Monday, April 27, 2009

Why do Catholics confess sins to a priest? #2

Why do Catholics insist on playing God by pretending to forgive peoples’ sins? Only Jesus can forgive sins, not men, so why do Catholics go to a living priest. No man can forgive sins.

I agree; a mere human cannot forgive sins, only Christ can.

In this post we talked about how the Bible tells us to confess sins to a priest, but the question still remains, why a physical person and not just Jesus? Yes, the Bible is clear that this is how sins are forgiven, but why?

First, when we confess sins to a priest, we aren’t confessing to just some person. No, I’m not saying priests are God, but they are set apart for a special purpose, and part of the priesthood is the authority to speak and act in persona Christi or “in the person of Christ”. Please check out this post if you have questions on in persona Christi.

In short, all actions of the priest are done by Jesus. Consecration of Eucharist, baptism, and forgiveness of sins are all done by Christ, the true high priest. The earthly priest simply acts in the person of Christ. In that way it is not the man who forgives sins, it is Christ himself through the priest.

The next reason why we confess sins to a priest is that each and every sin affects the whole community. No sin only affects the sinner, all sin affects the community. Sin by its nature draws a person away from God and this hurts not just the sinner but his family and friends. All around him are affected. The reason I bring this up is because the priest is the head of the parish community and he represents Christ (in persona Christ) who is head of the human family. The ripples of sin go all the way to the top, and that is where forgiveness must come from.

Next is the idea of penance. Penance is the action given by a priest after the sin has been forgiven to prevent the sin from happening again. Penance isn’t a punishment in today’s understanding. Penance is an action that helps us stay away from the sin in the future. This is a huge advantage of confessing sins to a priest; you get a concrete action you can perform to help keep you from committing the same sins again tomorrow.

The final reason is hardest to define yet arguably most important. Confession to a human, a priest, brings healing that isn’t there when you confess to Jesus directly. The humility of sharing your sins with another person and hearing another human say the words of absolution is amazingly powerful and does a lot to heal the guilt and wounds caused by sin. These things aren’t possible without another human.

5 comments:

dave ruiz said...

As a protestant catholic,I now believe that the bible admonishes us to confess our sins one to another. I believe to be new testament and not old, there is now wonderfully One class of priests -ALL BELIEVERS. Paul says there is this NEW priesthood. I disagree with the catholic catechism where it says there two classes of priests, which is the same old division(PRIEST AND LAY PERSON) of the old testament. Indeed sin has a ripple effect, the head being Christ is where forgiveness and confession BEGINS. It ends where the Spirit leads (to a brother or sister that we offended etc etc.). To say otherwise is to say Christ is not in us, in His fullness. There is absolutely no mention of priests needed for "confession" in the new testament.....As believers in Christ, He has written His laws in our new heart, and draws us to examine our lives before Him, to repent where necessary and ask for power to CHANGE, and to understand He will not love us any less or any more in our failures. Only Christ has the answer for the vanity of perpetual sacrifice for sin needed in the old testament, and let us be careful to to be vain and repetitious in our "confesional " practices in the new testament (which WAS my experience when said to a priest before being truly born again)..... Alleluia, we agree there is sin,it must be confessed, and because of Jesus ,we can be forgiven.

dave r said...

Sorry, I meant for us NOT to be vain and repetitious in our confessional practices in my above comment

Anonymous said...

I believe Jesus said that what ever He did, we his followers, disciples would do also, even greater ..The bible does speak of elders, bishops, in the way of administration. It also speaks of giftings, apart from administration - of teaching, healing, faith, discernment etc.. I do not see where a lay person can not act or do what Jesus did.....I certainly see no where the practice of penence(in the bible), perhaps repentance, and yes, praying for His help. My experience was of praying some Our Fathers and hail mary's, which per say have no specifity to the need (sin) itself. I could see praying for anger management or a lust problem or drinking specifically with the Lord and a brother .There is more reality to that prayer than a generic, cover all prayer that is wrote and repetitious, even though you are thinking hard about your prayer.

Anonymous said...

Actually, confession is a way to gain humility duress the admission of sins. It's too easy to confess to oneself and say it's "with God." If you're not a Catholic, and need not to confess to another human, it's basically too easy; there's no humility in it. Try it sometime; you will gain a new respect for confession to another human being.

dave ruiz said...

Yes,it is beneficial to confess your sins "one to another" But are we to make a "monument" to it like the apostles wanted to do after their "high" at the Transfiguration" ? Must we ritualize it ? Even make it a sacrament ? Even make it needing a priest ? and not a fellow brother or sister as originally intended. What begins in spirit and truth ends up in the flesh ? For by works of the flesh is no man justified. But yes, let us confess"one to another".