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Confessing your sins to a priest? ( Or other authority)

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by renniks, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. renniks

    renniks Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how to approach this topic without sounding like I'm trying to debate, which I'm not.
    What I want to understand from those of you who go to confession is what benefits you feel it brings.
    Is it mainly a matter of feeling better after?
    Is it hard to confess and is truly anonymous?
    Do you confess in a general way or very specifically?
    Are there sins that won't immediately be forgiven? I guess the question there is whether penance is really a thing that is practiced today?
    I'm sure I'll think of other questions.
    Again not here to debate. It's just an interesting idea to me. I think I see the appeal but I might be looking at it wrong.
     
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  2. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    Keep in mind that agreeing to do penance is not what causes a person to be absolved of his sins by the priest, and also, if the confessing is too generalized, the priest will ask questions. But withholding absolution is rare.

    As for how those who go to Confession frequently feel about it, for most of them it probably is the case that this is done because they are dutiful members of the Catholic or Orthodox churches rather than because they feel refreshed afterwards.
     
  3. Abaxvahl

    Abaxvahl Well-Known Member

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    Answering questions in order:

    1) It is not mainly a matter of feeling.
    2) It is not truly anonymous and you can even do face-to-face. They might recognize your voice if you go regularly. It can be truly anonymous if you go to a strange priest and make sure he doesn't see you, this is easy to do.
    3) I confess my sins in order of: sinful habits, go through the Ten Commandments and the ways I've broken them, other works and psychological attitudes, laws of the Church I have broken. I ask for advice on overcoming sins, knowledge on if a thing is a sin or not, and then ask for absolution and do my contrition.
    4) They are immediately forgiven. Penance is still given but even if you don't do your penance you're forgiven.

    The main benefit is certainty that you have been forgiven no matter what you feel. If you went to Confession and did it then you've been forgiven. Simple as that, nothing more to be said or thought over. A Sacrament is a visible sign of grace, if you received the visible sign properly then you received the grace. On top of that Confession is good for spiritual direction on overcoming sins, the priest is being used by God there so it is a special time to speak to Him.
     
  4. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Is confidence guaranteed?

    If a parishioner confesses to child abuse, does/will the law require this to be reported to police?
     
  5. Thatgirloncfforums

    Thatgirloncfforums Well-Known Member

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    Speaking as a Lutheran,
    The forgiveness of sins
    No. In fact, we are discouraged from seeing our feelings as a thermometer.
    Hard in what way? No. It's not anonymous. We don't have Confessional booths. We approach the Pastor face to face.
    Usually, when it's private, it's specific. General Confession is done in the context of the Liturgy.
    No. We do not believe in Purgatory. Sins are entirely forgiven, because Christ's justification provides for not only the eternal penalty of sin, but the temporal penalty as well.
    God bless.
     
  6. chevyontheriver

    chevyontheriver Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Confidence is guaranteed. A priest who spills the beans is excommunicated, so it is exceptionally rare that a priest would ever spill the beans. In most parts of the world the legal system understands this confidentiality and will not even pry into the contents of a confession. Some other government entities do not respect priest-confessor confidence and will put a priest in jail for not revealing a confession. But the same governments would also force attorneys and doctors and journalists to spill the beans. The difference would probably be that the priest would do the time.

    As to reporting, clergy members are required to report as are so many other professionals. Except for things learned in confidence in confession or other related counseling.

    A very interesting cinematic study in all of this is Hitchcock's 'I Confess', where a criminal confessed to a priest, and then framed the priest for the crime. The priest could not reveal all that he knew. So how did he exonerate himself?
     
  7. “Paisios”

    “Paisios” Sinner Supporter

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    I pray and confess my sins every morning to God with my morning prayer, but a sacramental confession helps me to take ownership of my sin in a more public way. The priest does not forgive sins in the Orthodox Church, but acts as a witness and gives assurance of God’s forgiveness. So yes, I feel refreshed and cleaner spiritually afterwards.

    It is often embarrassing and hard to confess, but I trust that my priest has my best interests at heart (I think of him as a spiritual physician) and God already knows my faults and my heart. In the Orthodox tradition it is private between the priest and the penitent but it is NOT anonymous at all. Face to face confession, not behind the walls of a confessional as the Roman Catholics do.

    I confess specifically when I remember sins specifically and generally when I don’t remember the specifics.

    In my experience, the priest has always said the prayers of absolution at the time and assured me of forgiveness at the time of my confession. I have not been given a penance as such, but on occasion, have been encouraged to make things right with those I have sinned against, but he has not withheld (nor does God withhold, if I understand correctly) absolution pending completion of that.
     
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  8. Valletta

    Valletta Well-Known Member

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    Like Baptism, this sacrament is a beautiful gift from Christ. It is so important, note that God "breathed" on the Apostles, just as God "breathed" life into Adam.
    Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).
    What an opportunity to receive graces from God through this awesome sacrament!
     
