Confessing your sins

When another Christian sister or brother asks me, as a priest, about the Sacrament of Confession, I think a more interesting and possibly helpful question is whether they confess their sins to another believer in their congregation. I think the response is about 99% “No, I confess my sins to God in prayer.” By the way, I think that is very commendable and laudatory practice, one the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes and recommends in para. 1434 and following. I ask them what they think of James 5:16 from today’s reading. Mostly they are not aware of the verse. It says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” Continue reading

Breaking the chains

CONFESSIONOn a rather regular basis, I am asked via email about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and forgiveness of sins. The questions that I am thinking of are mostly from folks who are firmly entrenched in their Christian faith in the Protestant or Reformed tradition. But increasingly these days, inquiries also come from Catholics. Sometimes they are not really questions at all. They are invitations for me to debate them as they wish to free me from the errors of my Catholic beliefs or free the Catholic from the need to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The question is always some variation of “how can priests forgive sins” when – and here are the variations in their logic – (a) there is no such thing as priest, there is only Jesus as High Priest, (b) only God can forgive sins, (c) people only have one mediator, jesus Christ, and therefore one need only ask Jesus for forgiveness, (d) Scripture never talks about confessing sins to a priest, ….and I think that covers the common debate topics. Continue reading