CATHOLIC CONFESSION IN A NUTSHELL
By Steven Speray
April 2, 2007
Confession is a major stumbling block for many who might easily become Catholic if it were not for certain beliefs as this one. However, for the Catholic, the sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation is so crucial that refusing to practice it is the same as refusing to be Christian. Rejecting Confession is ultimately rejecting Christ who instituted it. That’s right; it was Jesus who gave us this sacrament. It is clearly mentioned in the Holy Bible when interpreted in the logical and historical context.
An accusation I occasionally hear from the common heretic is: Catholics have it so easy, they can go all week drinking, cursing, and smoking, etc, and go to a priest for confession on Saturday believing they are forgiven and turn around and do it all over again. Yet, the very same heretic is the one who will go all week drinking, cursing and carrying on and then claims to go inside a room and confess secretly to God well aware that he will also do it all over again.
Question: Which would be harder: Going to a priest or secretly to God? Catholics are not looking for the easy way out but the route given to us by Christ.
The fact is good Catholics do not believe they can go on sinning with the presumption of having it all forgiven in Confession. It would be a sacrilege to abuse the Sacrament of Confession with sins one is not truly sorry for. Catholics must be truly repentant with the intention never to sin again. Without both of these elements, Confession is worthless and becomes a sin in itself.
However, is it so that those who claim to go to God in secret actually confess each and every individual sin? Do they actually confess each sin knowing God already knows each and every one of them? I’ll let them answer that one.
Confessing each individual sin is an acknowledgment of what one actually did to offend Almighty God. It is much more profound than merely saying to God that you are sorry for your sins.
In trying to trap the Catholic, the common heretic will ask: Why do Catholics confess their sins to man instead of God since it would be blasphemy to believe man does what only God can do?
This is precisely what the Scribes and Pharisees did with Jesus several times. They accused him of doing only what God can do. And how did Christ answer them each time?
WHAT THE HOLY BIBLE SAYS
“And behold they brought to him a paralytic, lying on the bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” –he then said to the paralytic-“Rise, take up your bed and go home,” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:2-8)
Jesus did not tell them that he was God. He was acting and speaking in His Human Nature proving that He healed the soul of the paralytic by making him physically well. The last verse (8) says that men have been given this power, not so much as the miracle of the physical healing but rather the healing of the soul which the miracle proved had happened. It indicates that Jesus who came to forgive sins has also passed this on to his Church.
To better clarify Christ passing on his divine power of forgiving sins to his Church we turn to other passages in Holy Writ:
“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 20:21-23)
All the power given to Jesus by the Father, Christ now gives to his Apostles; not to any one else but only to his Apostles. Christ the God-man breathes the Spirit into his Apostles (just as God breathed life into Adam in Genesis) and gives them power of not only forgiving sins but also the power of retaining them.
The Apostles could not forgive or retain sins unless someone confesses specific committed sins. There it is! The practice of confessing sins to man is found and justified in the Holy Bible. Also, it has been practiced from the time of the Apostles. Catholicism is the religion of the Holy Bible and Christian history.
Today, the common heretic continues to accuse Catholics of doing what they claim only God can do just as the Scribes and Pharisees did with Jesus. See other passages of Scripture such as in (John 8:3-11) when Jesus told the woman caught in Adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”
Or, in (Luke 7:36-50) when He told the woman who washed his feet, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Yes, Jesus is God and can forgive sins, and just as He has the power to forgive sins we see Him passing it on to His Apostles in (John 20.)
Since these same Apostles were given the special power of forgiving sins so too they passed it on as it was passed on to them.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespassed against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (II Corinthians 5:18-20)
The ministry of Reconciliation is the ministry of the Catholic priesthood. It was given only to those whom the power itself has been given. Ordinary layman can forgive sins committed against themselves but not on behalf of God as priests.
“Is any one among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them 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 ahs committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:2-16)
Notice that it is the elders who have the power. Elders are the bishops and priests and no one appoints themselves bishops and priests but must be ordained by them.
For no one gives themselves the power to forgive and anoint, but must be received by someone who has been given this power by someone who has been given this power going back to the Apostles themselves. This is what Apostolic Succession is and it is the only way one receives the power to forgive sins, which ultimately comes from Jesus Christ himself.
For those who would like to argue these Scripture verses and give a different spin on them, I would like to add that by doing so would be contrary to the historical interpretation and practice.
For Catholics, Confession is practiced because it has always been the practice of Apostolic Times, which the Scriptures and history indicate. For the common heretics who try to base their religion on what they think the Bible is saying to them is actually anti-Scriptural and anti-historical because the Scriptures themselves tell us to hold to everything that has been taught and delivered from the beginning. (II Thessalonians 2:15, Jude 1) Novel interpretations that run contrary to the historical teachings and practices are warned against by St Paul in (II Timothy 4:3-4) and (Galatians 1:7-9.)
Rejecting Catholic Confession equals a gospel contrary to Christ.