Malankara World

40 Questions Answered

By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios

QUESTION 13. Should I confess before a Priest?

Private or auricular confession before a priest a sacrament of great benefit if rightly conducted. Christ has given the authority of remitting or forgiving the sins to the apostles (Mt.18: 18, Jn. 20: 22; James 5: 16). Aachan had to confess before Joshua as confession before God (Josh. 7:19) though it was not sufficient to save him from punishment as it was before the atoning death of Christ for the sins of the whole of humanity.

True confession is also a pastoral counseling. Absolution by the priest gives the assurance. Expression prevents suppression and the consequent repression of pardon and a new song in the heart. Genuine confession must be with full confidence in the father confessor, with utter frankness and a sincere desire to forsake the sins confessed and to start a new life of purity and usefulness. Authentic confession ends with unconditional surrender to Christ.

There are many who think that in stopping the practice of private confession the Protestant brethren were throwing away the baby with the bath-water. No doubt medieval practice of confession and the sale of indulgences needed to be reformed. Even today, there are many formal and routine practices of confession which need to be reformed, but confession, as such, is very useful and must be preserved for all those who have some guilty feeling to be shared and absolved. Self-examination asked for in I Cor. 11:27 would make us realize that there are hidden sins in us to be confessed.

The best proof for the need of confession would be a trial of making a sincere and outspoken confession before a priest in whom one has full confidence. That would convince one of its efficacy. There is no other sacrament which gives so much of relief of the heart and the joy of forgiveness (Read Ps. 32; Prov. 28: 13; Lk. 15: 20-24).

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