Hypothethically speaking, if one has yet to join the Church, how does one obtain forgiveness of sins since one can’t go to the confession booth for sacrament of reconciliation?
Basically God will judge one’s life and he sees goodness when there is one, whether one is a Christian or not. Thus it is possible for one to go to heaven even if one is not a Christian because of the grace of Jesus’ death on the cross.
However, if one is outside of the Church, one is not privileged to obtain forgiveness of sin in Baptism and subsequent sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation but by virtue of one’s invincible ignorance one may still find favor in God’s grace.
What I think the OP means is how does a baptized person in RCIA receive absolution so that he can worthily receive Confirmation and Eucharist. That answer is simple. The Church allows candidates to make their first Confession shortly before the Easter Vigil, or whenever you receive the sacraments. It is a general confession, where you will recount everything you have done since your non-Catholic baptism.
Essentially there is no firm or doctrinal prohibition on those Christians outside the Church receiving this sacrament. It is allowed as an oikonomia, to put it in Eastern terms.
Well it all depends if the candidate “cathechumen” has been previously been Baptized or not.
If the answer is NO, then it is not an issue because Baptism washes away ALL the previous sins in one’s life. You are given a clean slate to start with.
After which First Communion and Confirmation are administered.
If the answer is YES, then that individual is received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
By Confession and Absolution all his/her’s sins are forgiven and can proceed to receive first Communion and Confirmation.
Hope that helped a little.
Anyone, at any moment, regardless of his state, can obtain forgiveness for his sins by making an act of perfect contrition (that is, by asking for forgiveness out of love for God, not merely out of fear of punishment or some other less than perfect reason).
Of course, for Catholics, an act of perfect contrition always entails–in the case of mortal sins–the firm purpose of going to Confession as soon as possible.
For someone who is in the process of joining the Church, his options depend on a couple of factors.
If he is not yet baptized, his sins will be forgiven at Baptism, so he should simply repent of the sins he is aware of.
If he is baptized, he should make a good confession before he receives the rest of the Sacraments of Initiation.
Regardless, in the case of danger of death, the person should ask for the appropriate sacrament–Baptism or Confession–immediately. If there is no time, or it is impossible (because there is no water, or he is alone, etc.), then he should make an act of perfect contrition and commend himself to God’s mercy.
Does that answer your question?
Father Louis Melahn, L.C.
I do feel contrite, but only because I know my sins are inherently wrong, not because of love of God. If I had love of God, I would not even sin in the first place.
Also, I know I’m losing grace by sinning, so again, I’m remorseful because of loss of grace and the ability to trust in God, not because of love of God. It’s more out of shame than love.
I think you are on good direction to attain forgiveness of God. Remember that God is a forgiving God. It is ideal to be remorseful of our sin knowing that it is wrong and against God and therefore because we love God we will try not to sin against – a classic line during a Confession.
But to realize that sin is wrong and feel ashamed of it is certainly a good start. You are saying you don’t want to lose the grace. I think you value something which would be lost by sinning. There are many personal reasons why we don’t want to sin. Sometimes it is out of fear which is valid enough.
Most important is a person has to start somewhere. God would be very pleased knowing that you detest sin, whatever your reason may be. If you believe that only God can forgive sin which is the next step, then you always can come to God telling him about it. Do not underestimate the grace of God. He will do the rest to bring you back to him. Our role is to seek him and he will answer.
May God bless you.