Is total assent to the Catholic Faith necessary for a valid confession?


#1

**Must one believe and know the Catholic faith to be absolutely true in order to receive forgiveness through Confession?
**

Here are some examples:
Sally Smith is a baptized Catholic, though lately she’s been having some both voluntary and involuntary doubt of her Faith. Is it possible for her to validly confess her sins, including the her sins against Faith, feeling sorry for and wishing to discontinue her sins against Faith, while still desiring to attain certainty that her Faith is true, but not yet believing with certainty that her faith is true, and consequently not entirely believing in the validity of the sacrament of Penance itself?

Johnny Appleseed is a baptized Catholic, but is in a state of mortal sin. He wishes to have the Virtue of Faith, but as he is in a state of mortal sin, he feels uncertain of whether God will grant him the grace to receive this Gift of the Virtue of Faith. Since he does not yet have the Virtue of Faith, and lacks absolute certainty and assent to the truth of the faith, must he make a valid confession before opening himself up to God’s grace to the extent needed to receive the Virtue of Faith, or must he first accept the Virtue of Faith and then go to confession?

Thanks for any help anyone could give me with this question :slight_smile:


#2

[quote="Birdmanman, post:1, topic:302049"]
*Must one believe and know the Catholic faith to be absolutely true in order to receive forgiveness through Confession?
*

Here are some examples:
Sally Smith is a baptized Catholic, though lately she's been having some both voluntary and involuntary doubt of her Faith. Is it possible for her to validly confess her sins, including the her sins against Faith, feeling sorry for and wishing to discontinue her sins against Faith, while still desiring to attain certainty that her Faith is true, but not yet believing with certainty that her faith is true, and consequently not entirely believing in the validity of the sacrament of Penance itself?

Johnny Appleseed is a baptized Catholic, but is in a state of mortal sin. He wishes to have the Virtue of Faith, but as he is in a state of mortal sin, he feels uncertain of whether God will grant him the grace to receive this Gift of the Virtue of Faith. Since he does not yet have the Virtue of Faith, and lacks absolute certainty and assent to the truth of the faith, must he make a valid confession before opening himself up to God's grace to the extent needed to receive the Virtue of Faith, or must he first accept the Virtue of Faith and then go to confession?

Thanks for any help anyone could give me with this question :)

[/quote]

According to the Latin theology, we are given the supernatural virtues of faith, hope (makes trust possible *), and charity with baptism. The faith and hope remain, but charity may be lost with sin.

I believe all the truths the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you, my God, have revealed them, and will not deceive.

  • Matthew 19:26 "For man it is impossible; but for God all things are possible".

There is a difference between understanding and believing. There are many things which we do not understand but yet believe. We must place all our faith in God and we must accept all that God has revealed. This does not mean we must understand all that God has revealed. (And it will vary based upon our capacity and training in theology.) There is much mystery.


#3

[quote="Birdmanman, post:1, topic:302049"]
*Must one believe and know the Catholic faith to be absolutely true in order to receive forgiveness through Confession?
*

Here are some examples:
Sally Smith is a baptized Catholic, though lately she's been having some both voluntary and involuntary doubt of her Faith. Is it possible for her to validly confess her sins, including the her sins against Faith, feeling sorry for and wishing to discontinue her sins against Faith, while still desiring to attain certainty that her Faith is true, but not yet believing with certainty that her faith is true, and consequently not entirely believing in the validity of the sacrament of Penance itself?

Johnny Appleseed is a baptized Catholic, but is in a state of mortal sin. He wishes to have the Virtue of Faith, but as he is in a state of mortal sin, he feels uncertain of whether God will grant him the grace to receive this Gift of the Virtue of Faith. Since he does not yet have the Virtue of Faith, and lacks absolute certainty and assent to the truth of the faith, must he make a valid confession before opening himself up to God's grace to the extent needed to receive the Virtue of Faith, or must he first accept the Virtue of Faith and then go to confession?

Thanks for any help anyone could give me with this question :)

[/quote]

OK, why don't we all go back to the Bible that will go well with our sola scriptura friends.

What did Jesus do to a well know Christian killer and persecuter called Saul?
Do you think he was in not in mortal sin when he was commiting those actions?
Is that proof enough for you that GOD can work even with the most wicked of us so long as we say YES to his calling?


#4

Hi Vico, thanks for responding!

