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In the Time of My Confession Print E-mail
By Francis J. Beckwith   
Friday, 04 February 2011

When I was an Evangelical Protestant thinking about returning to the Catholic Church of my baptism, among Catholic practices I found difficult to accept was the sacrament of penance. 

I thought that the sacrament took away from Christ’s sufficiency to forgive all our sins, past, present, and future. For I believed that it diminished the scope of Christ’s atonement if I had to do something in order to acquire forgiveness, such as confess to a priest and/or do penance, i.e., say some prayers, do a good deed, or engage in a spiritual discipline, after receiving absolution. But good reasons eventually led me to change my mind.

First, even Evangelical Protestants have a means for dealing with post-baptismal sin: the rededication. The backslider, depending on the severity of his iniquity, rededicates his life to Christ by walking the aisle once again, as he did when he first converted. In fact, given the Protestant understanding of justification and sanctification – that good works and good living follow from being truly saved – the backslider may wonder if his first confession was a sham. So, he confesses again. Thus, it became clear to me that Christianity requires some way to deal with post-baptismal sin

Second, the New Testament speaks often of post-baptismal sin. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus mentions the need for ongoing repentance in the believer’s life (Mt. 6:12). St. John writes to baptized Christians: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I Jn. 1:8-9). Moreover, St. Paul (I Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-15; Col. 3:5-10), St. John (1 Jn. 5:16-17), and the author of Hebrews (Heb. 13:4-5) warn believers of sins that are mortal, i.e., if the Christian commits them he risks losing what Catholics call “sanctifying grace.” Thus, Christianity by its very nature requires a ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:14-20).

Third, I read the Catechism, and it quickly disabused me of my sacramental ignorance. “Doing penance,” I learned, is not a work the Church requires in order to guarantee forgiveness. For Christ’s death is “the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.”  And when one confesses and receives absolution in the sacrament, one’s sins are forgiven by God, for “only God forgives sins.” “But,” and this is key, “it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.”


         Penance helps configure us to Christ, who alone expiates our sins

So, for example, if I confess to a priest that I have stolen $500 from my neighbor, I will receive absolution. Although I am forgiven for my offense, for penance, I must at least return my neighbor’s property. But all sins (including theft) diminish, and sometimes rob us of, our spiritual health. For this reason, acts of penance “help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once and for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, `provided we suffer with him.’ [Rom. 8:17; Rom. 3:25; I Jn. 2:1-2] And given the Church’s understanding of operating and cooperating grace, even the merit we acquire from our penance is a work of God’s grace.

Fourth, the New Testament speaks of fasting, praying, and spiritual discipline as means by which one may become better equipped and more disposed to holiness in one’s Christian journey (Mt. 6:1-8, 16-18; Acts 13:2-3; Acts 14:23; 1 Cor. 9:25-27; 2 Cor. 1: 4-6;Col 4:2; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 4:4-8; 1 Tim. 4:7-8; 2 Tim. 1:17; Jas. 4:8-10; I Pet. 4:7). In fact, the author of Hebrews writes of the reality of God’s fatherly discipline of us, his sons, in the formation of our souls (Heb. 12:5-13).

Fifth, the Scripture teaches that the Church is integral to the ministry of reconciliation. Christ came to Earth to forgive sins (Mt. 9:6), and after his resurrection he imparted to his followers that same power (Jn. 20:21-23). In Mt. 18, in the context of the administration of Church discipline, Jesus gives his disciples the power of binding and loosing. (Mt. 18:18). James encourages the sick to seek out the Church’s presbyters so that they may “pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (5:14-15—emphasis added)

Given its biblical foundation, it’s not surprising that the sacrament begins to develop early in Christian history. According to Protestant historian J. N. D. Kelly, by the beginning of the third century, the ecclesial and theological elements on which today’s private confession is based – that the penitent confesses to the Church that not only has the power to absolve him of his sins but also the power to impose penance on the penitent – are already in place. And there is no shortage of passages from the Church Fathers that clearly show that penance was an integral and uncontroversial part of the sacramental infrastructure of the Christian life.

So the development of the sacrament is not surprising at all. And the fact that Western and Eastern Rite Catholics as well as the Eastern Orthodox practiced it without controversy until the time of the Reformation made it impossible for me to think that penance was not a legitimate Christian practice consistent with biblical theology. 

