Universalis, About this blog

Monday, July 04, 2005

Our Last Confession

Russel Shaw writes a nice, short article with a lot of punch ("Guilty as Sin"). Ponder this one:
 A Catholic friend once informed me he hadn't been to confession in years and added, "I don't feel any need for it." To be sure. The relevant question is: Why not?
If the answer runs along the lines of "I don't have anything to confess," then there are only two logical causes for that. Either one is an immaculate saint, unlikely for anyone on God's green earth, or one needs to raise the standards of saintliness just a tad. Mr. Shaw also points this out:
 But a Catholic who accepts the Church's teaching that Christ instituted this sacrament for the forgiveness of sin must accept the corollary that this is how Christ ordinarily wants our sins to be forgiven and is, exceptional circumstances aside, the necessary means of forgiveness in the case of mortal sin.
Many will offer differing exegesis on the relevant Scriptural passages (Matthew 18:15-18, John 20:21-23) where Christ gives his apostles the power to declare sins as forgiven or retained, and examples of this function used (2 Corinthians 2:7). Likewise the passages relating to the Jewish practice of priests participating in the public acknowledgment of someone's uncleanliness (archtype of a sinful nature) having been cleansed (interpreted as the curse of sin being lifted with sin's forgiveness). They might also bring up different interpretations for the centuries-old practice of public confessions and public penance from the first century on, or dismiss them entirely. If you follow the more ancient and orthodox Catholic understanding, however, Mr. Shaw's point cannot be ignored. Recommended reading: From the Catholic Encyclopedia and from Father Alexander of the Russian Orthodox Church.

No comments: