Why did Jesus insitute the Sacrament of Penance?


#1

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.


#2

[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.

[/quote]

My thoughts run this way. When Christ ascended to the Father He intended that His mission be carried on in and through His Church.


#3

Sure, you could confess it directly to God. But, that would not be a sacrament. Through the Sacrament of Penance, not only are your sins forgiven, you receive graces that help you through your life. You don't get those graces by confessing directly to God. Plus, if you confess directly to God, you don't get the advice a priest can give you. :thumbsup:

God bless you. :blessyou:


#4

[quote="bben15, post:3, topic:334800"]
Sure, you could confess it directly to God. But, that would not be a sacrament. Through the Sacrament of Penance, not only are your sins forgiven, you receive graces that help you through your life. You don't get those graces by confessing directly to God. Plus, if you confess directly to God, you don't get the advice a priest can give you. :thumbsup:

God bless you. :blessyou:

[/quote]

I always learn so much from converts:thumbsup: You seem to put things in an entirely new light. Why would we have John 20:23 if we could confess directly to God? God bless you on your journey.


#5

Well I think he instituted the sacrament of penance to make it easier for us to be in a state of grace. We do not have to have perfect contrition when confessing to a priest...and the priest can give us advice and help us to pray for more perfect contrition if we are struggling with that.

Also many people are unable to feel God's forgiveness without hearing the priest's words of absolution. Although I confess my sins directly to God each night, I still feel great relief after confession...which is why I try to go every week.

God is infinitely loving and merciful, however, and this is why if we are unable to confess to a priest and have perfect contrition at the hour of our.death our sins will be forgiven.


#6

[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.

[/quote]

Well...let me share you these two examples from the Bible and try to answer the question at the end:

Job 42:

7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

Question: Why did God, who spoke directly to Eliphaz, not just forgive him directly? And why did God order him to go through Job? What was God's point here?

Another one: 2Sam 12 (please read the whole chapter, will only cite this verse):

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the LORD, the son born to you will die.”

Question: Why did God had to send Nathan to David to confront him for his sin?

After thinking about your response to the questions...try to relate this to what you do in the sacrament of confession......:)


#7

The priest acts in Persona Christi.

But that said, it's an act of great humility to actually verbally and in person confess your sins. And humility is way to strip ourselves of all our excess baggage and slip through that "narrow door" and approach God.

I'm sure God hears when I am truly sorry and I say an act of perfect contrition before I can get to a priest, but He really appreciates that I can humbly confess in person.

I can say I've never felt as giddily light in my shoes after an act of perfect contrition as I do when exiting the confessional after a good confession. The abbey I'm associated with is blessed with solid confessors that actually help on your conversion journey, if you make a point of regularly confessing. Confession is an absolutely essential step to a true conversion journey if one is to make progress. In addition it's helped me get over acedia, depression and scrupulosity.

That kind of help is truly priceless.

I realize that going to confession sometimes can be a scary thing, particularly for the first time, but trust us, it's well worth it.


#8

The way I interpret the Sacrament of Penance is that it is essentially a way to return or is a way of coming back to Christ via this Sacrament. The difference of this and confessing directly to God is that its the means of that you have to make an 'effort' to actually go if let's say the person falls into grave sin. He/she must acknowledge she has done wrong, feel sorrow then return via the Sacrament plus like others said, you get priceless knowledge from the Priest that you confess that you can't get from confessing straight to God so to speak. In conclusion I believe that it's the means of that its a way of 'Coming back to the Church' and that you have to show effort that you need to be forgiven.


#9

The priest acts as persona Christi. The sacrament is a personal encounter with Christ, where by we confess our sins and receive forgiveness that we can hear with our ears. We then don't have to worry or second guess ourselves. We know we are forgiven.


#10

Our sins aren't private things between us and God. Our sins involve and affect others. I always felt that going to the sacrament of Penance was a humble acknowledgement of that. If I'm "big" enough to commit the sin, I need to be big enough to say out loud in Confession "I did this, and I'm sorry."


#11

[quote="WaitingForJesus, post:5, topic:334800"]
Well I think he instituted the sacrament of penance to make it easier for us to be in a state of grace. We do not have to have perfect contrition when confessing to a priest...and the priest can give us advice and help us to pray for more perfect contrition if we are struggling with that.

Also many people are unable to feel God's forgiveness without hearing the priest's words of absolution. Although I confess my sins directly to God each night, I still feel great relief after confession...which is why I try to go every week.

God is infinitely loving and merciful, however, and this is why if we are unable to confess to a priest and have perfect contrition at the hour of our.death our sins will be forgiven.

[/quote]

Yes, what you say is true. Jesus did not give us the sacrament for His sake but for ours. Jesus always has the power to forgive our sins when we are truly repentant. But we need, for our own peace, to hear someone saying "I absolve you of your sins," and know that we have been absolved.


#12

Thank you for all the wonderful answers! But just for a clarification (if anyone missed what I meant) I know why we have to confess to a Priest (as far as Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to his apostles. I just wanted to know why it is set up like this. That was just for clarification. Thanks for all the answers!****


#13

[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.

[/quote]

The great commandment is "love God, and love one another." God set up HIs Church in such a way that we have to depend on each other, in order to create opportunities for us to love one another. :)


#14

[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.

[/quote]

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.


