Are your sins forgiven?


#1

I was at a meeting at church last night and the leader said that you can ask God directly for the forgiveness of your sins, and they are forgiven. I challenged him about this, no one else said a word and let him say he was right. The type of sin was not part a of this discussion. I feel he was wrong and misled the group. What is the truth?


#2

God can forgive our sins based on our prayer for forgiveness. However it is always best to go to confession. If you are in a situation, say hopelessly lost in the woods, and you see that you are about to die, you can seek God’s forgiveness, express your sorrow over you sins and pray an act of contrition. God will forgive you.

But if you can go to confession you really should. I really think that confession is needed in most circumstances, but it does not mean God can’t or will not forgive us without going.


#3

We must never presume on God’s grace by circumventing this Sacrament.


#4

The mercy of God is infinite. Therefore, there are no limits on how or when He forgives. In that sense, the speaker might be correct, but at the same time incomplete. I say “might be” because the forgiveness depends on the sincerity of the person and the severity of the sin.

God has given us the sacrament of Confession as the method of forgiveness & absolution. Therefore a person who intentionally avoids or disregards confession is not completely open to God’s mercy.

We must keep in mind that while God can (and we must say does) forgive even the most serious sins without confession that is not the same thing as saying that confession is not necessary, or even to say that asking forgiveness outside the sacrament is a substitute for the sacrament.

What makes teaching like this problematic is not that the statement itself is false, but that is it incomplete, and it can lead to misunderstanding.


#5

Yes of course you can. But you must later do reparation for your sins.
Like that Salvadorean sailor adrift for over a year. Every day he prayed
to the Lord for Forgiveness. His faith and temptations were as great as any of the OT
prophets. Each day the devil tempted him to end it all.
But God saw his Faith and brought him safely home.
How do you think Muslims, Jews, and others repent of their sins?
It is only human nature to feel sorry/ashamed of past selfish deeds. Do
you think God will not forgive them because they cant find a Confessional box?
How did people in the OT obtained forgiveness?


#6

In the case of mortal sins:
If Catholic, and the sacrament of penance is available, then this must be used.
If Catholic, and the sacrament of penance is not available, then an act of perfect love and sorrow must be prayed along with the intention of confessing the mortal sins in the next confession.
If Catholic, and in a coma, or unconscientious, then when the priest administers the annointing of the sick, this will remove serious sins if the person had the right dispositions before going into a coma, namely, being sorry.

If non-Catholic, we don’t really know one way or the other. This is in the hands of God. I would GUESS that this would vary depending on what is going on in the mind and heart of each individual.

If non-Catholic and yet wishing to be Catholic and attending info classes on the faith, if they are sorry because they love God, then yes their sins are forgiven but they still must wait for reception into the church before receiving the sacraments.

As for venial sins, they do not stop one from entering heaven of themselves and are not absolutely necessary to be confessed or to be sorry. (Although in the normal life of any christian, venial sins should be confessed to become more pleased to God and to continue to grow in holiness or to become more to the likeness of Christ each day.)


#7

Fr David I have seen a few of your posts from the past discussing the difference between the nature of God’s forgiveness and the granting of absolution in the confessional. Can you elaborate on that? This seems to be a point of confusion for many Catholics.


#8

Try this thread (even though it’s closed)
forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=6048031&postcount=2
I don’t want to derail this one.


#9

This is not Catholic teaching, we are taught to avail of the Sacrament of Penance. For something very menial we can ask God to forgive us, but just to make sure Confession is best, the reason maybe why the other people said nothing is they don’t know there Catholic faith properly plus they might not like going to Confession, it is an act of humility, but on coming out of Confession its like coming out of the washing machine, you feel clean.

Good for you to point this out, if you see this guy again, you would want to tell him that its not Church teaching just to ask God to forgive you and that is that, not unless he is a Protestant .


#10

I love that feeling!


#11

Certainly venial sins can be.

Can *mortal sins *be forgiven from one praying? Yes. But one still needs to confess them (and before Holy Communion). Are the necessarily forgiven? No. See below.

Catechism:

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#VII

As to venial sins -they can be forgiven in prayer and many other ways…perfect contrition, imperfect contrition, acts of love, at Holy Communion, the reading of Scripture etc etc etc. I is still good to confess at least some though regularly …

More from the CCC

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful


#12

I believe it depends on how sure you want to be of the truth of God’s forgiveness:

God can do whatever He wants, so of course God can forgive our sins in whatever manner He so chooses so of course God would and probably does very often accept the direct confessions of many people who confess directly to Him! Praise be to God!

