by Catholic Doors Ministry
Introductory note: All references to “C.C.C. ###” are references to Numbered Paragraph in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- This Bible Course is intended to educate Catholics on the spiritual wealth that is enjoyed through the Church Sacrament of Confession, truly a Divine gift to mankind. As will be shown, this Sacrament is a door that must be crossed over in order to achieve salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
THE SACRAMENTS OF THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH
- The Holy Catholic Church enjoys seven Sacraments. They are the Sacraments of: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. These Sacraments are similar to the phases of the natural life and the phases of the spiritual life. They include being born, growth, healing and answering one’s calling to live His Christian faith in Christ. (C.C.C. # 1210)
- The whole liturgical life of the Catholic Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Sacraments. (C.C.C. # 1113)
THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENTS
- In so great a work, the ministry of salvation, Jesus is always present in His living Church, in its services and in the administration of all of the Sacraments.
- When you receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, you receive the real Divine presence of the Body and Blood of Christ from His real Divine and invisible presence through the ministry of the priests. Equally, when you were baptized, it was Jesus who baptized you. When you receive the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus is truly present through the ministry of the priests, hearing your confession.
- When the holy Scriptures are read, it is Jesus Himself who is speaking to you. Equally, when you pray and sing in the Church, Jesus is once more there because He promised that, “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” [Mt 18:20] (C.C.C. # 1088)
THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
- Christian initiation, (introduction to the Catholic Faith,) is established by the implementation of three Sacraments. First, there is the Sacrament of Baptism that introduces the person to the new life. Secondly, there is the Sacrament of Confirmation that strengthens the new life. Thirdly, there is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that feeds the believer with the Body and Blood of Christ for his inner transformation in Christ. (C.C.C. # 1275)
- These three Sacraments lay the foundation of every Christian life. They permit the individual to share in the Divine nature of God that is given to all men through the grace of Christ. Receiving an increasing measure of the treasures of the Divine life, Christians advance towards the perfection of charity. (C.C.C. # 1212)
THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE SACRAMENTS
- The Catholic Church maintains that for the believers to receive their salvation, they require the Sacraments. [Council of Trent, A.D. 1547]
- Through the “sacramental grace”, the grace of the Holy Spirit that is given by Christ in accordance with each Sacrament, the Holy Spirit heals and transforms the believers in the likeness of Jesus. By receiving the Sacraments, the faithful participate in the Divine nature of God by being united to Jesus Christ, the Saviour. (C.C.C. # 1129)
BAPTISM, THE FIRST SACRAMENT OF FORGIVENESS
- Jesus united the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” [Mk. 16:15-6] Baptism is the first and most important Sacrament of forgiveness because it unites us with Christ who died for our sins and rose so we may be made just in the eyes of God that “we too might walk in newness of life.”[Rom. 6:4] (C.C.C. # 977)
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SACRAMENTS
- Keeping with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, the apostolic Traditions in accord with the beliefs of the early Church Father, the Holy Catholic Church professes that all the Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord. (C.C.C. # 1114; Council of Trent, 1547 A.D.)
