A good article explaining the fine points of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

…in my experience, the Sacrament of Reconciliation ranks right up there with Marian Dogmas among the Church’s teachings that prompt the most questions from those inquiring about the Catholic Faith.

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Just about everything any Catholic needs to know about the great sacrament that’s still often referred to as “Confession”

Are all of our sins—past, present, and future—forgiven once and for all when we become Christians? Not according to the Bible or the early Church Fathers. Scripture nowhere states that our future sins are forgiven; instead, it teaches us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).

The means by which God forgives sins after baptism is confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Minor or venial sins can be confessed directly to God, but for grave or mortal sins, which crush the spiritual life out of the soul, God has instituted a different means for obtaining forgiveness—the sacrament known popularly as confession, penance, or reconciliation.

This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power “glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matt. 9:8; note the plural “men”). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21–23).

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Submitted by Doria2

This week’s Ask Alice: I’ve been looking into becoming Catholic. Some advice, please!



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G.Y. writes: I’ve been looking into becoming Catholic, as I keep having a dream that Jesus himself is asking me to. I agree with the Bible but I’m scared I will be rejected by the church, due to having a bad past, having sinned, and lived in sin. Could you give me some advice?

Alice answers: How blessed you are that Jesus is calling you to become a Catholic! Treasure each dream of our Precious Lord, and don’t hesitate to answer Jesus’ loving call!

Throughout the Bible, God speaks to people in dreams. Samuel was a young boy when God awakened him at night:

“…Samuel was sleeping in in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, ‘Here I am.” (1 Samuel 3:4)

There is no perfect time to change our lives. It’s never the ideal time to get married, have a baby, change careers, or move to another country. Similarly, there’s no perfect time to become a Catholic. When Jesus called his disciples, they were at work. They immediately stopped what they were doing, walked off their jobs, and left their careers, families and friends to follow Jesus.

“As they were walking along the Sea of Galilee he watched two brothers, Simon now known as peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea. They were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately abandoned their nets and became his followers.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

Don’t worry about getting rejected. Ours is a church of sinners. Adam and Eve, our first parents, committed the original sin. Moses was a murderer, yet God called him. King David was an adulterer. Jesus expelled 7 demons from Mary Magdalene. Peter denied our Lord.

The Church will not reject you, since every priest is a shepherd, divinely commissioned to bring sinners (lost sheep) back to God.

“All men have sinned and are deprived
of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:23)

Like you, everyone has fears and doubts about doing God’s will. Fear never comes from God, but from evil spirits who are busy trying to lure us away from the Lord, and His path of righteousness.

1) Pray for God’s guidance. Don’t wait or hesitate to answer God’s call.

2) Start going to Mass every week. Make an appointment to talk with a priest. Tell him you want to become Catholic. Do whatever he tells you. If he invites you to join RCIA, attend the classes. Even if you’re living “in sin” start attending classes, anyway. You don’t have to make an immediate commitment to be baptized. Jesus came to save sinners. That means you, me … and every person on earth.

3) Surrender to God. Don’t worry about how becoming a Catholic will change your life. God has the perfect solution to every problem you face. Simply surrender your heart to God, and let Him caress you with His loving care. God will give you all the grace you need to become Catholic.

Be assured that I am praying for you. Please let me know what happens on your faith journey.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

*****

Doug Lawrence adds: One of the most practical benefits of being Catholic is to be able to confess one’s sins, in and through the great Sacrament of Reconciliation, no matter how bad they might be … and receive immediate, absolute assurance of God’s forgiveness, grace, and inestimable love.

That shouldn’t be surprising, since one of the very first things Jesus did after rising again from the dead, was to give the apostles (and their duly ordained successors) the power to forgive sins … something which had, until that moment … been reserved to God, alone:

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 (John 20:21-23)

Dreaming about Jesus calling you to become Catholic is totally biblical, since it was one of the things that was prophesied in the Old Testament of the Bible, and later confirmed by Saint Peter and others, in the New Testament scriptures.

I would definitely “go” with that!

 Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Father Z with some important comments on Anointing of the Sick

The primary means for forgiveness of post-baptismal mortal sins is clearly the Sacrament of Penance.  That doesn’t mean that the Sacrament of Anointing does not forgive mortal sins.

In short, if a person incapable of confessing his mortal sins is anointed, his mortal sins are in that anointing forgiven.  However, on recovery he must make a confession of sins when possible.  In that respect it is similar to General Absolution.

I can’t say everything there is to say about this sacrament here, but I can offer some comments.

The effects of the Sacrament of Anointing or Anointing of the Sick or, sometimes, Extreme Unction, are:

  • To increase sanctifying grace in a moment of great need (danger of death)
  • To console the person
  • To strengthen against temptation
  • To heal the body
  • To forgive mortal sins when a person is incapable of confessing them or is unaware of his state of soul

Read the entire article

Related content:

“Those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant…”

A last chance for lost souls