St John's Q&A

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Confession and Anointing of the Sick - notes

Here are my notes from tonight's talk on Confession and Anointing of the Sick, which is part of our summer series, "Seven Ways to get to Heaven". Please feel free to ask any questions or make comments if something is unclear. Please join us next Tuesday (7/19) at 7 pm!!
“Seven Ways to get to Heaven”

Introduction to series
A. What are the seven ways? Are there other ways?
- we don’t know of any other means (CCC, # 1257)
- 'baptism by desire' is still baptism, e.g.

In the sacraments, we encounter Christ and receive his Grace in a special
- this Grace gets us to Heaven
- sacramental grace = sharing in the life of God
- Can we get this Grace on our own?
- Thus, can we get to Heaven on our own?

We need the sacraments (Church, priests) to get to Heaven

B. Sacraments – all are from Christ himself
- Eucharist (“This is my body” Lk 22)
- Baptism (“Baptize in the name of the F, S, and HS” Mt 28)
- Confirmation (“receive the Holy Spirit” Jn 20)
- Confession (“whose sins you forgive are forgiven them” Jn 20)
- Anointing of the Sick (Jesus sends the apostles out - “they set
off to..anoint many sick people Mk 6)
- Marriage (“what God has united, man must not divide” Mt 19)
- Holy Orders (“do this in memory of me” Lk 22)

- Christ guarantees that we will go to Heaven if we receive his sacraments
e.g., “anyone eats this bread will live forever” (Jn 6: 51)

3. Confession and Anointing of the Sick


Is Confession necessary to get to Heaven?

Yes, if we’ve committed a mortal sin (what’s that?) which breaks us off from God
No, if we haven’t committed a mortal sin and are always in a state of grace.

Yes, in order to live fully in Christ on Earth.

Why does the Church talk about sin so much?
Because Jesus talked about sin so much
- he gave his very life for the forgiveness of sins
-“this is my blood…it will be shed for you and for all so that sins
may be forgiven”
- he preached about sin in general (“you will die in your sins” Jn 8:24)
- he preached about specific sins (“murder, adultery, fornication, theft,
perjury, slander. These are the things that make a person unclean”
-Mt 15:19-20
- many of the diseases that he cures (lepers, blindness, etc.) represent sin
for us
- he talked about the penalty for those who leave him in sin
-“anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch – and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire”
- Jn 15:6
- “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:13)

Is Confession only about sin?
No, it’s primarily about God’s infinite mercy.

- “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but so that through him the world might be saved” – Jn 3:17

- the woman caught in adultery: “has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more”
– Jn 8: 11

- the parable of the prodigal son

What is this sacrament called?
Conversion – the first step in returning to the Father after one has strayed from sin

Confession- we confess our sins to the priest but we also confess (acknowledge)
the goodness and mercy of God
Penance- after sinning against God, we need to convert, do penance, and make
satisfaction for our sins ( for forgiveness??)
Forgiveness – by absolution of priest, God grants pardon and peace
Reconciliation – with God and with the Church

I thought only God forgives sins. How can the priest forgive sins?

Jesus has the power to forgive sins
“all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” – Mt 28:18

“your sins are forgiven” – Lk 7:48 (the woman who was a sinner)
- Mt 9:2 (the paralytic)

Jesus gives the power of forgiving sins to the Apostles (the first priests)
“’As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’. After saying this, he
breathed on them and said: ‘receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive
anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are
retained’”. – Jn 20:21-23

“ God reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry
of reconciliation” (1 Cor 5: 18)

Why do I need to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess to God privately?

- we can be forgiven of venial sins outside of Confession
- the Penitential Rite at Mass, Eucharist, sincere Act of Contrition, e.g.

