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July 2016

QUESTION TIME

Why do I need to go to a Priest for Confession? Why not tell God my sins directly?

It is true that God alone can forgive sins and we can and should say sorry to God in prayer for our sins regularly. We always begin Holy Mass by saying sorry to God. But after the resurrection, Jesus gave the Church His power to forgive sins through the apostolic ministry. Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:23) In this way Christ ensured that His mercy and forgiveness would be available to everyone in the future. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)

This Sacrament is known by different names according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church – The Sacrament of Confession, Conversion, Penance, Forgiveness or Reconciliation. These names reflect different important elements of the Sacrament. The Priest acts as a visible representation of God. He is only a medium through which we seek forgiveness. Confessing before a Priest also teaches us to be humble, we hear that our sins are forgiven and it gives us an opportunity to obtain advice on avoiding sin. The Priest also represents the Church, the people of God who we have hurt by our sins and through the Priest we are reconciled with the Church.

The whole power of the Sacrament consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with Him in an intimate friendship (CCC 1468). Its aim however, will only be fulfilled if it involves true repentance. ‘Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).

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