#15

[quote="MaeganFlinchum1, post:12, topic:334800"]
Thank you for all the wonderful answers! But just for a clarification (if anyone missed what I meant) I know why we have to confess to a Priest (as far as Jesus giving the power to forgive sins to his apostles. I just wanted to know why it is set up like this. That was just for clarification. Thanks for all the answers!****

Because GOD knows US :thumbsup: HE MADE us :D

Therefore because He realy and truly understands OUR needs he set up this marvelous and beautiful sacrament. So that we can HEAR with our ears "Your sins have beed forgiven" and the one saying it IS Jesus.

Also as others have indicated the priest can give counsel, help and other gifts can come from it.
I know for certain that the Holy Spirit spoke to me once in my confession.
The priest said the words. But they came directly from Him.
Of course at the time I did not understand them. But they were prophetic, you would not believe how much :blush:
I praise the Lord he deemed me important enough to give me those words. They preserved my sanity AND my faith.
For all these reasons and many more, use this gift, make avail of it as often as possible, grow in holiness.

Peace :thumbsup:

[/quote]


#16

I'm gonna jump in here. I'm not going to expound on what others have said and it's all really good. What I'd like to do is examine why we humans would rather confess directly to God instead of to a priest. I've asked a few people this question and they all seem to boil their answer down to "its none of their business." I get that. You've done things that you don't particularly want anyone else to hear about. Me too. I'm a convert too and at my first confession I had to confess things that I had kept buried deep down inside for years. I hated dredging all that up and having to speak it aloud to an individual. I would rather have kept it between just me and God.

However, that would have been an illusion. It will never be just between you and God. On the day of the judgment everything that we have done will be laid bare. The judgment will be a public event. Remember Jesus talking to the Pharisees and he says something to the effect that Sodom and Gomorrah would rise on the day of judgment to condemn those pharisees. We have never actually had a private moment in our life. Paul says that we are surrounded by "so great a cloud of witnesses." Everything you do and say is witnessed by God and many saints. On the day of judgment every secret act will be publicly displayed to every person who ever lived and died. There simply is no confessing only to God. Everyone will know what you and I have done.


#17

[quote="eyesopening, post:16, topic:334800"]
I'm gonna jump in here. I'm not going to expound on what others have said and it's all really good. What I'd like to do is examine why we humans would rather confess directly to God instead of to a priest. I've asked a few people this question and they all seem to boil their answer down to "its none of their business." I get that. You've done things that you don't particularly want anyone else to hear about. Me too. I'm a convert too and at my first confession I had to confess things that I had kept buried deep down inside for years. I hated dredging all that up and having to speak it aloud to an individual. I would rather have kept it between just me and God.

However, that would have been an illusion. It will never be just between you and God. On the day of the judgment everything that we have done will be laid bare. The judgment will be a public event. Remember Jesus talking to the Pharisees and he says something to the effect that Sodom and Gomorrah would rise on the day of judgment to condemn those pharisees. We have never actually had a private moment in our life. Paul says that we are surrounded by "so great a cloud of witnesses." Everything you do and say is witnessed by God and many saints. On the day of judgment every secret act will be publicly displayed to every person who ever lived and died. There simply is no confessing only to God. Everyone will know what you and I have done.

[/quote]

That's true. I have also heard, more as a matter of pious belief than doctrine, I think, that the only sins that will not be publicly known at the last judgment are those already confessed and forgiven in the sacrament of confession.

I never gave that much thought, but in the memoirs of a saint--perhaps St. Faustina--can't remember at the moment, she mentioned that in order to verify that her interior locutions were really from Jesus, she asked him, 'Lord if it is really you, tell me what I confessed in my last confession.' He replied, "I don't remember."


#18

Oh wow, great answers! Thanks so much :)


#19

All sacraments are actions of the Church. That is why you cannot baptize yourself.

Just rejoice that you don't have to confess as in the early Church.

Originally we confessed to one another, before mass, before the entire congregation. Then the priest gave absolution (and penance which many last 15-20 years).

To encourage people to confess more regularly, the confessional was introduced to make the matters more private.

ALSO.. If you are in a state of mortal sin, you are dead (that is what mortal means) and your relation with the Church and God has been broken. You need the Church to revive you, via confession and absolution. You cannot go directly to God, for you have broken that relationship; He will not take your call! So Christ (in the priest) reconciles you with God.


#20

[quote="eyesopening, post:16, topic:334800"]
I'm gonna jump in here. I'm not going to expound on what others have said and it's all really good. What I'd like to do is examine why we humans would rather confess directly to God instead of to a priest. I've asked a few people this question and they all seem to boil their answer down to "its none of their business." I get that. e.

[/quote]

from Genesis 3:

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

From verse 11, God knew Adam had sinned, so here he asks the question and is actually asking Adam to confess what he had done. And verse 12 is Adam's response....and his response actually makes the sin worse, he blames another, God...and Eve, for him being disobedient. So instead of owning to his sin, or admitting the sin (confessing) which God was looking for, he blames another. So the result is disastrous.

Same with the Eve...when God asks Eve in v13, God knows Eve has sinned, God is asking Eve to own up to her disobedience. And you can see Eve's response...she blames the serpent. So, another disastrous response.

From the examples cited above, you can see the when you go directly to God, there is a lot of rationalization, of second guessing, whether we sinned or not.

But in the sacrament, there is no such second guessing. It is direct...we convict ourselves...same as what King David does here:

2Sam 12 (please read the whole chapter, will only cite this verse):

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the LORD, the son born to you will die.”


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