Welcome to the LESSON Four in our CATECHESIS CORNER. Thanks for the questions and encouragement you sent, we appreciate the feedbacks, keep it on. Let us pray: Spirit of the Living God, enlighten our minds to know the Truth, strengthen our hearts to accept the Truth and cause us to live for the Truth. Through this Catechesis Corner, restore those who have fallen from the Truth, convince the doubting hearts, clarify the confuse mind and lead us all to the fullness of Truth through Christ our Lord. Amen
We have summarised all the questions that you sent regarding the sacrament of confession as WHY MUST CATHOLICS GO TO CONFESSION? Confession seems to be one of the least understood of the sacraments, both by Catholics and non-Catholics. Non-Catholics and many Catholics, often ask if they can confess their sins directly to God, and if God can forgive them without going through a Priest. Put differently, is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) necessary to have your sins forgiven or can’t you go straight to God? The questions miss a vital point about Sacrament of Confession and reveal a fundamental need for a profound understating of sin and what confession does. The lack of this deep understanding of sin and what confession does is partly responsible for its avoidance by some and being questioned by others. Why do we need this Sacrament, when we can confess directly to God?
Sins are thoughts, words, or actions that defy God’s will. When we sin, we don’t just break a law, we break/damage our communion with God and our communion with the Church the body of Christ. “We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” – Romans 12:5. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy.” – 1 Cor 12:26. Sin is not just a private matter, it affects the community you belong both ontologically and socially. “The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the Lord’s anger burned against the Israelites” (Joshua 7:1 read the whole of Joshua 6&7). Our sins affect or damages our relationship the church the body of Christ.
When we commit a mortal sin, we have ex-communicated ourselves from the bond we have with God and the Church. We are not literally excommunicated in a formal sense, but we are out of communion. So true repentance means reconciliation with God and His body the church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the process by which we restore communion between ourselves, God, and the Church. To restore the damaged bond of communion with Jesus and His bride, we need to go to confession. The Priest is not only representing Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he also represents Christ’s Body, the Church. So as a minister of God’s reconciliation, the Priest reconciles us with God and receive us back to the communion of the Church. CCC 1440 “Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with Him. At the same time, it damages communion with the Church. For this reason, conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church.” Thus, the ordinary way we have our grave sins forgiven is through the Sacrament of Confession. Confession is an absolutely amazing sacrament of God’s love and mercy for us that He has entrusted to the Church. If it has been a while since your last confession, I cannot encourage you enough to go, because in it you will find the true peace and forgiveness that we all desire in our hearts. To receive the sacrament of Penance worthily, we must: examine our conscience; be sorry for our sins; have the firm purpose of not sinning again; confess our sins to the Priest; be willing to perform the penance the Priest gives us. Nothing is comparable to the joy and peace which a believer has after a good and sincere confession.
Confession is the ordinary surest divine pathway to have your sins forgiven, it is not the only way. The Catechism says: “When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (CCC 1452). For venial sins Catholics do confess their sins ‘directly’ to God, during every mass, when they pray the Act of Contrition, the Divine mercy, the Fatima prayer, Stations of the Cross or pray privately with perfect contrition etc. As Catholics we utilize all means provided by Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. For mortal sins which excommunicates us from the communion of the church, there is need for us to reconcile both with God and His church through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
They were only two times when God breathes, first was when He breathed life (Gen.2:9) and the second when He gave His Apostles power to forgive sins, think about this. The risen Lord instituted this sacrament on the evening of Easter when He showed Himself to His Apostles 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 20:22-23). Jesus gave the power and authority to forgive sins to His Apostles, through whom it is extended to presbyters (priests) who are entrusted with the apostolic ‘ministry of reconciliation’. This power to forgive sins is exercised in faith through the sacrament of Reconciliation. God in His wisdom and love gave mortal men the power to forgive sin, don’t be like the Jews who lacking understanding of who Jesus was, questioned why and His power to forgive sins. Jesus has given the same power to His bride the Church, avail yourself the opportunity and tap from this divine provision or means of forgiveness by going to confession. God Bless you.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may our learning deepen and strengthen our faith in Christ Jesus the TRUTH t in the name of Jesus the Lord. Thanks for reading through, see you in our next edition, endeavour to carry out the study guide below little by little daily before the next lesson. Help to deepen the understanding of the faith by giving a copy of DSD to someone and invite him or her to read the catechesis corner.
FURTHER BIBLE READING: Matthew 16:28-29; Mark 18:18; Luke 5:21-24; John 20
;22-23, 2 Corinthians 6:5:18
CATECHESIS STUDY GUIDE: CCC No. 1425-1470
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “UNDERSTANDING THE SACRAMENTS PENANCE” by Lawrence E. Mick
TAKE HOME QUESTION: Why go to confession if you can be forgiven without it?