  9. Albion

    Albion Factchecker

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    The authority to forgive and retain sins was given, but the "Sacrament" of Penance/Reconciliation, in the form we know today, didn't even exist in the Church until the Middle Ages.
     
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  10. Jay Sea

    Jay Sea ................ Ke ĉiuj vivu

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    As children after about 7 we were encouraged to go to confession, now called reconciliation regularly. It did not make any real sense. Later in secondary school I found out that originally it was for spiritual guidance which made a lot of sense but by then it was difficult to change to that as no real relationship had been established between with any priest, particularly since many sermons at that time were condemnatory in style concerned more with faults and guilt than reconciling one again with G-d. I feel comfortable speaking with priest outside the confessional box about anything but inside it I find it relationship wise off-puting.
    In LOve
    Jay Sea
     
  11. Thatgirloncfforums

    Thatgirloncfforums Well-Known Member

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    which is why I would never suggest going to a priest whom one doesn't know. It's important imo, that he understands your sins and struggles in light of your overall journey with and toward Christ. We call him 'father' and 'pastor' afterall.
     
  12. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    From an Anglican point of view, noting that private confession is an available option, but not compulsory, for Anglicans:
    In my experience, most people who come for confession are crippled with a sense of guilt for something in particular. They wish to unburden themselves of that, and be assured of God's forgiveness. In that sense, I guess there's a sense of "feeling better," but it's more than just the "feeling better" you might get from sharing with a friend, because the element of hearing God's forgiveness from someone who knows what's eating you up, is part of it. Because of that, while there's a general sort of covering of sin in general, there's usually something very specific going on.

    It would not generally be truly anonymous for us, because you would need to make arrangements to have your confession heard.

    Penance is a thing. I was taught always to give some form of penance, usually aimed at repairing whatever wrong was done. (So, for a very basic example, if someone confessed to stealing, their penance would involve repaying what they stole). In very extreme cases, absolution may be withheld, for a time or indefinitely.

    The law varies. What I was taught to do, as a new priest learning to hear confessions, should this situation ever arise, is tell the penitent that I will go with them to the police station as they report their behaviour. And that absolution will be given after that repentant action.

    So it's not exactly breaching confidence, but it's also ensuring that there is a police report.
     
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  13. Valletta

    Valletta Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, things have changed, while the core of the sacrament -- repentance/contrition, forgiveness of sins by the priest, and penance have remained now for almost 2000 years, outward applications have changed.
    For example, in the first centuries penances were PUBLIC and could be quite lengthy. We don't shout out our sins in public today, we have private confessions. Even in the last decades instead of anonymous confessions many are held face to face. For me in the last number of years it has maybe been 50/50, how it is throughout the word I don't know--and have not payed attention. Jesus never specified private or public, or anonymous or face to face. The importance is found in the Bible, God breathing on the Apostles, providing a sacrament where, like in Baptism, we are forgiven our sins and made new in the eyes of God.
     
  14. renniks

    renniks Well-Known Member

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    I think this is what appeals to me about the idea. Of course I confess to God, but I feel like confession to a person would sometimes give me more confidence that I was truly absolved. Perhaps that only says something about how distant God sometimes feels. I was brought up in holiness movements where praying tends to be more emotional and loud than in many traditions but I'm not naturally inclined to that sort of emotional display. I was startled to find myself weeping in worship last week. ( This is starting to sound like a confession,) and I realized how burdened I still was about some mistakes I feel like I've made and how they effected my kids. It's not as if displays of emotion are discouraged in my church, it being somewhat charismatic, but I would not feel comfortable confessing to a pastor there for whatever reason. Anyway thanks to everyone for the explanations.
     
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  15. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    True repentance, changing of the mind, through the power of His Holy Spirit is what we should be seeking. Blessings.
     
  16. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    Whether to a priest or simply another brother, regular confession is a necessary part of a healthy Christian life. The Christian life is a communal one, and designating a person in the community to hear sins can be a benefit to the community. This is, of course, putting aside other issues of clerical/laity separation and simply looking at the single task. Confession in prayer is incomplete as it is not until our sins are known to the community that they are truly removed of their power over us.
     
  17. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Did you mean your confessed sins should be known by everyone in the community?
     
  18. Jay Sea

    Jay Sea ................ Ke ĉiuj vivu

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    In the catholic church the seal of confession is as far as I was taught inviolable. However I feel some on guilty of serious crime should be required to confess to authorities within a time period and the confessor should be able to inform authorities though without evidence it may be simply hear say.
    In LOve
    Jay Sea
     
  19. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    In an ideal Christian community, yes we would all be aware of the sins of our brothers. There would be no need to hide our short comings as all are aware that we are growing in Christ, and there is no shame in a sin confessed. Think how much gossip would be suppressed if we didn't try to cover ourselves with fig leaves and instead openly confessed to one another. Unconfessed sin, secret sin, festers and grows but sin brought in the light receives the healing grace of Christ.
     
  20. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Have you been in a community that operates that way?
     
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