But the theological virtue of Faith that we receive, although Baptism leaves an indelible 'mark' on our soul, is something that can be accepted or rejected out of free will. In the situations mentioned, the first example (Sally) is describing someone who themselves only thinks there is a possibility that confession is effective for the removal of sins, and is acting out of that possibility, not out of certainty or real belief that the sacrament of Penance actually does forgive sins.

There is certainly a difference between understanding and believing. In these cases, both the belief and the understanding are lacking.

[quote="JerryZ, post:3, topic:302049"]
OK, why don't we all go back to the Bible that will go well with our sola scriptura friends.

What did Jesus do to a well know Christian killer and persecuter called Saul?
Do you think he was in not in mortal sin when he was commiting those actions?
Is that proof enough for you that GOD can work even with the most wicked of us so long as we say YES to his calling?

[/quote]

Hi JerryZ, thanks for posting on this thread!

Just in case I was misleading at all, I am Catholic, and not a believer in "Sola Scriptura".

I would think Saul was in a state of mortal sin, but before his conversion and baptism, his sins, particularly his original sin, would not have yet been forgiven. His assent to the Christian Faith, even though he had the assistance of evidence from a supernatural vision, was something he could have accepted or rejected, as his free will was involved.

In the scenarios I gave in my original post, I was speaking about people who have responded, not with a direct "YES" to the Catholic Faith, but with a now dulled "maybe" or "well I wish I could" or a "Yes, but not certainly". Since they do not fully and certainly believe in the effectiveness of the sacrament of Penance (or the Divinity of Christ), but only marginally have an idea that it might benefit them if Catholicism is true, or because they see good evidence for themselves to believe in Catholicism, but do not yet have the absolute certainty that comes with the Theological Virtue of Faith (which no amount of sensory evidence can, by necessity, make one accept), is it immoral or invalid for them to go to confession while still in this state of doubt, or lack of full and certain acceptance of The Faith?

Imagine that Paul (Saul) was around in the 21st Century: he gets knocked out of his car, has a vision of Christ, and comes to believe in the Catholic Faith. Now let's say that 10 years later, he starts to doubt his faith, and withholds his certain assent to the Catholic Faith. In this hypothetical situation, if Paul would like to go to Penance, not because he fully and absolutely believes he ought to, but because he thinks it 'might benefit him' or 'just in case' his prior Faith turns out to be true, would it be immoral or illicit for him to go to Confession? Would it be a valid confession if he then truly did despise his past sins, and had a firm amendment to no longer practice them? What if he despised his sins of voluntary doubt as well, while still mainting at least involuntary doubt of his Faith?


#5

[quote="Birdmanman, post:4, topic:302049"]
Hi Vico, thanks for responding!

But the theological virtue of Faith that we receive, although Baptism leaves an indelible 'mark' on our soul, is something that can be accepted or rejected out of free will. In the situations mentioned, the first example (Sally) is describing someone who themselves only thinks there is a possibility that confession is effective for the removal of sins, and is acting out of that possibility, not out of certainty or real belief that the sacrament of Penance actually does forgive sins.

There is certainly a difference between understanding and believing. In these cases, both the belief and the understanding are lacking.
...

[/quote]

Just as described in the Catechism:

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.


#6

You may need to ask someone in the philosophy forum.

Experiencing some doubt is not going to impede the sacrament. Otherwise the sacrament would be of no help, since we all seem to have involuntary doubts now and then. A venial sin of doubt will not wreck everything either. So I don't think a perfect assent is required.

How you can tell what exactly is going on in your head with regard to faith, that I can't tell you. You might need to consult a priest for help understanding what is going on with your doubts, are they mortal, etc. Sometimes your will (your faith) could be fine, but that is obscured to you by layers and layers of confusion and lack of knowledge and emotional factors.

If a person lacks faith because they sinned against it fatally, then to return they likely need to have cooperated with the grace that God has given them to come back, and once they get to the sacrament, they will be good to go. But again, how you are to tell if you have cooperated enough, :shrug:. I can't tell you a precise cut off. If you are at the level of treating the sacrament as one of a list of several religions you are going to try to hedge your bets with, I suspect you are not cooperating enough.

Truly if you are contrite and want to go to confession and want to stop doubting, then go. Let the priest sort it out. If you think it will take extra time, make an appointment, so he has time to help you without regard for the waiting line of people. You do not have to have a fuzzy warm experience of regaining the theological virtue of faith before you go. Faith is in your will. Decide to do this and trust God with the rest.

:twocents:


#7

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