Now that I’ve returned to the Church, I wish more of my fellow Catholics understood the great gift we have in Confession.

 
Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He tells the story of his journey from Catholicism to Protestantism and back again in his book, Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical CatholicHe blogs at Return to Rome.
 
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written by Grump, February 04, 2011
I remember as a kid going to confession and getting off with 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys. Been 50 years since I've been in the box. Are the penalties still about the same? I don't mean to be flippant but how does the priest decide what is the proper amount of penance for the sinner to perform? I would image 15 prayers would hardly cover 50 years worth of sinning.
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written by Yezhov, February 04, 2011
Grump, one Hail Mary would do if it's linked with the grace of the sacrament of confession. The fact is we all get off pretty easy. That's the idea -- the super abundance of God's mercy.
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written by Grump, February 04, 2011
Yezhov, wow, thought I'd have to don a hair shirt, make a trip to Lourdes and fill the collection plate.
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written by Greg Milford, February 04, 2011
Frank,

It would be a great addition to your column here if you shared a bit more of what your personal experience of returning to this sacrament has meant for you personally in your walk. We protestants certainly need to understand the biblical basis for Catholic practices, but we also would benefit from testimony and discussion around how it differs from going straight to the Lord in prayer.

Thanks for your work!
Greg
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written by James Danielson, February 04, 2011
Confession and repentance are not theologically controversial as they are part of the living, holy tradition of the Church. Protestants reject the doctrine of apostolic succession, and in consequence have no conception of an episcopal priesthood through which the grace of God expressed in sacraments flows through the Church. They're left with an atrophied ecclesiology that saps much of the energy and all of the holy tradition so vital to Church life. I'm Orthodox, not western Catholic, so I don't know the practical reasons why confession has fallen on hard times in the West, but I suspect it has to do with clerical apathy. How to fix that problem is anybody's guess.
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written by Achilles, February 04, 2011

Grump, I went forty years in the desert of hedonism, empirical ethicism, Nietzscheism, etc... and it is the measure of the sorrow and repentance that gives weight to the penance, not the reverse. The world is upside down. To answer the question ‘what does it mean to be human’ really can’t be answered by ourselves, we must choose our sources wisely. You are in my prayers Grump, please pray for me too, Achilles.
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written by Rudy Rentzel, February 04, 2011
In my experience, all Protestants, including Evangelicals, emphasize the continuing need for confession of sins, and the continuing need for the forgiveness of sins. So I tend to see much more unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants, including Evangelicals (meaning both Evangelical Catholics and Evangelical Protestants) on this issue. That doesn't mean I overlook the differences, instead I appreciate them. In the Roman Catholics tradition, what is now called the sacrament of reconciliation takes place in the confessional booth, though I have seen it exercised outside the confessional booth. In many Protestant traditions (including evangelical), the emphasis is on confessing your sins directly to God and asking for his forgiveness. However, I have been in many Protestant liturgical services which has a time for confession of sins followed by an absolution by a priest or pastor. In other Protestant traditions, the congregation breaks into small groups, and the members confess their sins aloud to each other in the small group. (This involves an openness and a trust.) In many worship service, the pastors and elders make themselves available at the front of the church following the service, and members come forward, and often confess their sins in the confidential discussion. In other churches, members will visit the pastor in his office, and confess their sins to him privately. While I might think there are advantages or disadvantages to these various approaches, I am not about to say one is correct and all the others are wrong. All believe ongoing confession of sin is vital to our Christian walk. Since the article focuses on the Catholic expression of confession, one advantage I see to it's approach is that it calls for the regular practice of confession, though I have met many Roman Catholics who have not been to the confessional for many years.
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written by Bill, February 04, 2011
The Council of Trent made clear that a Roman Catholic priest was given two charisms at ordination: the ability to confect the Eucharist (to turn the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ), and to forgive sins. This priesthood is called Sacerdotal and these gifts are NOT given to Protestant ministers as they have severed themselves from the Vine. "I am the Vine and you are the branches". John 6:"Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood you shall not have eternal life". And they murmured among themselves saying, These are hard sayings. Who can stand them? And they left Him, including many of his disciples.

