Definition: The admission of sin and guilt to a Catholic priest, God’s judicial representative. Confession is an integral part of the Catholic sacrament of Penance. In order to be reconciled to God, both serious (mortal) and minor (venial) sins must be confessed with an attitude of contrition or sorrow. The priest then pronounces absolution, and the guilt of the sin is removed (subject to the performance of satisfaction on the part of the penitent). If sins are confessed without the proper attitude, or if the satisfaction demanded by the priest is not performed, the sins are retained and are even greater. Mortal sin “kills” the friendship with God until they are properly confessed. If a Catholic dies with unconfessed mortal sin, they suffer eternal punishment in hell. Less serious (venial) sins only wound the relationship. Even though the guilt of sin is absolved via the sacrament, the temporal punishment for sin remains, and must be paid for in this life or in the next in the sufferings of Purgatory.
Discussion: The poor Catholic is placed into an interminable process of confession of sins to achieve continuing relationship with God, the taskmaster and judge. In contrast, those who trust in Christ for salvation are once and for all reconciled to God, and adopted as His children (Rom. 8:15-16). As His children, they are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). James says that we are to confess our sins one to another (Jam. 5:16), not to a priest. This confession is to restore us from the temporal consequences of sin, not to get us back into right standing with God.
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Q & A by Dr. Joe Mizzi – Auricular Confession: A Late Invention