(See  The Precepts of the Church for more details.) Confession is a gift, a means of grace, a way to God, and a way back to God. While Catholics are only required to go to Confession when they are aware that they have committed a mortal sin, the Church urges the faithful to take advantage of the sacrament often. The sacrament, by its very nature, confers graces that help us to live a Christian life, which is why the Church requires us to receive it at least once per year. This is especially the case when it comes to committing mortal sins, which cuts our relationship with God. The purpose of Confession is to reconcile man to God. Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily: While these are the minimum requirements, here are steps to making a better confession. While the number of people practicing Confession has diminished significantly over the last few decades, it’s important to remember how vital it is in bringing vitality to the spiritual life. It firstly needs to be pointed out that Catholics can go straight to God and ask for forgiveness. (The Church … That is why the Sacrament of Confession is sometimes called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why not go past the middle man and straight to God? Why Do Catholics Practice Confession of Sins to a Priest? The Church especially urges the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Confession frequently during Lent, to help them in their spiritual preparation for Easter. I don't want to live this way, God, and only you can help me!" 14 Answers. Richert, Scott P. "The Sacrament of Confession." Ways To Strengthen Your Marriage. We are once more made one with God. Ian Ker Fr. A good rule of thumb is to go once per month. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Learn Religions. Confession is less frequently called the Sacrament of Conversion and the Sacrament of Forgiveness. If a non-Catholic is in situation of death, they can receive the Sacrament – if they are a baptized Christian. Correspondence To This Website Can Be Sent … Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. He quoted 1 Tm 2:5 from the Bible to explain that Christ is the one true mediator between God and man. Catholics go to confession to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness, normally receiving penance from the priest. My parents raised me as a Catholic. Why do Catholics go to confession? 1 decade ago. It’s not an easy question to answer in a few sentences as it draws upon complex topics about Church history, the meaning of sin, the power of the Sacraments, and the role of priests. They surely won’t be astonished by what we confess. Don’t we all desire to escape humbling experiences? () By the mid-400s and the pontificate of Leo I, private confession under the seal of secrecy becomes the norm to safeguard the reputation of the penitent and to attract others to the sacrament. What does it mean? The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Sacrament of Confession as the Sacrament of Penance. We may be hesitant to tell our sins to someone we also socialize with at church suppers. Relevance. Some claim that confessing to a priest is not biblical. In this case, the outward sign is the absolution, or forgiveness of sins, that the priest grants to the penitent (the person confessing his sins); the inward grace is the reconciliation of the penitent to God. I was told to be confirmed and I was told to go through it all. By using Learn Religions, you accept our, Other Names for the Sacrament of Confession. Lv 7. Why do Catholics go to confession? This is a sacrament given to us by Christ and is a healthy spiritual practice for believers. In reconciling us to God, it is a great source of grace, and Catholics are encouraged to take advantage of it often. But it is also the subject of many common misunderstandings, both among non-Catholics and among Catholics themselves. The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. St. Mary's Catholic School 302 East 5th Street P.O. This experience of confession of sins to a priest to receive the sign of God’s healing forgiveness is called by the Church the Sacrament of Penance or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Answer Save. Mortal Sin, Venial Sin, Confession, and Communion, The Sacrament of Baptism in the Catholic Church, Sacrament of Conversion and the Sacrament of Forgiveness, M.A., Political Theory, Catholic University of America, B.A., Political Theory, Michigan State University. Church Teaching On Divorce & Remarriage In fact, most priests are overjoyed that people are coming to confession, and they are eager to offer absolution. Why Do Catholics Go To Confession? The Sacrament of Confession. The sacrament of reconciliation was instituted to enable the forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism, so for those already located within the Body of Christ, and to make it possible for them to receive Holy Communion worthily. Common Questions About Going To Confession. Confession was essential to Catholic faith and a badge of Catholic identity. No Sacraments take place over the internet, and confession isn't an exception. The benefits of confessing to a priest rather than just practicing private Confession are also aplenty: it’s what the Bible and Church tradition teaches; Catholics receive sacramental graces which they wouldn’t receive in a private capacity; the priest can guide the confessor; and finally, Catholics are assured their sins are forgiven. Need Help With Your Marriage? But the question misses the point of the Sacrament of Confession. In John 20, we read of Christ appearing to the disciples on Easter Sunday. It says in the Bible that the only way to the Father is through the Son (Jesus Christ). It's embarrassing! When we find it hard to go to confession, we do well to ask the Lord for the grace we need to approach this sacrament. St. Mary of the Seven Dolors 208 East 5th Street P.O. So why do Catholics