Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Catholic Basement Tapes 4 / The Sacrament of Confession

TJ and PD discuss the Sacrament of Confession and how it has become a blessing in their spiritual lives and marriage. It starts with a brief reading from Scripture, the Catechism as well as the Didache and St. Augustine's writings and ends with their personal testimony regarding the benefits of this sacrament. There is also an explanation regarding the meaning and purpose of penance.
It is non-scripted, but goes a bit long at 17 minutes. God bless and thanks for listening. Feel free to comment!
Hear the Podcast Here.


Anonymous Nancy said...

Excellent podcast. The toughest part for me is always the taking the first step into the confessional, because it's admitting that I've been a real doofus. But it feels really good to unload those burdens and receive God's grace. My priest loves the sacrament and is a good confessor.

I read an article about how an evangelical church in Florida had set up an website for folks to confess online. Now while I applaud them for realizing the importance of confessing one's sins, there's something out of place about having people revealing their problems to thousands of anonymous readers who really don't have any interest in the welfare of the penitent. I'd rather trust someone who is bound not to say anything.

May 30, 2007 7:25 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Nancy!
It's the "hard sacrament" in my mind but has almost immediate effects!
If more Catholics realized the blessing that could be had in the confessional, particularly from a good confessor, lives would be changed.
I still remember how I felt when as a little kid I left the confessional. As if the slate was wiped clean.
I heard about the church in Florida. When a recent evangelical preacher scandal erupted in November, there was a lot of blogging about the possible benefit of confession among protestants. Some Lutherans still have confession available if they choose to take advantage of it.

May 30, 2007 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Theo said...

TJ and PD:

Excellent job. If I may be so bold: I prefer your unscripted podcasts to the scripted.

Thanks for sharing your insights.

May 30, 2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks Theo.
one of these days gotta get you and maybe PA in on the Radon Exposed Catholic Tiber-Casts

May 30, 2007 3:42 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...

TJ & PD,

Well, I think you guyz did a great job again, as always. I confess :) that I'm not sure what the difference is between going to a priest or going to one's Pastor to talk about personal sin. The Pastor advises and prays with and for the troubled person, as a priest would. In addition, the Pastor has the authority to assure the sinner that, by grace through faith on the basis of God's Word, his sins are forgiven in Christ. The Pastor will suggest certain courses of action that may need to be taken in order to avoid such situations in the future. In cases where other persons are involved and reconciliation is needed, the Pastor may help facilitate that. Additionally, further church discipline may be necessary, but that typically is not the case when a person has, on his own initiative, confessed sins and errors. There must be more to the Catholic doctrine than I currently understand, and would like to discuss it further, unless it is simply a matter of the RCC not recognising the Protestant minister's authority (as coming from Christ) in such a situation.



Uh..."maybe PA?!"

June 01, 2007 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Theo said...

Pilgrim, my brother:

As usual, you are quite perceptive--even in recognizing that there might be something you don't perceive! (Seriously, if you think about that, that's got to be a sign of true wisdom.)

Indeed, you've nearly, but not quite apprehended how to view the sacrament of reconciliation from a Catholic perspective.

May I humbly try to clarify, knowing that a small host will likely chime in if I get it wrong?

When we say doctrinally that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the normative vehicle through which Catholics receive forgiveness, this is qualified by what the whoop we mean: this language will tend to confuse if not understood in full context.

First, by "normative," we mean normal, usual and advised. This does not mean that sins may be forgiven *only* via the sacrament. Indeed, we also believe that God cleanses us of original sin via baptism (and we would be wise to note that "baptism" itself has both a normative definition and a broader sense), or via direct confession and an act of contrition to God (The "good thief " was neither physically baptized nor assured by any priest or minister of forgiveness but Jesus, the one High Priest, Himself.).

Second, as implied by the above, though an ordained priest is the *normative* administer of this sacrament, in a pinch, *any Catholic * can hear the confession of another and in the name of Jesus (in the authority of Jesus), absolve him. After all, we are a nation of kings and priests.