This goes on even to this day. Pray for ourselves and pray for each other they we will not weaken in the Faith!
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written by Louise, February 04, 2011
My fundamentalist Protestant niece (she's collecting Soc. Securtiy now) said, "I don't need to go to a priest, I just ask God to forgive my sins--whatever they are." I wonder whether that is what Protestants mean by "confessing directly to God." If that suffices for repentance, contrition, confession, penance and, perhaps, restitution, how or when does one ever look into the depths of one's soul or take responsibility for underlying attitudes that are the cause of one's sins and offenses? And how can one ever be sure that one is forgiven? I think I would be very wary of hanging my eternal salvation on "whatever they are."
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written by James Danielson, February 04, 2011
Mr. Rentzel equivocates on the meaning of "confession." Our author here is writing of a sacrament of the Church ministered by priests whose grace to serve is mediated through a bishop in succession to the apostles. "Confession" in this writing is not a gathering of folks who tell each other of their faults.
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written by chris in maryland, February 04, 2011
The Resurrected Jesus Sends “the Twelve” to Forgive Sins: [John 20: 21-23] (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
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written by Grump, February 04, 2011
Achilles, thanks for your prayers. I'll pray for you, too, but somehow I don't seem to get through based on prior experience. Still, I'll keep trying. Everyone on TCT and I mean everyone puts up with my foolish and sometimes snarky ramblings gracefully, and I must say I keep coming back because you all seem to exude true Christian kindness. I only wish the world were filled with such as you.
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written by Achilles, February 04, 2011
Thanks Grump. It seems to me that your cry is one of the good man baffled by the failed enlightenment, just as I was baffled for my first 40 years. Only I had a distinct advantage over you, I was not a good man, and in all likelihood, still am not. It is your honesty that is most compelling. I was ambushed, God pulled out the big guns with me. I met a woman 5 years ago and she invited me and my family to visit a catholic church, and I said “it will be a cold day in hell when I set foot in a catholic church.” It is a long and shameful story. St. Augustine said “foolish is the man who tries to see god with the bodily eyes, it is through the lens of the heart only that we can see God and the lens is not clear. How do we clear the lens? Through faith.” (my bad paraphrase) He was speaking of the Beatitude “Blessed are the pure in heart…” and said that living the Beatitudes that lead up to the pure in heart was the way to cleanse the lens.
Grump, I would love to hear your story. Achilles
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written by Lee Gilbert, February 04, 2011
My biblical studies prof, a Catholic, went to Fuller Theological for his graduate work and in class one day as the students were reading through John in Greek they came across the passage at John 20:23- "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." If they had ever seen that passage before, it didn't strike them then as it did now. They cornered my prof after class and questioned him closely about it. Then they went to a local Catholic Church to confess their sins, since we are the only Church (the Orthodox excepted, of course)that claims to have the power of absolution.

And that, of course, is critical. Confess your sins however much you wish to your pastor, to your prayer group, to God in Heaven, until someone with the power to do so absolves you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, you have every reason to wonder whether you are absolved of your sins.
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written by Grump, February 04, 2011
Achilles, I do not think TCT would permit my story, even in outline form, to be printed here. I have never claimed to be "good." In fact, I would agree with God that I am "filthy rags," which is why I do not think I am worthy of salvation.

I will omit details, except to say that I have sinned more than I have been sinned against. Nonetheless, like Ivan Karamazov in The Karamazov Brothers, I cannot possibly understand why God allows innocent children to suffer; adults, I can understand, but not children. It was a personal experience many years ago, and a disappointment of great proportions, that caused me to lose my faith -- a faith that I cannot seem to regain.
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written by Kathy, February 04, 2011
Rudy, do those little groups of people one confesses to as you described keep your sins secret? I'd guess you can't count on it despite instructions that "whatever is said here stays here."

I got out of the Catholic Church for awhile, went to a nondenominational church and student fellowship and believed that I could confess "straight to God." It was frankly pretty useless to do so. My personal "I'm doing great" filter was just too thick. I can't tell you the indescribable joy the day I returned to the Church and made my first good confession. I have gone frequently ever since. There's nothing like it. I'm glad the Church "makes" us do it.
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written by John Thayer Jensen, February 04, 2011
I remember my first confession, after having been a Protestant for 25 years - and with a lot of stuff to confess. I went into the confessional (this was 15 years ago) terrified. I came out - I can't tell you how it made me feel - I have tears at the memory. I wanted to run and shake my fellow Reformed mates and shout at them, "Man, you don't know what you are missing!! Run, do not walk, to the nearest priest, tell him you want to be a Catholic. Do not wait!"

The Blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin - it does, and it is applied in the Confessional. I go to Confession every week now. After the Eucharist, it is the best thing the Church has to offer.
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written by Diane Peske, February 04, 2011
One thing you don't mention, Dr. Beckwith - and I'd be curious if this IS a factor for you...is the psychological component that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation you make yourself accountable verbally to another, which, for any of us - certainly 'raises the stakes' of the nature of 'confession.' Having begun with my 1st Confession in a darkened box pre-Vatican 2 terrified - then in adulthood leaving Catholicism and relishing throwing off the 'constraints' of my faith ( and ESPECIALLY Confession to a priest)....then returning as a repentent Catholic 2 years ago - that moment of looking in the face of a priest and unburdening my heart of its sins was the most freeing experience of forgiveness I ever had in my adult life.

I continue with face to face Confession with this humble priest and I find that the mere fact of that kind of accountability is yet one more weapon in my possession to not be 'led into temptation'. I simply want to please my Lord with obedience and the thought of disappointing HIM and sharing this with the one in Apostolic sucession to stand in that place for me - is a great help in the process of becoming more like Jesus - our baptismal goal.

Our dear Reformation-Christians have no idea of what they are missing.
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written by Constantine, February 05, 2011
Dr. Beckwith,

It is always interesting to see Catholics try to justify sacramentalism with a Marcion-like disregard for the Old Testament. In fact, a quick review of your article shows 30 citations from the New Testament and none from the Old! Did the Old Testament – which Jesus affirmed down to the smallest key stroke (Matthew 5:17-21) – have nothing to say on the matter? I think it did.

God the Father, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, promised that He would create a New Covenant with “people of Israel and with the people of Judah” signifying His elect. God's promise to His covenant children is that He will “forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34). This passage is so critical that the writer of Hebrews includes it twice (Hebrews 8:8-12; 10:16-17). In all three instances, God's covenant children have their sins forgiven before the inception of the New Covenant – not after. And certainly not after some sacrament.

So when one reads about the “wrongdoers” in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 one sees that Paul is talking about those outside the covenant. Likewise, those referred to in Galatians 5:19-21 as those “who live like this”. And surely one cannot read Ephesians 5 as referring to “backsliders” without erasing the surety promised to the same Ephesians in chapter 1. Those Ephesians who were chosen “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:3) and who were were “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit GUARANTEEING our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession”(Eph. 1:13-14). To do so makes a mockery of the entire letter.

And I am left wondering if you read the J.N.D. Kelly paragraph you refer to. When you say that “by the beginning of the third century, the ecclesial and theological elements on which today’s private confession is based”, Kelly says, “In spite of the ingenious arguments of certain scholars, there are still NO SIGNS OF A SACRAMENT OF PRIVATE PENANCE( i.e. confession to a priest, followed by absolution and the imposition of a penance) such as Catholic Christendom knows to-day.” (emphasis added) (Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian doctrines, 5th ed. Continuum, 2008, p. 316). And that comes directly from the page to which you linked! Are Catholics really so gullible as to fall for this sleight of hand?

At any rate, here is the irony of the Catholic sacrament of confession. For those who are covenant children, the sacrament has no effect because God the Father is good to his Word and they have been forgiven, in advance. For those who are Roman Catholics that are outside of the covenant nothing they can do can override the will of God so the sacrament is nothing but the raising of false hope.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Jesus disapproves of sacramental confession in Mark 2. In this passage, seeking to prove His divinity, Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic. The Pharisees, not realizing Christ as God, ask “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) But Jesus is “God alone” and that is precisely why He can forgive sins (in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies!). For Catholics to maintain that any man is instrumental in the forgiveness of sins is take the side of the Pharisees and not the side of Christ.

I wish you well.

