By Daniel Sutton
To the outsider, both Christian and non-Christian, it must be a strange sight to behold. There, outside a "box" , is a line of adults waiting patiently to go inside the "box" to confess their most dark violations of morality to another adult. The adult will then proceed to absolve the person from their sins and once again "though their sins be as scarlet" their souls upon exiting this "box" shall be made white as snow.
Strange sight indeed.
Or is it?
This short article will prove that Catholic confession is pure genius in concept and execution, that it is purely scriptural, and that without it any Christian denomination has stripped itself of any power to radically change lives for the better.
Scripture says:"Confess your sins to one another". This command cuts right to the heart of Christianity itself. It brings together the crucial elements of sin, its effect of separation from God and community, and just a general honesty of person towards his/her Christian community.
Ahhhh. But we have a big problem here my friends. And it has only been made worse by our 21 st century mindset. We are a society that delights in scandal and gossip. No proof necessary here. The daily news will suffice for that. So I don't know about you but I would be rather reluctant to grab a Christian community member by the arm and tell them my darkest sins. Or worse, grab a microphone, stand before the entire flock and confess sins that might make the devil himself blush.
In six hours my carnival of sins would be on the evening news for all to hear. So confessing to just anyone in the community would not work It's just not practical. It would be unreasonable to expect any normal human being to subject themselves to such humiliation. My God most merciful would not require me to do such a thing. However, the basic command exists "spit the poison out." Confess and repent or stay stuck in the mire of your own making. Quite a problem wouldn't you agree?
Enter the Catholic Church with its Sacrament of Confession. Or ,as it is sometimes called, The Sacrament of Reconciliation. Church leaders in the Catholic Church are called priests and one of their most sacred obligations is called the "Seal of The Confessional". This "seal" means that what is confessed in the confessional stays in the confessional no matter what. No power of law or state or any kind of human coercion can force the priest to reveal what is said in the confessional.
Therefore the tricky problem is solved. The penitent can confess the most troubling sins, receive some words of advice and encouragement, receive 100% assurance of forgiveness all in a purely "No Gossip" zone. The reason Catholics return to confession is that beyond the spiritual benefits it makes for improved mental hygiene. The beneficial effects are experienced immediately by every Catholic wise and brave enough to utilize this God-given spiritual resource.
Even Sigmund Freud himself, the father of mental health techniques and not a Christian, called the Catholic practice of sacramental confession pure genius. But is going to Confession easy or difficult and exactly how do you do it? I'll cover that in my next article.
Daniel Sutton id editor-in-chief of the web site http://www.catholic-expert.com