The point is…do you want to KNOW for sure 100% that your sins are forgiven or would you rather be left guessing? I can confess directly to God and feel wonderful but would be left wondering a bit, when I leave the confessional I KNOW I am free from sin!


#13

I agree with the above about God’s infinite mercy, but the only problem is that he says they ARE forgiven, not that they can be forgiven. If this were the case, we would not have confession. Just saying. If you confessed validly and the priest gives you absolution, then it’s safe to say they are forgiven, but I have always been taught that just praying is not, in fact, enough. It is comforting to know that if we were in a circumstance where we wanted to go to confession, but couldn’t, God will look into our hearts and judge fairly based on our intent, but it’s not correct to think you can willfully skive off confession and still receive a promise of forgiveness.


#14

Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter IX: *Against the vain confidence of heretics.*But, although it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted, nor ever were remitted save gratuitously by the mercy of God for Christ’s sake; yet is it not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church. But neither is this to be asserted—that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubting whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified, but he that believes for certain that he is absolved and justified; and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone: as though whoso has not this belief, doubts of the promises of God, and of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ. For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which can not be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.
catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5392


#15

Seems like a failure to recognize that forgiveness is more than an exclusively personal matter. It seems like an excessively individualistic outlook.

CHAPTER TWO
THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING

ARTICLE 4
THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION

1422 "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, **reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins **and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion."4

If we can’t recognize that we live in a community of believers (CHURCH, ECCLESIA), and recognize that our sins offend God and harm others, how can we be said to accept reconciliation? We are preoccupied with saving our own hides rather than desiring to be truly reconciled, because we don’t accept the necessary role of the Church.

The Church - **both visible and spiritual **

771 "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, **the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization **through which he communicates truth and grace to all men."184 The Church is at the same time:

  • a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;
  • the visible society and the spiritual community;
  • the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches."185

These dimensions together constitute “one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element”:186

So while God is the source of forgiveness and is always ready to forgive, we bear a responsibility to the Church which IS Christ’s mystical body, and which he gives us for the graces of forgiveness and absolution.


#16

Yikes, now I have to run to my catechism, is it official church teaching that I cannot have confidence in being absolved in confession? Or is this simply the council cautioning us in being vain? If it is the former, that is indeed sad and unfortunate news to this uneducated person…give me a minute to compose myself but I am going to check, I am hoping and believe that this is incorrect as long as I have made a GOOD confession seeking God’s mercy with a contrite heart. If my confession was not a complete confession made in vain and I doubt the mercy and the power of God then perhaps I am not open to the graces available to me, I wonder if that is what the Council of Trent is referring to here?

Anyway, my understanding still stands for now, if I make a good confession with a contrite heart and with every intention to not commit those sins and the priest that is acting as Christ says “I absolve you of your sins” I believe it. God bless you, thank you for letting me share my thoughts but you have made me curious and eager to read more about the Council of Trent something I didn’t plan on reading today, not a bad thing.


#17

And yes you certainly do right to believe that. One can yes have confidence one has been absolved.

There is a difference between a kind of absolute certitude and other kinds of certainty and confidence. (Such works have particular contexts and can get at times on the technical side of things…using terms in particular precise senses).

One rightly can have such moral certainty that one has made a good confession and one has been absolved of ones sins.

Wonderful text to meditate on from the Catechism:

IX. THE EFFECTS OF THIS SACRAMENT

1468 "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."73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation "is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:77

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78 

1470 In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.79 In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment."80

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#VIII


#18

The council is teaching “Against the vain confidence of heretics”.

No doubt of the efficacy of the sacraments:
"For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, "
When regarding oneself:
“even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which can not be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.”


#19

And yes you certainly do right to believe that. One can yes have confidence one has been absolved.

There is a difference between a kind of absolute certitude and other kinds of certainty and confidence. (Such works have particular contexts and can get at times on the technical side of things…using terms in particular precise senses).

One rightly can have such moral certainty that one has made a good confession and one has been absolved of ones sins.

Wonderful text to meditate on from the Catechism:

IX. THE EFFECTS OF THIS SACRAMENT

1468 "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."73 Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation "is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."74 Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.75

1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.76 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:77

It must be recalled that . . . this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.78 

1470 In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin.79 In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment."80.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#VIII


#20

That paragraph from Trent refers to someone who denies the sacrament of Confession. I think you may be mis-reading it to apply to someone who does go to Confession.

No need for “Yikes.” :slight_smile: What you posted as your understanding is the teaching of the Church, including the teaching of Trent.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.