Peace.
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written by Achilles, February 05, 2011
Grump, thanks for sharing that, I too have sinned much more than I have been sinned against. I too am 'filthy rags'. My heart breaks at your words. You have a good mind and claim to have a recalcitrant heart, but if you are as bad as you say there is hope. I too can not understand the suffering of the children. On your story, I surely would not want to cause pain or pry, so forgive the intrusion please.
As to your worth for salvation, there is no question. You are of incalculable intrinsic worth. It is in our pride that we cultivate habits that apparently devalue our worth and this illusion is very powerful, I should know it seems I have been given more pride than my share.
I am most disheartened by the loss of your faith and I fervently pray that your suffering becomes redemptive. Leon Bloy said, “the only real tragedy is to not become a saint.”
If you would like to talk to me next week by email I would very much like that, and if not, I keep you in my heart and in my prayers, please keep me in yours. It is but a splinter of light separates us at the moment. Your brother in Christ, achilles
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written by Jon Rowe, February 05, 2011
"Thus, it became clear to me that Christianity requires some way to deal with post-baptismal sin...."

There is the idea that once you are saved you NO LONGER SIN. The idea of being free from "sin" not just its consequences.

1 John 3:8

"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
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written by Louise, February 05, 2011
Thank you for your good wishes, Mr. Constantine, I wish you well, also.

Re: Sacramental confession: We can just say that it's part of "The Catholic Thing."
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written by Louise, February 05, 2011
(later)

All these Bible verses, these "proof texts" that get tossed around to prove whatever anyone wants to prove, prove only one thing: when you try to stand on a one-legged stool, you fall on your face--or your backside. :)

The Church that Jesus founded stands steadily and securely on three legs: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Jesus' own, unbroken promise to Peter, aka: the Magisterium. Without all three legs under a person, a person can fall off in any direction. Even the devil can quote Scripture--and did. But, as I said, "It's 'The Catholic Thing.' "
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written by Lee Gilbert, February 05, 2011
Mr. Constantine, you write,"For Catholics to maintain that any man is instrumental in the forgiveness of sins is to take the side of the Pharisees and not the side of Christ."

"The angel does not argue. He gives with pleasure. What he gives is not proof, but tidings." You are mistaken. In the confessional we confess our sins to Jesus Christ, and the priest in the person of Jesus Christ absolves us of them. You have no idea of what the Catholic priesthood is.

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.... Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:23).

Such are the tidings we offer you.

