This is part one of my Sacraments series, not what your catechism taught you.
Quick definition, a Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Jesus to give grace. There are seven.
Fr Lee came over by my request for this Sacrament. I can’t talk anymore, and can’t really get around the church and rectory, so Father offered to come here so I could use the eye-gaze to talk to him.
After we had talked a bit and he understood what was on my mind he began to give me a little direction. He let me know that the early church called Reconciliation the Sacrament of Peace. The first thing Jesus said to his apostles after the Resurrection was “Peace be with you.”
I was not in a state of peace, or even downright chill. And the panic and despair attacks again and again, but I did some thinking about the whole deal.
You see, Catholics have this crazy thing where all Sacraments involve the spiritual AND the physical, because we are body and soul. In confession, we physically say our sins to the priest. I know, why not just say it to God direct, right? He knows all, so He knows I’m sorry. Well yes. But being sorry in spirit is incomplete. You have a body you are neglecting if you go that route.
Before you get on me let’s look at three gospel passages. When Peter denied Jesus three times, he was sorry. I’m sure Jesus knew. But he seems a bit morose in John, after the Resurrection, when he says that he’s going fishing, doesn’t he? It’s almost as if something is weighing on his mind. This is proven when he abandons everything and dives in the water to swim to shore to see the Lord. And Jesus asks him to acknowledge that he loves Jesus, three times! Did He have to do that? No! But we are body and soul, and actively SPEAKING our sins and repentance is to complete and unite the two. Only then did Jesus say, “Follow Me.” I imagine that Peter felt peace then, that Jesus didn’t cast him out for his denial. How amazing it must have been, having a dread of refusal but the humility and desire to reconcile, and to be forgiven!
Last Gospel passage also comes after the Resurrection. Jesus comes in and says, “Recieve the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you retain are retained.” Jn20:21-23.
What does that mean? Well, if you take Him at His word, the power to forgive sins is bestowed upon the apostles through the Holy Spirit. In other words, man does not forgive sins, but the Holy Spirit does. Which is fairly epic, it means Fr Joe Schmoe isn’t sitting there lording over me in some power trip. It means that Fr Joe Schmoe is channeling the power of the Holy Spirit. In telling my sins to a person, I am humbling myself before God, and the forgiveness then comes from God. The Spirit healing our souls from sin in union with our bodily repentance. Body and soul. Isn’t it fascinating?!?
I’m sure my Protestant brethren have a different explanation for this, and I would love to talk about it. It stands to reason that if Jesus said this, then He meant for the apostles to forgive sins. Otherwise, why did He say it? Oh, it’s in the King James version. It’s not a modern thing the Papists made up. If you want to argue that John wrote his latest, I counter with if it disqualifies him from being a reliable gospel writer, why is he in all the Christian bibles? Ya can’t have it both ways.
I can go on and on. The purpose of confession isn’t to wash our hands after we do something dirty, it’s to repent, which in Mark is used by John the Baptist, and literally means “turn around”! Turn around from what you are doing and stop doing it! Confession actually provides the clean break to begin that change. Yeah, we will fall again, but look at Peter, he denied Christ and was forgiven.
So make use of it. It provides pardon and peace. Again, if anyone has any questions I would love to answer. This is just my explanation of the Sacraments rooted in church teaching and tradition. Sure I put it in Joe speak, but so what?