- “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,” Jesus showed himself to his apostles. “He breathed on them, 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”‘ (C.C.C. # 1485) [Jn 20:19, 22-23]
ATTAINING THE GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION
- Jesus established the Sacrament of Confession for all the members of the Catholic Church who are sinners. Most important of all, it is for those who have lost the grace of God originally received from the Sacrament of Baptism, this damaging their perfect union with the Church. For them, the Sacrament of Confession provides the opportunity to convert and to regain the grace of justification. (C.C.C. # 1446)
THE ADMINISTRATORS OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
- Christ placed the administration of the Sacrament of Confession in the hands of His apostles. Based on this truth, the Catholic Church Bishops who are the successors of the apostles and the priests who are united in cooperation with the Bishops, are the administrators of this ministry. As such, the Bishops and the priests have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (C.C.C. 1461)
- Only the priests who have received the power of forgiving sins from the authority of the Church are permitted to forgive sins in the name of Christ. (C.C.C. 1495)
THE SACRAMENTAL SEAL
- What a penitent shares with a priest during the Sacrament of Confession is sacred and cannot be revealed to anyone else for any reason whatsoever. What is said during the “Sacrament” of Confession is “sealed” forever, never to be repeated. The Church proclaims that every priest who hear confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He cannot use this information to his advantage. It is a crime for a priest in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason. (C.C.C. # 1467, 2490)
OTHER NAMES FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
- What is the difference between the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Conversion, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, the Sacrament of Penance, the Sacrament of Reconciliation – are these different Sacraments? No! They are all one and the same, the Sacrament that leads to the forgiveness of sins. (C.C.C. # 1486, 1423-4)
- The Sacrament of Confession is called the Sacrament of Conversion because after having strayed away from the Father in sin, the individual is drawn towards conversion by the real presence of Jesus in this Holy Church Sacrament. (C.C.C. # 1423)
- It is the Sacrament of Penance because it meets the individual’s personal and Church requirements to convert, to repent and to do satisfaction for his sins. (C.C.C. # 1423)
- It is the Sacrament of Confession because it meets the requirement to confess one’s sins to a priest while acknowledging and praising the holiness of God and His mercy towards sinners. (C.C.C. # 1424)
- It is the Sacrament of Forgiveness because God grants the penitent pardon and peace through the sacramental absolution of the priest. (C.C.C. # 1424)
- It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it bestows upon the sinner the life of God who reconciles. It leads the sinner towards answering his Divine call to live by God’s merciful love through reconciliation with one’s neighbours. [Mt. 5:24; 2 Cor. 5:20] (C.C.C. # 1424)
THE HISTORY OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
- Since the early days of the Holy Catholic Church, the manner in which the Sacrament of Confession was being administered has greatly changed.
- In the first century, those who committed grave sins such as idolatry, murder or adultery, (ie. marital unions from non- recognized divorces) had to undergo demanding discipline that sometimes lasted for years before they could be forgiven of their sins. These penitents were rarely admitted back into the Church, in certain regions, only once in a lifetime.
- During the seventh century, following the Eastern monastic tradition, Irish missionaries began the practice of “private” penances which did not require public and long-term penances before the repentant believer could be reconciled with the Church. Since that time, the Sacrament of Confession has been administered in secret between the penitent and the priest.
- Through this practice, the forgiveness of grave and venial sins has been combined into one sacramental celebration. (C.C.C. # 1447)
- Although this Sacrament of Confession has undergone changes over the centuries, the two main elements remains. First of all, the person has to spiritually experience conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit, this including, contrition (regret), confession and satisfaction. Secondly, the person must be forgiven of his sins by God in the name of Jesus Christ through the bishop or his priests who decide the manner of satisfaction, pray for the sinner and do penance with him. Consequently, the sinner is healed and reunited in fellowship with the Church. (C.C.C. # 1448)
WHAT THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION DOES
- When the penitent receives the Sacrament of Confession, he places himself before the merciful judgment of God to receive the judgment he would have otherwise received at the end of his earthly life. He is being judged now, in this life where he can make the free choice between eternal life and death. (C.C.C. # 1470)
- Through the Sacrament of Confession, the penitent overcomes the barrier that could prevent him from entering the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, being denied God’s eternal gift and glory if he has committed a grave sin. The Holy Scriptures clearly teaches that grave sins consist of sexual immorality, fornication, impurity, sorcery, greediness, idolatry, the usage of abusive language, drunkardness, robbery, enmities, strife, licentiousness, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, those who love and practice falsehood, and the likes of these things. [1 Cor 5:11; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 22:15.] (C.C.C. # 1470)
- In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.” [Jn 5:24] (C.C.C. # 1470)
- The six benefits that are received through the Sacrament of Confession are:
1) Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers his state of grace;
2) Reconciliation with the Church;
3) The remission of the eternal punishment incurred through mortal sins;
4) The remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
5) Peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
6) An increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
- By approaching the Sacrament of Confession, the penitent obtains pardon from God’s mercy for the sins he has committed against God, therefore being reconciled with the Holy Catholic Church which was wounded by the shipwreck of one of its members. (C.C.C. # 1422, 1496)
RECONCILIATION WITH GOD AND THE CHURCH
- The greatest effect of sin is that it is an offense against God. Sin breaks away the communion that you have with God. Consequently, it damages the communion that you have with the Church. Because of this, conversion involves both, the forgiveness of God and reconciliation with the Church which are received by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (C.C.C. # 1440)
- Through the Sacrament of Penance, the baptized is reconciled with God and with the Church. (C.C.C. # 980)
- The early Church Father called the Sacrament of Penance “a labourious kind of baptism.” As the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for those who have not yet been reborn, the Sacrament of Penance is necessary for the salvation of those who have turned to sin after having received their Sacrament of Baptism. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.]