How are you going to explain the scriptures to us? On what authority? In all charity, who sent you? We have the teaching about Confession from the apostles and their successors. We don't listen to other voices, for Christ said, "He who hears you, hears me." And -aside from all other considerations- we recognize his voice.
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written by Kevin in Texas, February 05, 2011
Constantine's final lines reveal a misunderstanding of Catholic practice that is the basis for so many of the fundamental disagreements between Protestant and Catholic Christians: he believes that Catholics believe that the priest (the man himself) is somehow forgiving the sins of the repentant sinner. This is incorrect. The priest functions through all of the sacraments "in persona Christi", i.e., as Christ Himself, hence the priest functioning as a man has no power on his own to forgive sins. But acting as the person of Christ and hearing the confession of the Catholic sinner, he follows Christ's exact instructions to the Eleven on the Pentecost, as Dr. Beckwith refers to in this article; he goes out and forgives or retains sins as Christ, not as Father So-and-So. The words of the sacrament of confession bear this out, for the priest says, "I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Christ speaks those words of absolution--the priest is only His instrument. The same is the case when the priest confects the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood during the consecration at Mass--he is only an instrument for Christ and speaking in Christ's name to call down the Holy Spirit to perform the miracle of the consecration. No man has the power to confect the Eucharist on his own.
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written by Louise, February 05, 2011
When Jesus' words are recorded, it is important for the reader to distinguish whether He is speaking to the crowd or only, in private, to His Apostles. Words spoken to the crowd do not bear the same significance as words spoken only to the Apostles, who are the first Bishops of the Church and who are given the task of passing them on in their fullest meaning to their successors. That is a distinction that I never heard made in my Protestant days.
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written by Graham Combs, February 05, 2011
The Sacrament of Confession has been the most difficult part of being a practicing Catholic after a late-in-life conversion to the Church. Some of this is simply emotional or psychological -- revealing sin and weaknesses to someone I don't know. A young seminarian assured me that finding a father confessor that we can trust is often a matter of searching. Conversely, as someone who did enter therapy as a young man, I had a similar diffculty laying open my life to someone that not only did I not know, but whose values and beliefs were also completely unknown. I once sat silently through an hour session. Benedict XVI rightly has wondered aloud why rational secularist rarely seem to question total faith in a stranger. At least a priest, especially one who has supervised the RCIA classes, is someone who shares faith, belief, and a Catholic world view. Trust is far more rational in this sacramental context. That said, so far I'm averaging one confession every year and half. Not good enough. As for that feeling of lightness and relief that so many attest to, I've found that forgiveness begins with the act of reconciliation. It doesn't end after I walk out of the confessional (which, has now been converted into a room with two chairs, a table -- all of which looks like a mini-therapy office except for the comforting presence of a crucifix.)
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written by debby, February 06, 2011
dear mr. constantine and all protestants who may be reading this site,
first of all, let me bow to the excellent teaching Lee and Kevin have simply stated in a very small space.
i have only this to offer; it was today's (Sunday, Feb 6th) 2nd reading.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
"When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God."
this AM i was the Lector at my Church. i do not know why this happened; i certainly did not plan it. but upon proclaiming the Word i became physically struck with the Holy Spirit breathing His Word to all of us (of course, He always does this, i just don't personally experience Him in my physical body, ALL my senses...): "..that your faith may not rest on human wisdom, but on the power of GOD."
it is in fact this very POWER OF GOD WHO comes and cleanses my soul of my sins in the Sacraments. human beings like to reason and argue and debate and study and find out "why" and that is how God made us and is fine. However, when we stop there, when we refuse to step out in Faith and take Christ Jesus the Lord at His Word, whether we understand with our mind or not, we lose. we lose the POWER OF GOD.
i do not mean to be "graphic" but honestly, receiving All Christ bestowed upon us through the Church He established, is a Union of Body Spirit Soul, Mind Will Emotion, Natural and Supernatural Life, a complete and total self-giving and receiving of all. No less than a Bride abandons all of Herself with all Her Being to the embrace of her Husband who gives all of Himself, the very seed of Eternal Life- All for Her-There is No Other. This Union - This Communion can be ours in the Holy Spirit only by offering all of our being to Him HIS WAY. Let me know NOTHING but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Let all persuasive words, all human wisdom, melt before the Power Of God Who joins me to Him through His Love poured out on the Cross and bestowed to me by the Lavish Boundless Forgiveness He bathes me in
in Confession and Holy Eucharist.
Constantine, come all the way Home to Rome. He waits for you.
p.s. you too Grump, if you're still on...praying for you both.

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written by Christian, February 11, 2011
Re the need for physical confession to a priest:

As a human being comprising a unity of body and soul, confessing out loud in person to Jesus' authorized agent provides physical dimensions to repentance, humility, sorrow, forgiveness and reconciliation not available through a spiritual confession alone (although like other Catholics I do confess directly to Jesus through prayer as well).
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written by Noah, February 23, 2011
I am late to this string and will likely be unread. But, at age 49, I began the practice of at least monthly confession, and have been fairly consistent over the last three years. When times are tough, I go more frequently. The examination of conscience prepares me to face, in honesty, my defects of love. While I sometimes pull on only the small strings of venial minutia, I am always eventually confronted with the essential questions: Have I loved? Can I love? Will I love? And these questions are, if anything, the sturdy lifelines that help tie me to the Mystical Body of Christ. I emerge from my participation in the sacrament more aware, more forgiving, more patient, and more open to the souls of the persons I encounter. I decrease but God increases in many unusual ways - from the mutually recognizable goodwill of many strangers to small but intense moments of mutual forgiveness between loved ones and myself. I think that is where God lays: between the recognition of one's sinfulness and the suffering attainment of a State of Grace. With Grace, I am more honest, open, less fearful and more hopeful. I am, for a brief time, a small saint. It seems a whiff of heaven.
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written by Uche, March 05, 2011
In the confessional, the depth of God's love is made manifest. Emerging from the confessional, one is confronted with peace that passeth all understanding. The sacrament of reconciliation(confessing to the preist ) and the catholic priesthood are great gifts given to catholics( in deed the chriatian world ) by God, which non-catholics can not appreciate from their distant station from Rome.
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written by Jennifer, June 24, 2011
If a person is giving a Face to Face confession (by appointment) should that person be on their knees while doing so? And can you clasp your hands together and keep them down, or how?

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