February 13th

This is the time of year that our second-graders have made or will soon be making their first confessions.  The Sacrament of Confession, or Reconciliation, is a great opportunity to experience the mercy of God.

Christians who are outside the Catholic Church will sometimes say that they do not need to confess their sins to a priest; they say that they go directly to God.  This idea is based on a misunderstanding of the Sacrament.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is not a matter of confessing one’s sins to a priest instead of confessing to God: in the Sacrament we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness from God through the priest.  It is not a matter of having to confess my sins to a priest; it is a privilege that I get to encounter Christ’s mercy in a way that I can perceive with my senses.

It is not the priest that forgives the sin; it is Christ Who acts through the priest to forgive sin.  When the priest gives us absolution, he does not say: “Jesus absolves you,” he says: “I absolve you”; yet we know that God alone can forgive sins.  When the priest pronounces the words of absolution we are actually hearing Christ speak through the priest.  Christ acts through the Sacraments; in the Sacraments we encounter Christ, Himself.

When the priest was ordained, he was configured to Christ in a particular way.  Priests are consecrated to act in the very person of Christ our High Priest.  Ordained priests share in the ministerial Priesthood of Christ.  Jesus bestowed His divine authority to forgive sins upon the Apostles (cf. John 20:21-23) and the Apostles handed that sacred power on to their successors, the bishops, and the bishops bestow this power unto the priests at their ordination.

God knows very well how we are made . . . He, Himself, created us.  We are composed of both body and soul.  Our Lord gave us the Sacraments as outward signs that we can experience with our bodily senses; yet they are signs that communicate grace (divine life) to our souls.

When we hear the priest pronounce the words of absolution, we have assurance that God has forgiven us our sins.  What a blessing it is to hear with our own ears that our sins have, in fact, been forgiven!

God bless,

Father White

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