How can a priest turn you into a good person?

Tonight I’ve been thinking about works vs faith very seriously. I was considering two people with imperfect contrition, one which makes its to confession and the other that doesn’t. How can a priest turn one into a good person and the other, because he didn’t get to the priest in time, remain an evil person. It almost sounds like Martin Luther was right about the Church and works… :frowning: comments pleaese

Please clarify. Is your question about the power of the priest to dispense grace, or about God entrusting our salvation to human mediators, or about God withholding grace from some, or what? What does it have to do with Luther and works?

“Makes it” - you mean one had an alarm clock that didn’t go off, slept in and missed the bus to Church?

How about a real-world 3D example instead of this 2D thought experiment that is too superficial to be meaningful.

I would comment if this post was clear or made sense, even. :confused:

The Priest isn’t “making” anyone good. He is pronouncing the remission of sins.

If the person is repentant for their sins and so decided to go to confession and got run over by a bus, the repentance of heart has already happened and God has the sovereignty to deal with them accordingly.

In the same way, a criminal who is intent on continuing their crimes yet goes to confession about past crimes. A lack of repentance would negatively affect the person who confessed.

A priest guides you…only you can make you a good person!

The priest has power to absolve sin. This has definite, spiritual consequences.

Methinks if we understood “spirituality” as something definite and consequential, rather than as a catchall term for everything subjective and emotional in our life, questions such as the OP’s could be more usefully answered.


Whether someone is a good person or not shouldn’t depend on whether a priest wanted to absolve him or not. The priest according to Trent can literally make one guy a good person and leave another guy an evil one. Not to mention Trent also said that one cannot go through life without committing sin, which denies free will. Is it possible that old Luther was right about the Catholic Church wanting people dependent on her so that she “stays in business” so to speak :confused:

The priest doesn’t do anything himself. It’s Jesus working through the priest, with the cooperation of the penitent.

no, the priest decides whether he will use his power to make the person a good person or leave him to be evil

What do you mean by “good person”?


Someone who is not evil

The person who goes to confession, but does not have any contrition or sorrow for their sins, and doesn’t want to have contrition, ( and lies about that in the confessional) will retain their sins, even if the priest absolves him.
But the person who did not make it to confession-if they have contrition and sorrow, and wanted to go to confession, God will handle that in the way he sees fit. The priest does not make someone good or evil. Out of confession, because of human nature, any person will still have the tendency towards sin, because of Adam and Eve’s original sin. However, confession opens our hearts and souls to receive God’s Grace more fully, which helps us avoid the occasions of sin as best our nature will allow.

I think you are not in line with what the Church teaches. If a person only has imperfect contrition, it is up to the priest whether he wants to make him holy or keep him evil. This sounds arbitrary

Please be more precise in your language: The priest decides whether or not to dispense, not use, Jesus’ power, not the priest’s power.

As to the purport of your sentence: please be easy. A priest is intended to make that decision with the heart of Jesus, not with his own. Absolution is not given or withheld on the whim of a mortal man. I’m sure there are abuses, we’re fallen creatures, but they would be exceptions, not the stated rule or the implicit teaching of the Church. And ordination makes a real difference in a man. Last summer we had a “student brother” at our church who returned this year as a newly ordained priest. I heard him say Mass for the first time today. Have you ever seen that change? There was a much bigger difference than 10 months could account for. Suddenly the “dignity” of the priesthood really came home to me!

As for Luther, he was a troubled man, and he was not right about faith/works. He reduced them to opposing concepts, which of course they are not; faith/works may be easier to understand as an either/or proposition, but since that proposition is inherently faulty, any understanding gained is also faulty.

In other words – no, the Church doesn’t promote works in order to stay in business. If she does, she’s a terrible businesswoman! Churches which promote sola fide tend to be much more attractive than the true Church. Think about it: faith-alone means you don’t actually have to do anything. You say a prayer, or think a prayer, or believe you felt some kind of movement somewhere inside yourself, and presto! You’re saved. You never have to do anything at all! It’s like the ultimate diet pill: pop a pill a day and lose 30 pounds in a month!

God expects us to walk the talk. Anyone can say they have faith. The fruit - the works - is how we show God our gratitude and love. Faith without works is dead.

I’ve prayed you’ll allow your mind to be at peace and find rest.

The priest can’t reform your character and make you magically you unable to sin in the future, if that’s what you mean.

A priest decides whether to absolve someone with imperfect contrition, so can reform a persons interior goodness with his decision. Or he can allow him to remain evil. Abuses are enough to make this arbitrary

thanks for the prayers :thumbsup:

Biblically the Priest (acting in persona Christi) has the option to forgive or retain. That much is plain in sola the scriptura. The only way around that is to limit that verse to the Apostles only (no succession), with the power to forgive or retain dying with them.

As for abuses, I have never been denied absolution. Anecdotal, yes? Have you been denied absolution?

In any event, the answer to your question is that God instituted the sacraments but is not bound by them. That cures abuses and also answers your question about the imperfectly contrite person who doesn’t make it to sacramental reconciliation.

Since you mentioned faith v. works, wouldn’t broadening the definition of “works,” beyond “works of the [Mosaic] law,” make the decision to accept Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior in a protestant context a work? How about saying the sinner’s prayer out loud? A work?

I much prefer the sacramental system to OSAS. There is more assurance of salvation there, at least immediately following baptism, and, later, absolution. The protestant must always wonder whether his salvation actually occurred, since the explanation for fallen away protestants who performed the protestant “work” of accepting Christ and saying the sinner’s prayer is that the person was never saved in the first place. Baptism and reconciliation assure a state of grace, at least for a time. If I should sin mortally afterwards and die while imperfectly contrite before making it to confession, I must rely on God – the Father of the Prodigal Son, who is not a heartless bureaucrat, who loves me beyond measure, and who is free to operate outside of the sacramental system – to handle my fate in the appropriate manner.

Ok, I think I get it. Thanks

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