Nearly two years ago, a social-media acquaintance of mine asked me to explain the Sacrament of Confession. I thought long and hard about what to say, and how to phrase it so that it would make sense to Protestant ears. Eventually, I decided on a logical path I could take that would explain the reason that Catholic theology requires the Sacrament of Confession.
This was the introduction to part 1:
As I began to formulate this answer, I realized that it would not be short or simple. Imagine going to a box of Christmas lights and attempting to retrieve only one. Most often, you end up with all the wires in the box coming out as one big ball. In order to retrieve just the one, you have to sit there and focus on the winding path of the one you want, paying attention to all the places where it intersects with the others. The doctrine of the sacrament of Confession is not all that difficult. I could answer it in a few short scriptures and be done with it. But, those scriptures a Catholic uses to support confession are not interpreted the same way by Protestants. And so in order to give an answer for why Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we must first address the nature of sin, the nature of sacrament, and the validity of the priesthood, and all of these concepts hinge on the way Catholics view Scripture.
I practically put together a syllabus for a semester-long lecture series. Ultimately, I became too daunted by the amount of material I couldn’t articulate, and I gave up.
Tonight, As I stood in line for confession, I realized that I had tried to give a lecture instead of an answer. So tonight, let me attempt to give the answer that I should have given two years ago. Continue reading
Someone recently asked me why Catholics go to Confession. Honestly, this is a blog post I’ve been putting off for a while, but it is a question that deserves an answer. As always, when my answers touch on Catholic doctrine, I offer this *Quick Disclaimer.* I answer the following questions according to my current understanding. I cannot claim beyond a shadow of doubt that my answers are totally without error. I reserve the right to edit the answer at anytime. Thanks for your understanding.
I love holidays! There is something about the recurring nature of them that helps me. At least once a year, I am reminded to give thanks for the blessings I’ve received! If I watch my calendar, I can’t miss it! It is right there, staring me in the face! THANKSGIVING! And even if I don’t pay attention to calendars, the turkey and dressing grabs my attention and jump-starts my thankfulness.
Remembering can be a powerful act of Worship. It has the power to lift us out of the doldrums of our current circumstances into the very presence of God. The psalmist knew this in Psalm 66, when he recounted all of the mighty acts God had shown the Children of Israel. Peter knew it when he wrote, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…the power and coming of our lord Jesus Christ [for] we were eye-witnesses to his majesty!” 2 Peter 1:13, 16 And Jesus knew it when he instructed us to remember him through the Eucharist.
Homework this week. Think of all the ways you have been blessed and give thanks to God for his activity in your life. Throughout the week, meditate on all the ways that God has acted on your behalf.
Two weeks ago I talked to you about reclaiming a “healthy sense of wonder.” This week we have an excellent opportunity to practice as we gather together to take communion. If you grew up in the church, it is very likely that the act of communion has become commonplace. It is very easy to treat this as just another thing we “do” in church. But, friends, this is far more than just something we do! This is our opportunity to commune with God. As we physically consume the Body of Christ, we have the opportunity to spiritually be consumed by God’s presence.
We grew up in a culture that related the word “real” to mean physical or natural, but by doing so we have shortchanged the spiritual world. Jesus told the crowds in Capernaum, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:55-57)
Just as it is true that if we stop eating food, in time our bodies will really die, so it is true that if we stop communing with God through Jesus Christ our spirits will really die. The death is no less real. Just as we cannot live full lives on one meal, but must eat regularly to remain healthy, so too we cannot remain vital disciples off of one experience with God.
So this week, as we come to meet with God through the act of communion, worship through remembrance. As you receive the host, remember the times throughout history that God gave Himself for His children. He delivered them out of Egypt, sustained them through the wilderness, and led them into the Promised Land. He provided a way for them to draw near through the law, through sacrifices. Then remember the times He has delivered, sustained, and led you. Remember that He provided a way for you to draw near, defeating the law, through His son. And this week, instead of taking the Body and Blood of our Lord, let them take you. . .into the very presence of our loving, sustaining God.