Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Penance Service tonight

Parish Penance Service - tonight, 7:30 pm, SAA Church. The service will include readings, a homily, and a public examination of conscience. Then, there will be several priests here to hear individual confessions. Please encourage others to take advantage of this opportunity to receive God's Mercy, and pray for a good turnout of St A's parishioners!
The following are my notes for our discussions in RCIA about Confession. The comments or questions in italics are some of the most common among Catholics and non-Catholics about Confession. To view an examination of conscience, please go to the post, “Examination of Conscience”, from 8/24/06 under Archives.

I’m afraid to go to Confession
- been many years
- forgot how
- priest will judge me
- priest will tell others my sins
- I will forget some sins
- I wouldn’t know where to start with my sins

Keep in mind:
- it is Christ in the Confessional; in persona Christi
- “whoever hears you, hears me” (Lk10:16)

- we hear and know we are forgiven
-“I absolve you in the name of the F, S, and the HS”

- Christ’s grace in Confession heals us and gives us the strength to overcome future sins (MT, JP II)
- the priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future

- confessing on the lips = shows true contrition
- as when I sin against a friend; need to go face to face

How do I make a good Confession?
- examination of conscience
- contrition
- confession
- do your penance

How often should I go?
- at least once a year (req.)
- whenever in mortal sin or think you may be (before Comm.)
- once a month (MT, JP II)
- grow in grace and holiness; frequent Confession helps us to
‘ forgive those who trespass against us’ so that we will be
- see our sins as they are (gossip, e.g.) and see ourselves as we are: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner”

I thought only God forgives sins. How can the priest forgive sins?

Jesus gives his power of forgiving sins to the Apostles (the first priests):

“’As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After saying this, he
breathed on them and said: ‘receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are
retained’”. – Jn 20:21-23

“ God reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (1 Cor 5: 18)

Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess to God privately?

- we can be forgiven of venial sins outside of Confession
- the Penitential Rite at Mass, Eucharist, sincere Act of Contrition, e.g.

- but, forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Confession


At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I am unsure whether or not something is a mortal or venial sin but I chose to do it anyway, wouldn’t I then be guilty of a mortal sin?

In the same way, if I am aware that I don’t know the church’s teaching on something (and knew I was unclear of that teaching) and I continue to act anyway, wouldn’t I also be guilty of a mortal sin- because I’d surely be acting with the knowledge that I might be committing a sin, which seems equally wrong. If someone deliberately remains in the dark on an issue, can they really stand behind the thought that they’re without sin because sin requires full knowledge that something is wrong.

For instance- not going to a Mass on a Holy Day of obligation. A friends of mine didn’t go to Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. One of her kids was sick the Sunday prior and she didn’t hear the announcement. Now, even if one doesn’t know all the HDO (I’d long thought several days were obligatory that are not- just learned last year that Ash Weds. isn’t), my thinking is that we are obligated to look at the church calendar to make ourselves familiar with those dates. Would someone who did not bother to do that be free of a mortal sin because they did not know they should have been in church?

I think about this every Lent when so many people express that they are unclear about the “rules” regarding several things. They know that they don’t know and yet are complacent in their ignorance. To me, that seems like a pretty significant offense against God.

At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have another question- where did the concept of separating sin into two categories (mortal/venial) come from? The Bible says that the “Wages of sin is death.” St. Paul doesn’t make the distinction that only “big” sin causes death. How did we come to believe that mortal sin sends us to hell and requires confession while venial sin may not and can be remedied on our own?

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even know where to start. I think all I could come with would be "umm...."

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First anon:

I don't think this is an easy question to answer; it deals with the primacy of conscience. If we change a word, we can ask the same question that Pontius Pilate asked, "Conscience, what is conscience?" Our conscience is not infallible and should not be seen as so. I'd probably sit and talk with a priest to figure out what exactly I was dealing with; a mortal sin, a venial sin, or no sin.

Try reading Part III, Sec. 1, Ch. 1, Art. 6 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It deals with the concept of moral conscience.

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met:

1) be of grave matter (breaking one of the commandments, etc)
2) committed with full knowledge (you know it's a grave sin)
3) committed with deliberate consent (knowing it's a grave sin, you do it anyway)

Just a few of the issues that factor into one's conscience:

*One's conscience can be wrong.
CCC 1790. A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were to deliberately act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

*We are responsible for developing our conscience.
CCC 1791. This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

*There are many sources that form our conscience.
CCC 1792. Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement of one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At one point during the Christmas concert on Sunday, two boys were dancing around, wearing foil hats with a deelybobber-thing on top.

Surely that was penance for SOMEthing.


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