Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest, rather than going directly to God?
Well, the quick answer is because that's the way God wants us to do it. In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to "confess our sins to one another." Notice, Scripture does not say confess your sins straight to God and only to God...it says confess your sins to one another.
In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6, Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. And then Scripture proceeds to tell us, in verse 8, that this authority was given to "men"...plural.
In John 20, verses 21-23, what is the 1st thing Jesus says to the gathered disciples on the night of His resurrection? "Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.'" How did the Father send Jesus? Well, we just saw in Mt 9 that the Father sent Jesus with the authority on earth to forgive sins. Now, Jesus sends out His disciples as the Father has sent Him...so, what authority must Jesus be sending His disciples out with? The authority on earth to forgive sins. And, just in case they didn't get it, verses 22-23 say this, "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"
Why would Jesus give the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins if He wasn't expecting folks to confess their sins to them? And how could they forgive or retain sins if no one was confessing their sins to them?
The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Jesus sends out His disciples with the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we are simply following the plan laid down by Jesus Christ. He forgives sins through the priest...it is God's power, but He exercises that power through the ministry of the priest.
Yesterday as I was thinking about the scandals of the Obama administration, and how he seems to be taking America down, the Lord placed in my mind the verse: "The Battle belongs to the Lord."
Likewise we are seeing the world seemingly winning against the moral of the world and all looks lost. But "The Battle belongs to the Lord."
Our battles with sin also seem helpless. It seems that we take one step forward, and then 8 steps back. Especially when we try to win on our own strength. But, if we step back and watch the Lord take over, "The battle belongs to the Lord."
"Es gibt nicht mehr als 100 Menschen auf der Welt, die die Katholische Kirche wirklich hassen, aber es gibt Millionen, die das hassen, was sie für die Katholische Kirche halten…Wenn wir Katholiken all die Unwahrheiten und Lügen, die gegen die Kirche gesagt wurden, glauben würden, würden wir die Kirche wahrscheinlich Tausend Mal mehr hassen als sie es tun."
Erzbischof Fulton Sheen
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Father Joseph Ratzinger 1969 Prediction of the Future of the Church
In a 1969 German radio broadcast, Father Joseph Ratzinger offered this prediction of the future of the Church:
“The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves.
To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered.
If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!
How does all this affect the problem we are examining? It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the [sidelines], watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of man, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future.
Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.
The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century.
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
"Interesting that they call it "gay pride" because pride is the worst of sins and the root of all other sins - in essence a stubborn rebellion against God and his commandments. This parade in Tel Aviv is awful and shameful not only because Israel promotes sexual perversion and the distortion of God's purpose for the human person, but it's even worse because they celebrate it with "pride". Remember that God will extend His protection upon you, Israel, only to the extent that you keep his commandments. In other words, you are inviting disaster upon your nation. Repent!"
Andre Villeneuve on the Gay Pride in Israel
If the Church becomes more and more like the world, why would we need the Church then anymore? The world does what the world does - and it can do that way better than Church people will ever be able to. If we don't have more than this, if we are no different than anybody else, what's the point of being a follower of Jesus Christ?
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
Wisdom of the ancients: "Should we look to kings and princes to put
right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers
to come and seize the rich person's gold and distribute it among his
destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emporer to impose a tax on the
rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to
share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force
would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined
both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making
themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away
would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold
from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no
generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit
to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be
accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only
way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and
then they will joyfully share their wealth." -- St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople (died in 407 A.D.)
My goal in life? I want to cross the finish line with nothing else left to give for my Lord, hearing those words: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in!"
do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding
Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because,
after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now
is that when we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our
hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the
Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves"
Copyright 2018 Robert Gollwitzer. All Rights Reserved.