We already dealt with forgiveness in the answer to the question, Does God Forgive Everything? (part 1 and 2 on 2nd and 3rd of March) This is a question related to the same topic.
Sin is an offence against God; it also damages communion with the Church. Therefore, sin is not only personal but communal. Hence, it requires both God’s forgiveness and our reconciliation with the Church.
Only God forgives sins. But he gives this power to His Apostolic successors to exercise in His name.
Christ sent his Apostles so that the repentance and forgiveness of sin should be preached to all Nations. It is Christ Who acts in the Sacraments to communicate His grace. God the Father always hears the prayers of the Church.
“Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain they are retained. ” ( Jn. 20). Also to Peter He says, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16).”
Confessing to a Priest
The confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, by this Sacrament God grants pardon and peace.
All Sacraments are outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace. We’re human; we use signs to live our life every day. Examples:
- A currency is a sign of economic wealth, but we take it as money.
- A kiss is a sign of welcome and love, but we take a kiss for love.
Similarly numerous signs and symbols we use every day.
Sacraments are conferred by priests. The priest stands for Christ, the son of God. The priest is a representative of Christ. To hear the words of forgiveness from another human is encouragement.
The priest also gives advice, in the Sacrament of Penance, to help us improve our living. We all need guidance and direction. This Sacrament has a human and divine element. We do our part by admitting our faults; the priest does his part through absolving and administering a penance. We also receive healing of hurt and anger through this sacrament. This is done by the power of the Holy Spirit who commissions the priest to carry out the mission of Jesus.
The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ Who acts in the Sacraments, through the Holy Spirit, for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to Jesus was committed to the Apostles and their successors who act in His name.
God and the whole company of heaven rejoice at the return of one of God’s children who was lost.
(Written by Fr Joseph Connick OFM Conv)
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The questions all of you asked already are deep and interesting, come back tomorrow for a very different and stimulating question.