Thus, I recognize that were Tiber (for example) tending to me medically while I was suffering a heart attack and were no ordained priest available, I could contritely confess my sins to him and he could absolve me in Jesus’ name; or, were I alone and suffering a heart attack, I could act as my own priest by contritely confessing before Jesus (who promises to be with us always) and in his name, accept absolution and forgiveness. Neither is *normative* for Catholics, but both are allowed.

Additionally, you should remember that this is normative *for Catholics* who by their affiliation are obligated to obey cannon law to the best of their ability in grace. Non-Catholic Christians are not obligated to follow Catholic cannon law; therefore, of course they may confess to God directly or to a minister or fellow Christian or congregation of Christians--all methods common to many Protestant churches--and be forgiven and absolved of the offense.

I hope this helps more than muddles.


June 01, 2007 5:12 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for listening to the rather long "tybercast." I now have a reader/feeder RSS thingy so people can down load our rants onto their MP3 players too.
One thing that the podcast didn't make clear was the difference between spiritual direction and confession. PD goes to a priest for confession/absolution who then counsels her, called spiritual direction. Not all Catholics receive this and it can be separate from confession, but reading the history of saints shows us that many saints had confessors who provided spiritual direction.(Protected them from getting too loony, I suppose, particularly our beloved mystics, St Faustina, etc) It is also wise to go to a confessor who gets to know you, your sin patterns, areas of weakness etc.
So, I don't think there is a difference between spiritual direction in the Catholic vs counseling and pastoral assistance in the non-Catholic church.
The difference lies in the aspect of the absolution of sin. This is where it gets kinda sticky. I am assuming you know most of this already, PA, but for the sake of other TIBER READERS here goes:

Catholics/Orthodox believe that validly ordained priests have a historical line of succession from the original apostles who were given the ability to bind and loose sins. The Church believes this was the initiation of the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation found in the Gospel of John (which I mentioned in the beginning of the cast.)
In the podcast, I used the term "normative" to describe how Catholics believe that the Sacrament of Confession applies the blood of Christ to the forgiveness of sins if we truly are sorry and purpose to not sin in that area again. Do I believe that I was never forgiven as a Protestant because I stopped going to confession at 12 years of age? No, not at all. God can certainly work outside of His sacraments, but Catholics believe (or should anyway,) that frequent confession is the normative way to receive forgiveness from Jesus and the grace to sin no more.
Jonathan Bennett, an Anglican convert has an excellent discussion of confession on his FAQ's from his site. You may want to check that out:

June 01, 2007 5:25 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Oh yeah, "maybe PA", I mean of course, as schedules allow :)

June 01, 2007 5:49 PM  
Blogger Pilgrimsarbour said...


Thank you both. It was indeed very helpful. I had not given any thought previously to the issue of the believer being a priest and a king in the context of confessing one's own sins, either to God or to another believer. Very interesting. I'll need to think on that some more. TJ, I would like to see you post a discussion of the Catholic understanding of binding and loosing on earth and heaven. Protestants have a different view on that, and I think it would be a wonderful vehicle for discussion.



June 01, 2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

I am certainly not an expert in the Catholic concept of binding and loosing but St. Augustine had a bit to say about it as well as some of the other Church Fathers.

There are several good apologetic sites that talk about it and william webster, james white, steve ray and others have gone round and round on Matt 18. I don't have enough on the ball to contribute to a discussion about the Petrine Doctrine, (I read Steve Ray's book though.)
My (TJ's) Catholic understanding is this:
Jesus passed His authority on to His disciples to start a Church and gave them power to administer His forgiveness, the sacraments, and the ability to teach infallibly specifically in the area of faith and morals. (Not science, weather or sports)
Though we recognize a priesthood of all believers and we can unite our sacrifice to Christ's in a priestly fashion, Catholics believe in a distinct and separate priesthood (presbyters) given this authority via the laying on of hands.
Theo, feel free to chime in!

June 01, 2007 9:36 PM  

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