- The spiritual blessing that is received from the Sacrament of Penance consist of restoring us to God’s grace and joining us to Him in an intimate friendship. Reconciliation is the ultimate purpose and effect of the Sacrament of Penance. (C.C.C. 1468)
- After having been reconciled with God, to receive peace and serenity of conscience with a strong spiritual consolation, the penitent must approach the Sacrament of Confession with a contrite heart and religious disposition. Then, he truly experiences a “spiritual resurrection,” being restored to the dignity and blessings that the children of God receive, the most precious being friendship with God. (C.C.C. # 1468)
- Through the Sacrament of Penance, the forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being by regaining the innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brothers and sisters in Christ who were offended and wounded. As a living stone of the Body of Christ, he is reconciled with the Church. And he is reconciled with the whole of creation. (C.C.C. # 1469)
THE RULES OF SPIRITUAL CONDUCT
- The Catholic Church has three precepts (rules of spiritual conduct), that each believer must practice in order to maintain his living faith in Christ and in the Church.
- Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation in order to participate in the Eucharistic celebration with the Christian community in commemoration of the Resurrection of the Lord. (C.C.C. # 2042)
- Catholics are required to confess their sins at least once a year by the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ensure their preparation for the Eucharist that continues the Sacrament of Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness. (C.C.C. # 2042)
- Catholics are required to receive at a minimum their Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. (C.C.C. # 2042)
THE AGE OF DISCRETION
- The Catholic Church commands that after having reached the age of discretion, each of the believers is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess their serious sins at least once a year. (C.C.C. 1457)
- Children are required to go to the Sacrament of Penance prior to receiving Holy Communion for the first time. (C.C.C. 1457)
WAYS IN WHICH SINS ARE FORGIVEN
- The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. From the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the early Church Fathers, it is made known that fasting, prayer and almsgiving express conversion in relationship to oneself, to God and to others. Over and above the miraculous rebirth that is experienced in Baptism or the radical purification from martyrdom, they teach that one can obtain the forgiveness of his sins through:
An effort to reconcile with one’s neighbour;
Tears of repentance;
Concern for the salvation of one’s neighbour;
The intercession of the saints; and
The practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” (C.C.C. # 1434)
- Other ways that revive the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and which contribute to the forgiveness of sins are:
Reading Sacred Scripture;
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours;
Praying the Our Father (included in the Holy Rosary); and
All sincere acts of worship and devotion. (C.C.C. # 1437)
- These spiritual acts of love and charity are not to be substituted for the Sacrament of Confession. While they may serve the purpose of obtaining forgiveness by the grace of God for venial sins, they may not serve the purpose of forgiving grave sins. Such would leave a believer short of having received forgiveness for his sins.
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
- The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, which has the power to arouses in us the desire to perform acts of charity towards others, preserves us from future mortal sins. As the believer matures in Christ, it become more difficult to break away from His friendship in mortal sin.
