Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Confession is real

This blog site and the internet in general can be good tools of communication, but they aren't the best. Nothing beats good old fashioned conversation in person for ideas to be communicated and received. On the topic of Confession, I think back to several conversations with people on different occasions when I was a seminarian. On most of these occasions when I explained that Confession is mainly for the forgiveness of MORTAL sins and that anyone who dies in mortal sin goes to Hell, the reaction has been, 'I need to get to Confession asap'.

I have presented the same points a few times in my posts and answers to people's questions, but it seems that they haven't registered in the same way. Now, in fairness, maybe some bloggers haven't read my posts on Confession or Judgement (notes on Heaven, Hell, Purgatory) or have never had the benefit of a personal explanation of Reconciliation. The main point, though, is that Hell is real and Confession keeps us from going there.

Recently, a blogger suggested that the absolution given in Confession is temporary, and asked, "Doesn't God judge us when we die, then what is the point of going to confession if in the end God decides what is to become of us?" I appreciate the question, but not quite sure from where it comes. Nowhere in the Bible, Catechism, or Magisterial documents is temporary forgiveness and absolution mentioned. When God absolves sins, they are gone forever.

Jesus gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins in John 20:20-23. "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, whose sins you retain are retained". He doesn't say, 'whose sins you forgive temporarily are forgiven them temporarily'. When Christ forgives and absolves (primarily mortal) sins through his priests in Confession, it is forever. Those sins no longer exist in God's eyes; they have disappeared for all eternity. We still need to serve out a punishment for the sins (which comes in the form of Penance in this life and Purgatory in the next), but we are forgiven, and back in a state of God's Grace.

WE NEED TO BE IN A STATE OF GRACE WHEN WE DIE IN ORDER TO GO TO HEAVEN. This is really the main point of all of this, and one of the biggest points that I need to get across to folks as a priest. If a person hasn't been absolved of mortal sin (which takes us out of the state of Grace) before going in front of the Judgement Seat of God, then he/she receives the awful and eternal punishment of Hell. "God predestines no one to go to Hell" (CCC, #1037), and He has given us Confession as a primary way to avoid going there.

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