confess to a priest? The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, Everything You Need to Know About Easter in the Catholic Church, The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, Learn About Last Rites and How They're Performed. Then, in the Sacrament of Confession, grace can be restored to our souls, and we can once again resist sin. Why Do I Have To Confess To A Priest? No, your willingness to go to the confessional, repeating the same confession week-to-week is a way of saying to God, "I hate doing this! Catholics believe that all of the sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ himself. Why do I have to go to a priest for confession instead of going straight to God? Yet in most parishes, the lines for the confessionals While Catholics are only required to go to Confession when they are aware that they have committed a mortal sin, the Church urges the faithful to take advantage of the sacrament often. Subscribe Lesser sins were considered to be forgiven through prayer, fasting, works of mercy, and participation in … Many people have only ever gone to Confession once or twice in their lives, and while it can seem like a scary prospect to confess all of your guilt and failings to someone else, Catholics can be assured by the fact that everyone is in the same boat and God is calling all of us to relationship with Him. While Catholics are only required to go to Confession when they are aware that they have committed a mortal sin, the Church urges the faithful to take advantage of the sacrament often. This sacrament reconciles us first with God: “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with Him in an intimate friendship” ( Catechism , #1468). The Lord does want us to come to him when we fall into sin. Print . In a special way, we might appeal to Mary, the Mother of Mercy, to lead us to her Son, to encourage us, as she did at Cana, to do whatever he tells us (cf. [32] Such confessions take place in worthiness interviews prior to baptism into the church , [33] to being set apart for any church … Therefore, we go to confession because it is a sacrament given to us by Christ, and it has always been a practice of the Church. Why the need for a priest? Non-Catholics, and even many Catholics, often ask whether they can confess their sins directly to God and whether God can forgive them without going through a priest. 9. "During Lent, many parishes make a special effort to encourage Catholics to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance, also known as Reconciliation or, more popularly, Confession. On the most basic level, of course, the answer is yes, and Catholics should make frequent acts of contrition, which are prayers in which we tell God that we are sorry for our sins and ask for His forgiveness. A Protestant Christian friend of mine wanted to know why Catholics confess sins to a priest rather than straight to God. [ Placeholder content for popup link ] How To Go To Confession. Second, by confessing to a priest, the Catholic learns a lesson in humility which is conveniently avoided when one confesses only through private prayer. Pastor: Father Timothy Forget Phone: 402.329.4200. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”. Therefore, we go to confession because it is a sacrament given to us by Christ, and it has always been a practice of the Church. The Sacrament of Confession can seem not only a daunting practice for many Catholics but also a bizarre one – privately asking for forgiveness from God for your sins makes sense, but confessing them to a priest seems weird. Confession is a Sacrament Which Gives Us Grace The Catholic Church teaches that a sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. Does the Catholic Church Still Believe in Purgatory? If you know Part I, you can skip to Part II. Jesus intended this power to be exercised not only by the Apostles, but also by their successors for the good of sinners. He is the author of several books, including Mere Catholicism. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). A good rule of thumb is to go once Do you agree? Although it has developed over time, the Sacrament of Confession isn’t some crazy invention of the Church, but finds its roots in the Bible. In John 20:21-23, Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. The newspaper, published weekly, provides a lively mix of news, analysis and informed commentary about the Church and social issues as they affect Ireland and the wider-world. Ian Ker is the leading expert on the life and works of John Henry Newman. Why do I need to go through a ‘middle man’?” This may come as a surprise to some, but the Church teaches that when you go to Confession, you are speaking directly to Jesus. It also carried with it the promise of personal renewal. Unsubscribe. Whereas Confession stresses the action of the believer in the sacrament, Reconciliation stresses the action of God, who uses the sacrament to reconcile us to Himself by restoring sanctifying grace in our souls. Scott P. Richert is senior content network manager of Our Sunday Visitor. For one thing, that’s how the Lord designed the sacrament. He has written about Catholicism for outlets including Humanitas and Catholic Answers Magazine. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. This sacrament originated early in the church’s life, when it became clear that those who had been baptized were not immune to sin. Speak Directly to God . The benefits of confessing to a priest rather than just practicing private Confession are also aplenty: it’s what the Bible and Church tradition teaches; Catholics receive sacramental graces which they wouldn’t receive in a private capacity; the priest can guide the confessor; and finally, Catholics are assured their sins are forgiven. Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance.” (CCC 1455-1456). Catholics also believe that the sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. (The Church strongly recommends that, in preparation for fulfilling our Easter Duty to receive Communion, we go to Confession even if we are aware of venial sin only.). Form action Please explain what happens when you go into the confessional. Jn 2:5). The Irish Catholic is Ireland’s biggest and best-selling religious newspaper. Why Catholics Go To Confession. Thank you. Moreover, it was instituted by Christ as the proper form for the forgiveness of our sins. By Fr. And non-Catholics sometimes ask to go to Confession. October 22, 2019. The most famous passage to highlight the practice is John 20:21-22: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. Benefits of doing this the Catholic way First, the Catholic is seeking forgiveness the way Christ intended it to be sought. It is recommended, though not required, to confess venial sins; this is often the reason why Catholics will go to confession on a weekly or monthly basis. As the Father has sent me, so I send you’. Confession is one of the least understood of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. If someone is not Catholic (thus they do not have recourse to the Sacrament), then they can be forgiven, with perfect contrition and confession of their sins to God. tebone0315. Richert, Scott P. "The Sacrament of Confession." I believe that my forgiveness is determined by God, not by the church. Still, confession was not just something done in silence to God alone, but something done “in church,” as the Didache (A.D. 70) indicates. ST. MARY OF THE SEVEN DOLORS. Catholics: Why do you go to confession? Photo Credit: Josh Applegate. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/the-sacrament-of-confession-542139. My entire family is Catholic. Penances also tended to be performed before rather than after absolution, and they were much stricter than those of today (ten years’ penance for abortion, for example, was common in the early Church). What should I do if I find it hard to go to confession? 2:5). Therefore, we should not only be willing to receive the sacrament but should embrace it as a gift from a loving God. Keep in mind many priests have heard thousands of confessions over the years. A headline in the Catholic-sponsored Our Sunday Visitor answers, “If you can’t go to confession… He breathed on the … So what should Roman Catholics do with their unconfessed sin? This is why Pope John 
Paull II said in 2002, 
“…the Church has insistently reiterated that ‘all the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their mortal sins at least once a year’”. Why Catholics Go to Confession. Richert, Scott P. (2020, August 25). However, the early Church fathers are clear that through the Sacrament of Confession – sometimes called Penance or Reconciliation – our fractured relationship with God is able to be restored. Read more: What is sin? After all, the Bible says that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. Virtual connection is not a substitute for physical proximity. As it is, few go to Confession, but few do not receive Holy Communion at Mass. January 11, 2017 K. Albert Little Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Favourite answer . Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Still, God has a plan of a supernatural beatitude planned for that baby in heaven in both body and soul. He wants to bring us forgiveness so much that he gave the apostles the power to forgive sins. Why Do We As Catholics Go To Confession? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that "confession is a necessary requirement for complete forgiveness." Comment below. And when he has said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. But my biggest question is about confession. As baptised Christians, we have direct access to God through prayer, and have the ability to repent for any of our wrongdoings – especially venial sins. So why do the catholics think they should go through a priest? Help With Questions On Parenting. Why not? And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. I just don't agree with telling your sins to a priest. Here they reflect on how well they live a “Christ-like life”. WordPress Download Manager - Best Download Management Plugin, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Magnificat - Delivery to Ireland and Northern Ireland Only, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Digital Edition, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Delivery Abroad, The Irish Catholic Newspaper - Delivery to Ireland, US bishops welcome Biden’s repeal of travel ban, Senator Mullen calls for ‘National Voluntary Collection’ as part of mother and baby home redress, Govt ‘see reason’ over ‘sneaky tax on prayer’, WordPress Download Manager - Best Download Management Plugin. However, there is no specific requirement that confession take place within a certain distance of a … Do Catholics not believe this? The fact of the matter is, I never had the choice to become Catholic. I am protestant, I believe that I can ask God myself for forgiveness. Part I: Why Do We Need Confession and What Is Mortal Sin? General Absolution helps with those who might be receiving while in a … In the case of Confession, that institution occurred on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. For Your Marriage. Penance expresses the proper attitude with which we should approach the sacrament—with sorrow for our sins, a desire to atone for them, and a firm resolve not to commit them again. Box 397 Osmond, NE 68765. A good rule of thumb is to go once per month. The Church has long taught that the confession of sins and absolution should happen in one place. https://www.learnreligions.com/the-sacrament-of-confession-542139 (accessed January 22, 2021). Because it is God’s plan for people to face their sins, acknowledge the wrong they have done, and seek forgiveness from a priest, who represents God and has authority from Christ. 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