- The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is for those who are in full communion with the Church. It is not to be perceived as a means of obtaining the forgiveness of sins – such being proper to the Sacrament of Confession. (C.C.C. 1395)
- So great and holy is the moment when one receives Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that such requires prior preparation before one responds to this invitation. In the words of St. Paul, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” [1 Cor 11:27-29]
CONFESSION PRIOR TO COMMUNION
- When one is conscious of having committed a grave sin, even if he experiences sincere remorse, he is obligated to receive the Sacrament of Confession and sacramental absolution prior to receiving Holy Communion. (C.C.C. # 1385, 1457)
- The exception to this command is that the person has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. An example would be the availability of a lay minister to administer the Sacrament of Communion while there is no availability of a priest to administer the Sacrament of Confession. (C.C.C. 1457)
- The individual, complete and sincere confession and absolution is the only means through which the faithful can reconcile themselves with God and the Church. (The holy Catholic Church does not recognize as valid the promotion of private confession on the Internet.) The importance of this is based on the fact that Christ is at work in each of the Sacraments.
- In the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus personally says to the sinner, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” [Mk. 2:5] Jesus is the physician who attends to the individual need of the sick who are in need to be cured by Him. [Mk. 2:17] It is He who raises the sick and reunites them into fellowship with the members of the Church. (C.C.C. # 1484)
PREPARING ONESELF TO RECEIVE CONFESSION
- In preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confession, one does an examination of conscience. This can be assisted by reading specific passages from the Holy Bible. Suitable readings are those that address moral issues in the Gospels and the apostolic Letters such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings. (C.C.C. # 1454) [Recommended Readings: Mt. 5-7; Rom. 12-15; 1 Cor. 12-13; Gal. 5; Eph. 4-6]
THE ESSENTIAL CONFESSION OF ALL SINS
- Confession to a priest is the most important part of the Sacrament of Confession. At the Council of Trent, 1551 A.D., it was stated: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.” [Ex. 20:17; Mt. 5:28] (C.C.C. # 1456)
- When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the Divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the Divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.” (C.C.C. # 1456; Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)
THE CONFESSING OF VENIAL SINS
- Sincerely seeking to reconcile with God and the Church, after a careful examination of conscience, one must confess all the unconfessed sins he remembers to a priest. While it is not necessary in itself, the Church highly recommends that one also confesses his venial faults. (C.C.C. # 1493)
REPENTANCE, CONFESSION AND REPARATION
- The Sacrament of Confession includes the following actions:
- Confession (disclosure) of the sins.
- Receiving God’s forgiveness through the absolution of the priest.
- The intention to make reparation and do works of reparation. (C.C.C. # 1491)
THE STEP BY STEP STRUCTURE
- Like all the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Confession is a service that has a format. It includes:
- The priest greets and blesses the penitent.
- The priest reads the Word of God to.
2.1 Enlighten the conscience,
2.2 Draw contrition, and
2.3 Exhort repentance.
- The penitent confesses his sins by making them known to the priest.
- The priest imposes a penance.
- The penitent accepts the penance.
- The priest gives his absolution.
- The penitent recites a prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
- The priest dismisses the penitent with a blessing.
- This sacramental service is not complete in itself until such time as the penitent has performed the penance that he has received from the priest. (C.C.C. # 1480)
INTERIOR CONVERSION OF THE HEART
- Jesus calls for a conversion of the heart, an interior conversion and penance. Without this, the penance is fruitless and false. An interior conversion draws the penitent towards visible signs of sincere repentance by his gestures and works of penance. (C.C.C. # 1430)
- In a true interior repentance, the penitent experiences a drastic transformation of his whole life. Converted, he returns to God with all his heart. He experiences an end to sin. He turns away from evil. He is disgusted with the evil actions that he has performed.
- During this time, the penitent desires and makes a resolution to change his life, hoping in God’s mercy and trusting in His infinite grace for assistance in time of need.
