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Candice wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a junior in high school and next year I will be confirmed into the Catholic church. I have only been to Confession once because I do not believe that there should be a middle man when I confess my sins to God. If I am truly sorry, then God will forgive me even if I don't tell a priest. The other day I heard that I have to go to Confession before being confirmed.

  • Is it okay to go to Confession to just get confirmed even if I don't agree with the sacrament?
  • Is there another reason for Confession that I don't know of?

Candice

  { Is it OK to go to Confession just to get confirmed even if I don't agree with the sacrament plus? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Candice —

I think we've addressed this question before. Do a search in our Knowledge Base for "confession" or "sacrament confession".

Scripture says:

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective".

(James 5:16)

So heal (=forgiveness) of our sins comes from confessing to other people. The same chapter says the priests (=elders) have the power to forgive sins (verse 14). This is also what John 20:22 says: the Apostles were given the power to forgive and hold unforgiven sins. To distinguish between the two, the sins must be verbally confessed. See also Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5.

Sin affects the whole community (1 Corinthians 12:26). In the Old Testament, sometimes if one person committed a sin, the whole community was punished. Thus sin is not a matter just between you and God; it affects the whole community, so you must be reconciled with the whole community. If you read Scripture carefully, our relationship with God as a whole is not just a
"me and Jesus" relationship; we are part of a community called the Communion of Saints
(which we profess in the Creed).

Confession to a priest cultivates humility and helps us to face our sins honestly. It helps us to know our sins are forgiven and gives us the grace to avoid them in the future.

That being said, strictly speaking, while Confession is powerfully helpful for all sins. we are only strictly obligated to confess mortal sins — these are sins that sever our relationship with God and deprive us of salvation because we knowingly and deliberately, with full consent, committed a grave offense against God.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • Why do you believe what you do?
  • Are you winging it or making this up?
  • Are you absorbing it from the culture, or is it rooted in divine revelation?
  • Is it just a personal opinion that "makes sense" to you or did God reveal it?

We need to cling what God has revealed, not to what we think in our own opinion is right.
In general, our beliefs as Christians come from divine revelation. This means Scripture and Tradition as handed down from the Apostles through the Catholic Church. If you are unwilling to accept these beliefs, you should not be confirmed. Nor really should you receive Holy Communion, because receiving Holy Communion means that you accept everything the Catholic Church teaches, especially those things she identifies as divinely revealed by God (including this one).

These teachings come from the first-century Apostles, who received them from Christ.

  • If your beliefs are not rooted in Christ, who are they rooted in?
  • If they are rooted in Christ but you do not accept the Catholic Church's testimony to them, which if you research it has been constant and steady (with some deepening) for 2,000 years, whose testimony do you accept?
  • Someone from the 16th century?
  • Someone from the 19th century?
  • 21st century culture?
  • Some spirit who whispers in your ear?
  • Your own whims?

Think, my friend: Whom do you believe? Whom can you trust?

If you think, as Protestants think, that we can just confess our sins to God, note that Scripture doesn't actually say this. It is true that Scripture says "Confess your sins" in many contexts without specifying how, but this doesn't prove that it is to God alone, all it means is that we don't know for sure, based on these verses, that it is to a priest.

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20:19-23)

The other verses I've given you do demonstrate that Confession, at least of serious sins, should involve a priest.

Eric

Eric followed-up:

By the way my comments aren't intended to turn you away from the Catholic Church, but to invite you to think about why you believe about what you believe, and to alert you to the fact that the Catholic Church is a community of those who believe in certain common things. Fundamental to that is the idea that we believe what God revealed to the Apostles in the first century and handed down constantly for 2,000 years. I urge you to contemplate this. Study what the early Christians believed; think about the reasonableness of this position, and compare it with competing ideas, namely that what we believe should come from our culture, from our own opinions, or from our own reading of Scripture alone.

  • Which is the most reasonable position?
  • Which truth is most likely to be true, and why?

Jesus promised the Spirit of Truth to his Church (John 14:17-18). He will reveal all truth to the Church and call to mind everything Christ taught (John 16:13-15). Of course, Christ was God, so this truth is absolutely; the Truth which we must accept and follow. This truth will remain with the Church forever (Isaiah 59:21). This is why we follow the Catholic Church,

  • not our own reading of Scripture divorced from the context of history
  • not our own opinions
  • not our culture.

You are invited to accept this truth as well.

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi, Eric —

I just wanted to say that was an excellent answer and excellent follow-up.

OR as Rush would say: Kudos to Eric!

Mike

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