Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?


Q: Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest? Doesn’t God forgive Christians when they ask?

A: There are a number of very good reason why Catholics confess their sins to a priest. As to whether or not God is willing to forgive Christians … just for asking: It’s not quite that simple!

1) Grave or serious sins (or as St. John would call them, “sins unto death”) are always best confessed with the help of a priest, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, since outside that great sacrament, less than perfect contrition for such sins typically results in NO forgiveness from God, leaving the sinner subject to the possibility of eternal damnation.

Similarly, anything short of authentic and full repentance (complete turning away from the sin) would, under the same circumstances, also typically leave a soul in a state of eternal jeopardy.

2) Outside the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there is no specific “mechanism” available for restoring the divine grace that was lost through sinful acts. Abundant grace is absolutely critical for ultimate success, in the Christian life.

3) The priest, through the great Sacrament of Reconciliation, is empowered by Jesus and the Catholic Church, to provide absolute and unconditional forgiveness for all our sins, and to replenish the grace that had been lost, as well.

Within the Sacrament of Reconciliation, neither perfect contrition or anything more than a firm purpose and real possibility of amendment is required, in order to obtain God’s complete forgiveness, and restore lost grace. This is a great blessing, a huge advantage, and a tremendous spiritual gift that is simply not otherwise available.

4) Confessing all our sins to a priest, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, allows us to proactively avoid divine judgment and the corresponding eternal penalties. Once properly pardoned and absolved, we can be certain that God will never raise that particular “issue” with us, again!

5) Sacramental Confession is probably the greatest “bargain” of all time … since expert counseling (in absolute confidence) plus total reconciliation with God, remains absolutely free!

Faithful Catholics who take Jesus at his Word and accept the divine authority the Catholic Church in this matter … instead of attempting to presumptively define the mysterious tenets of divine justice … not only get to enjoy supernatural peace of mind in this world, but need have few concerns about their glorious and eternal future, in the next.

We have Jesus’ word on that:

John 20:21-23  He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Finally … and this applies to Catholics and non-Catholics alike … when we ask God to forgive our sins … OUTSIDE of the Sacrament of Reconciliation … it is typically necessary for us to wait until Judgment Day to find out if God has actually accepted our plea.

Who (in their right mind) would want to expose themselves to the risk of Hell … let alone the prospect of having our particular “case” publicly adjudicated … in front of God … all the angels and saints … and everybody else, who ever lived?

Study the Biblical Basis of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

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1 Comment

  1. Yep. We confess to get forgiven.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 1446 that, “Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.””

    According to Pope John Paul II the Catechism of the Catholic Church “is given as a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine.”


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