Cafeteria Catholic troubles


A friend of mine and I are in the middle of a debate, he insists that confession was invented by the irish, based off an old pre christian tradition, and they brought it to christianity after the fall of the western roman empire. When i pointed out that all sacraments were instituted by jesus, he then said that marriage wasn’t a sacrament till the high middle ages.:banghead: The conversation ended with him insisting i find proof, of early christian sacramental confession, I’ve decided to go with the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, and St.Cyprian of Carthage’s On the Lapsed.
Now i need references from the early Church Fathers that clearly explain or at least mention sacramental marriage. Thank you, I appreciate the help.


There is a basic reference to Marriage and the permission of the Bishop in one of Ignatius’s letters, the Epistle to Polycarp, chapter 5.


See if something on this page helps:


I think that the Irish monks introduced the idea of more frequent devotional confession of venial sins with counseling on improving ones spiritual life. I don’t remember the details, but it greatly expanded the benefits of the sacrament. In earlier times it was a once in a lifetime forgiveness of mortal sin. [With public confession and 7-21 year penances, you didn’t live long enough for more than one confession. ;)]


As for Confession, if the Irish invented confession then what did Jesus, had in mind when he said to the Apostles, “Whose sins are forgiven, they are forgiven, whose sins are retained, they are retained.” Confession is about forgiveness of sins, since Jesus gave the apostles (hierarchy) authority over it then I can’t see how anyone can say the Irish invented it.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1447 Over the centuries the concrete form in which the Church has exercised this power received from the Lord has varied considerably. During the first centuries the reconciliation of Christians who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery) was tied to a very rigorous discipline, according to which penitents had to do public penance for their sins, often for years, before receiving reconciliation. To this “order of penitents” (which concerned only certain grave sins), one was only rarely admitted and in certain regions only once in a lifetime. During the seventh century Irish missionaries, inspired by the Eastern monastic tradition, took to continental Europe the “private” practice of penance, which does not require public and prolonged completion of penitential works before reconciliation with the Church. From that time on, the sacrament has been performed in secret between penitent and priest. This new practice envisioned the possibility of repetition and so opened the way to a regular frequenting of this sacrament. It allowed the forgiveness of grave sins and venial sins to be integrated into one sacramental celebration. In its main lines this is the form of penance that the Church has practiced down to our day.


Thank you for all your replies, I’m writing up a reply for him right now.


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