and tell you exactly how they are pointed TO scripture AND have a real relationship with a living God.


29 posted on 10/12/2013 7:09:15 PM PDT by Truth2012
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To: Truth2012
Jesus is alive and wants to have a relationship with you,

Dear friend. What have I posted that makes you think I do not have a relationship with Jesus?

30 posted on 10/13/2013 4:30:16 AM PDT by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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