- but, forgiveness of mortal sins is reserved for Confession

- mortal sins kill our relationship with God and take us out of the state of His grace (which we need to be in to get to Heaven)
- mortem = death
- “there is sin that leads to death” (1 Jn 5:16)
- Jesus’ list of serious sins from Mt 15

- if we are in state of mortal sin at the hour of our death, we will go to
Hell (CCC # 1861)
- “You have heard how it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfuly, he has already committed adultery in his heart. If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown into hell” -- Mt 5:28
- example of how serious sin can cause eternal damnation
- Jesus speaks of Hell and eternal punishment over 100 times in the Gospels
-theme, but not focus of mission
- if no sin, would He have come??

- we need Christ in order to be forgiven
- like those who lived B.C. (priests offered sacrifice for atonement of sins, but “bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are incapable of taking away sins” - Heb 10:4,5… shows ministry of priests w/forgiveness, too)
- Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross = so that our “sins might be forgiven”
- our sins are taken to the cross of Christ and forgiven in Confession in a way that we can’t do on our own (confessing privately takes Christ out of the equation?)

- in Confession, we receive Christ’s sanctifying grace can’t get on our own (ala Baptism, Anointing of the Sick )
- if mortal sins kill our soul, the grace of Confession brings it back to life
- participation in the Paschal Mystery

Keep in mind:
- it is Christ in the Confessional; in persona Christi
- “whoever hears you, hears me” (Lk10:16)

- we hear and know we are forgiven
-“I absolve you in the name of the F, S, and the HS”

- Christ’s grace in Confession heals us and gives us the strength to overcome future sins (MT, JP II)
- the priest can give us advice on how to avoid the sins in the future

- confessing on the lips = shows true contrition
- as when I sin against a friend; need to go face to face

What is the difference between a mortal sin and a venial sin?
1) Grave matter – it’s wrong
2) Full knowledge – I know it’s wrong
3) Full consent – I freely choose to do it

I’m afraid to go to Confession
- been many years (you are especially welcome)
- forgot how (the priest will help you)
- priest will judge me (he will show you Christ's mercy)
- priest will tell others my sins (he is excommunicated if he breaks the Seal)
- I will forget some sins (if by accident, you're still forgiven)
- I wouldn’t know where to start with my sins
- brochure to help with Examination of Conscience)

How do I make a good Confession?
- examination of conscience
- contrition
- confession
- do your penance

How often should I go?
- at least once a year (req.)
- whenever in mortal sin or think you may be (before Comm.)
- once a month?? (MT, JP II)
- grow in grace and holiness; frequent Confession helps us to
‘forgive those who trespass against us’ so that we will be
- see our sins as they are (gossip, e.g.) and see ourselves as we are: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner”

What are indulgences?
- CCC, # 1471

Anointing of the Sick

What happens in this sacrament?
- spiritual strength through the grace of the sacr. From the HS
-against temptations of devil, to discouragement and anguish in the face of death (CCC, 1520)

- spiritual healing; physical, too, if God wills it

- the sick person unites him/herself more fully to Christ’s Passion, and participates in the saving work of Jesus
- Col 1:24
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up with is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church”

- prepares us for the final journey
- just as Baptism began our conformity to the crucified and risen Christ, so Anointing completes it
- also completes the anointings we received at Baptism and Confirmation

- immediate entry into Heaven??
- sacrament can remove the remains of sin and temporal punishment
- if person is fully cooperating with the grace and is alert and free
- suffering removes Purgatory?
- many theologians in the Middle Ages said yes

Where is Anointing of the Sick in Scripture?

- Mark 6:
Jesus sends the Apostles out on mission
- “so they set off to proclaim repentance, and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them” (12-13)

- James 5:
- “any one of you who is ill should send for the elders (presbyters) of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him”(14-16)

- Mark 16:17-18
- “in my name…they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover”
- Peter cures a paralytic, e.g.

Who should be anointed?
- “those Christians whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age”
- may be repeated:
-when sick person recovers after being anointed, and becomes sick again
-during the same illness the condition becomes more serious
- with chronically ill person, if priest decides to repeat
- priest should not delay; person should be active participant
- but should not give to just anybody who feels sick; needs to be
“seriously impaired”

(specific cases)

How is Anointing celebrated?

Matter – olive oil or other oil derived from plants if necessary

Form – “Through this holy anointing…”


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