THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
19 April 2020
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Jesus appeared to the Apsotles, breathed upon them, giving them the Holy Ghost with the power and authority to forgive sin. This reception of the Holy Ghost is different from the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost Sunday. Many and varied are the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Here on earth, the Holy Ghost dwells within the Catholic Church, but His gifts are numerous and varied. We are each given different and various gifts so that we may come together and complement or complete one another. Each gift of the Holy Ghost is incomplete or wanting until it is united with all the other gifts.
Not everyone is given the power and authority to forgive sins. It was only to the Apostles and their successors that Jesus imparted this gift of the Holy Ghost. If the power to forgive sins were given to all the believers, then there would be no need for Apostles or even for the Church. This gift of the Holy Ghost was not for the immediate benefit of the ones who received it, but was rather given to them for the benefit of others. A priest cannot absolve himself, but only others. It is the love of our fellow men that perfects the love of God.
With every sacramental confession we should thank God for the power and authority He has given to true priests. We should likewise pray for our confessors because this is a heavy responsibility placed upon their shoulders. St. Gregory reminds priests that it is God that restores life and it is they who are to remove the bindings (sin). When Jesus raised Lazarus to life after four days, He then instructed the Apostles to remove the death bindings and set Lazarus free. So it is in sacramental confession. God calls forth the sinner from death by drawing him to humbly confess his sins and resolve to do penance and amend his life. It is the priest's duty to see the life that God has given and then remove the bindings (sin) of the dead and set them free.
It would not be prudent to remove the bindings of those still dead in sin, because that would only reveal death and decay, nor would it do to leave the living bound with the ties of sin. The priest must judge, but he must strive to judge correctly according to the Will of God. He will have to answer to God accordingly. Penitents should remember that though the priest may be wrong in his judgments, we do not do wrong in submitting to these wrong judgments humbly and meekly as Jesus did before His false accusers. Humble and virtuous obedience is always pleasing to God, and therefore, good for us. This obedience may be what is necessary to soften the heart of the priest towards us and perhaps draw him closer to God as well. Rebellion or resistance only adds more sins to our souls and confirms the priest in his judgment that we are not worthy of receiving the forgiveness of our sins.
The man that is bound cannot remove the bindings himself, he needs the aid of someone else. The sinner is in need of the aid of a priest. The priest has a gift from God but he needs the sinner in order to put his gift to work. It is truly marvelous to contemplate the many and varied ways that God has designed so that we can develop ever greater love for one another. When each one gives of what he has, no one is left wanting anything. All advance in life, love, and grace. The opposites are not contradictory but are rather, complementary: men and women, young and old, rich and poor, capital and labor, teacher and student, doctor and patient, ….
This gift of forgiving sins is given right after the Resurrection of Jesus. It is the gift of life and love. It manifests God's love for us, and indicates the love that we must have for one another. We cannot truly say that we love God, Whom we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbors, whom we can see.
To truly rise to life we must thank God for the gifts He has given to those around us. We must set aside any envy or jealousy. The various gifts God has given to others are of benefit to us when we correctly understand God's ways. What benefits our neighbors, benefits us. What benefits us, benefits our neighbors. We rise and fall together. We should not hesitate to ask for the aid we need from others, nor should we deny the aid that we can give to others.
Let us not hesitate to seek the forgiveness of our sins from our priests as well as the food of our souls the Living Body of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. May we also remember to give of our material support and prayers to aid the priest. He is to feed our souls, we are to feed his body. One hand must wash the other. In this way we grow in the love of one another, but most importantly we grow in the love of God.
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