- In a true repentance of heart, the human spirit is afflicted. The penitent experiences deep interior pain and sadness for his sins. At the same time, he experiences inner peace and joy in his knowledge of the infinite mercy of God, praising and glorifying God for the undeserved goodness. (C.C.C. # 1431)
REPENTANCE BY THE GRACE OF GOD
- Prior to the Sacrament of Baptism, man had a human heart (a worldly mind) that was heavy and hardened. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, man has received a new heart. [Ezek. 36:26-7] Conversion is first of all a work by the grace of God who draw the sinners towards Him: “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored.” [Lam. 5:21]
- Through the grace of God, we find the inner strength to start all over again. It is by discovering the greatness of the love of God that the new heart trembles by the horror and the weight of sin. It fears that it will offend God through sin and be separated from Him. The worldly mind is converted upon looking at Jesus who has been pierced by its sins. [Jn. 19:37; Zech. 12:10] The new heart is called to fix its eyes of the Blood of Christ that has been poured out for its salvation. It is called to perceive how important this is to the Heavenly Father who has bestowed the grace of repentance upon mankind. (C.C.C. # 1432)
- The grace of God is manifested through the Holy Spirit, who as the Advocate, proves the world wrong about sin, proving wrong those who do not believe in Jesus who has been sent by the Father. [Jn. 16:8-9] It is the same Spirit who brings sin to light, the Consoler, who blesses the worldly mind with the necessary grace to repent and convert. [Jn. 15:26; Acts 2:36-8; John Paul II, DeV 27- 48] (C.C.C. # 1433)
- Repentance, also known as ‘contrition,’ must be spiritually inspired by motives that arise from faith. (C.C.C. # 1492)
- “Perfect” contrition is repentance that arises from love of charity for God. It is a love by which God is loved above all else. Such contrition remits venial sins. When such includes the firm commitment to turn to the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible, it also obtains the forgiveness of mortal sins. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1452, 1492)
- Repentance based on any other motives then from love of charity for God is called “imperfect” contrition. This is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit by the grace of God, that can be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. Imperfect contrition stirs the conscience. It opens the spiritual mind by the prompting of grace for the sinner to perceive the ugliness of sin, the fear of eternal damnation and other penalties that may befall the sinner. Imperfect contrition in itself does not obtain the forgiveness of grave sins. It disposes the sinner to obtain forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1453, 1492)
THE FORMULA OF ABSOLUTION
- In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the administered formula of absolution expresses the main elements of the Sacrament of Confession, that forgiveness comes from its source, the Father of mercies. The Heavenly Father executes the reconciliation of the sinners through the Passover of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and the ministry of the Church.
- The formula of absolution that is recited by the priest is as follows:
God, the Father of mercies,
through the death
and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit. (C.C.C. # 1449)
- The Sacrament of Confession is not complete until one has made reparation. While absolution takes away sin, it does not correct all the wrongs that sin has caused. [Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.]
- Sin injures and weakens the sinner himself, his relationship with God and his relationship with his neighbours. Many kinds of sins are wrong doing against one’s neighbour such as in cases of theft or slander. In the act of reparation, the sinner must do what is possible to correct the wrong that has been done, such as returning stolen goods or restoring the reputation of a slandered person. Simple justice requires as much.
- Having been raised up from sin through the Sacrament of Confession, the sinner has not been reinstated in the fullness of righteousness in the eyes of God until he had done something more to amend for the sin. The sinner is required to “make satisfaction for” or “expediate” his sins. This is also called “penance.” (C.C.C. # 1459)
- For this reason, after the sinner has confessed his sins, he receives a penance from the priest. The penance must be completed in order for the Sacrament of Confession to be completed in itself and for the soul of the sinner to be reinstated in the fullness of righteousness in the eyes of God.
THE PENANCE IMPOSED BY THE CONFESSOR
- When the priest imposes a penance upon the sinner, while seeking the sinner’s spiritual good, he takes into consideration the personal situation of the sinner. As closely as possible, the penance must coincide with the gravity and nature of the sins that were committed.
- The penance received can consist of a prayer, an offering, a work of mercy, a service towards a neighbour, a self-denial, a sacrifice, and most important of all, patience in accepting the cross that one must bear. Such penances serve the purpose of transforming us in the likeness of Christ who alone expadiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.” [Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:1-2; Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.] (C.C.C. # 1460)
- Preparation for the Sacrament of Confession and united thanksgiving to God for the forgiveness received can also take place in fellowship with other Catholics during a communal celebration.
