[quote="MaeganFlinchum1, post:1, topic:334800"]
I understand why Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but why the Sacrament of Penance? Why not have us confess directly to God?? Because at the end of someone's life, what is they can't get to a Priest and don't have perfect contrition. I know that they could make a perfect act of contrition, but what if they couldn't? Why didn't he just make it where we confessed directly to him???
Note: I believe in the necessity of Sacramental Confession. I go regularly. In fact, I just went last week, but I don't understand WHY he set it up to where we need a Priest.
For the same reason that God the Son decided to incarnate and be Jesus Christ, God made man, the visible icon of the invisible God.
For the same reason that Christ did not just wave His hand or pray over the sick and hunger, but actually touch them, console them, smile at them, cry with them, and multiply food for them - even though all of that was totally unnecessary, given that, as the blessed centurion affirmed, all He needed to do was to say a word...
Christ is the only High Priest and all the ordained share in His priesthood. He willed to send them as the Father had sent Him - to bring forth the visible images of the invisible God, to bring forth the Good News, to do His works, and to forgive and cleanse from sins. Already when He walked on earth He appointed the twelve apostles and then chose 72 additional disciples to proclaim the Kingdom. After His glorious resurrection and ascension, the apostles appointed in a very clear way their successors (apostolic succession) and the New Testament already clearly speaks of the episkopoi (the bishops), the presbyteros (the priests), and the diaconi (the deacons) although the terms were rather fluid in the apostolic days, becoming more clearly defined by the second century, and clarifying that only bishops and presbyters had the actual power to forgive sins as well as to say the blessing over the Eucharist and consecrate it.
There is a very significant reason why we confess to men, to fellow sinners. One of the reasons is that we realize the meaning of "we love Him because He loved us first" and "you did not choose me, I chose you". Another reason is because we seek reconciliation with Christ's bride, the Church, who is one with Christ, His mystical body. The priest indeed acts in persona Christi Capitis, "in the person of Christ the Head'! Each and every person who confessed at least once knows this as a fact:
when we sin and we repent, it is most natural to fall to our knees and ask for God's forgiveness; it is natural, and even in sincere contrition it still feels good to turn our heart towards God and trust in His mercy.
when we confess, it is not easy. We feel ashamed, embarrassed. We actually confess our sin personally to Christ, we bring it out to the light, and it is written: "everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." It is hard to confess to Jesus in person, knowing with full awareness that on the other side of the confessional He is sitting there, hearing our voice, listening to us. The relationship with a living, present God is much different than the relationship with a distant, invisible God. Our repentance is more sincere, our confession more perfect, our contrition more truthful. Our absolution comes from Christ himself as the priest says: "I absolve you". We don't just by an act of faith confide in God's mercy - we receive God's mercy, we have God's mercy being fulfilled in our ears!
At the end of our life we are at a very special moment.
Time and again, Our Lady has promised her special protection at that time, and we ask in the Ave Maria to pray for us especially: "in ora mortis nostra, at the hour of our death". St. Joseph, her holy spouse, is universally acclaimed as the patron of a peaceful death. And Christ, yes, our very Lord, has repeatedly promised extraordinary graces at the time of our death.
If a priest is not present for the Anointing and the Apostolic Blessing with plenary indulgence, then Christ - who is the master of divine providence and by divine vocation our merciful Savior - will not despise a contrite heart, even if the contrition is not "perfect". In the eyes of Christ, even the smallest act of love has infinite merit. We do not know what the smallest act of love can merit for someone on deathbed. We do know that the good thief, for acknowledging he deserved death on the cross and begging for God's mercy, was given salvation and forgiveness of sins.