Posts Tagged ‘penance’

Catholics should never doubt the wisdom of  Sacred Tradition in the Church. We sometimes are questioned ‘Why do Catholics do penance?’ or ‘Is the penitential spirit of Lent in Scriptures?’ Our answer to this should be an enphatic ‘Yes’!




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Why confess to a priest if Christ is our only Mediator? Says the Protestant. Every Catholic should know the answer to this question. But if you still don’t know, then read this:

According to the RCC, the Sacrament in question is called the Sacrament of RECONCILIATION or PENANCE, not confession, as it is popularly called. Catholics believe that no priest, as an individual man, however pious or learned, has the power to forgive sins apart from God. However, the Priest in the confessional, after having performed the preparation for the Sacrament by reciting the formula of absolution, forgives the sins of the penitent in Persona Christi or the person of Christ, as though we were confessing to Jesus Himself.

“Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything,
I have done for your sakes, in the person of Christ.” 2Corinthians 2:10

Likewise, we see this at Holy Mass, when the Priest blesses the offerings of bread and wine and asks God the Father to accept them and through the Holy Spirit, transform the substance ( NOT the form, therefore, Transubstantiation Miracle) into the Body and Blood of Christ, as Jesus Himself did at the Last Supper, it is no longer him who is performing the miracle of the Transubstantiation, but Christ himself through the Priest.

I. The authority for this is explained in the Scripture.

Jesus Christ Granted the Apostles His Authority to Forgive Sins*

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 and reconcile men with God, so Christ sends the apostles and their successors as ministers of reconciliantion.

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.

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 or the apostles would not be able to forgive anyone. The text makes this very clear.

Matt. 9:6; Mark 2:5,10 – Christ forgave sins as man (not God) to convince us that the “Son of man” has authority to forgive sins on earth.

Luke 5:24 – Luke also points out that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins is as the Son of Man.  This authority has been transferred from Christ to the apostles and their successors.

Matt. 18:18 – the apostles are given authority to bind and loose. The authority to bind and loose includes administering and removing the temporal penalties due to sin. The Jews understood this since the birth of the Church.

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 5:15-16 – in verse 15 we see that sins are forgiven by the priests in the sacrament of the sick. This is another example of man’s authority to forgive sins on earth. Then in verse 16, James says “Therefore, confess our sins to one another,” in reference to the men referred to in verse 15, the priests of the Church.

1 Tim. 2:5 – Christ is the only mediator, 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, the Church of Christ is one with Christ.

Lev. 5:4-6; 19:21-22 – even under the Old Covenant, God used priests to forgive and atone for the sins of others.

II. The Necessity and Practice of Orally Confessing Sins

James 5:16 – 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.

Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:5 – again, this shows people confessing their sins before others as an historical practice (here to John the Baptist).

1 Tim. 6:12 – this verse also refers to the historical practice of confessing both faith and sins in the presence of many witnesses.

1 John 1:9 – if we confess are sins, God is faithful to us and forgives us and cleanse us. But we must confess our sins to one another.

Num. 5:7 – this shows the historical practice of publicly confessing sins, and making public restitution.

2 Sam. 12:14 – even though the sin is forgiven, there is punishment due for the forgiven sin. David is forgiven but his child was still taken (the consequence of his sin).

Neh. 9:2-3 – the Israelites stood before the assembly and confessed sins publicly and interceded for each other.


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