- An example of communal celebration would be when a classroom of children going to Church for the Sacrament of Confession. The following procedures would be implemented:
- Preparation for the Sacrament of Confession.
- The reading of an appropriate Holy Bible passage.
- An homily.
- An examination of conscience conducted in common.
- A communal request for forgiveness.
- During the communal celebration, the penitent are still required to undergo a private confession on a one-to-one basis with a priest at which time he receives individual absolution. “Individual, integral confession and absolution remains the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church.” (C.C.C. # 1484)
- The recitation of the Our Father and a thanksgiving in common.
- While the communal celebration of the Sacrament of Confession expresses more clearly the nature of penance that is administered within the Church, either way, on a one-to-one basis or in communal celebration, this Sacrament is always by its very nature a liturgical action, therefore, an ecclesial and public action. (C.C.C. # 1482)
COMMUNAL CONFESSION WHEN IN DANGER OF DEATH
- In exceptional cases of grave necessity, the diocesan bishop being the judge of whether or not the conditions for general absolution do apply, may permit a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution.
- Examples of grave necessity are:
There is approaching danger of death, such as during war time, without sufficient time for the priest(s) to hear individual confessions.
The number of penitents is so great that there are not enough priests to hear the individual confessions of each penitent in a reasonable time, this being of no fault to the penitents who would be denied sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time.
- For the general absolution to be valid in this case, the faithful must sincerely have the intention of confessing their sins on an individual basis in the time required.
- The following conditions do not constitute a grave necessity that would justify general absolution:
A large gathering of the faithful on a major feast.
A large gathering of the faithful on a pilgrimage.
The excuse that the Sunday Mass celebrant is not a resident priest of the parish when the means are available for the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Confession at another Diocesan Church which is only minutes away from the attending Church.
- For a general absolution to be valid, the faithful must have exhausted all means available to their disposal. If receiving the Sacrament of Confession requires contacting the Parish secretary to request for an arrangement for the penitent to meet with a priest in private, then such must be done. (C.C.C. 1483)
- Through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, the convert joins the Body of Christ, having been made righteous up until the moment of his baptism. This justification only covers the original sin and the sins that were previously committed, those before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. [Rom. 3:25-6] The Sacrament of Baptism is the first instalment that the believer receives, justification through the forgiveness of the original sin and past sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit. [2 Cor. 1:22]
- Following this, in order to maintain one’s righteousness in the eyes of God, the faithful is called to be sanctified in Christ by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. When the believer loses his righteousness through sin, especially through mortal sins, he is called to receive the Sacrament of Confession that reinstates his righteousness before God.
- Finally, having received the Sacrament of Confession and being in a state of grace, the faithful now qualifies to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the living Bread of life that guarantees salvation and eternal life. For, “whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Cor. 11:27-9]
- In the Parable of the Lamp under a jar, Jesus said, “Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” [Lk. 8:18]
- While some affirm that they are saved because they have faith in Jesus Christ or because they are a new creation or they have been baptized and the received indwelling Holy Spirit, they forget that the gift of the new creation and the indwelling Holy Spirit were the first installment. The final installment does not come until one has persevered in his living faith, until he has maintained his righteousness through the Sacrament of Confession and he has received his salvation through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life. If one does not accept this truth, he can lose even what he thinks he has, his first installment.
- Again, the Holy Sacrament of Baptism opens the door of righteousness to the soul. Following this, the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation maintains the door of righteousness opened to the soul. Finally, the Holy Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist secures the salvation of the righteous soul by blessing it with eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
This ends the course “The Sacrament Of Confession In The Catholic Church.” Having been blessed with this deeper spiritual knowledge by the grace of God, we pray that you will always strive to receive this Sacrament on a regular basis. This will assure your ongoing righteousness before the eyes of God. Our ministry congratulates you for your ongoing efforts to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. We encourage you to continue to do so by registering in other courses. We offer a wide selection of Catholic topics, each one being able to enrich your spiritual life. May the Holy Spirit inspire you to do what is necessary to guide you towards your sanctification.
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