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Pondering Confession (5)

In the Old Testament before the coming of Christ, the sacrifices that the Temple Priests performed served in a way similar to the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist. Simply put, the penitent brought (usually) an animal to sacrifice, laid his hands on the animal confessing his sins, and the animal was sacrificed to temporarily cover the guilt of the penitent (and also his family in certain sacrifices).

This elaborate practice was bloody. It was all at the same time, confession, sacrifice, offering, and application. We now have those things divided up into separate sacraments. We also have a clearer teaching on how these things work for us. It was somewhat unclear in the Old Testament precisely because these things were all the foreshadowings of the One True Sacrifice of Christ and the Sacraments He was going to create in order to apply them to us in their fullest and most mature forms.

Hence these two Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist both draw their application from the beginning Sacrament of Baptism. Confession flows from baptism because it is in some way a renewal of one's baptismal promises. The fullness of forgiveness needed a fuller initiatory Sacrament like baptism. For the Jews of the Old Covenant, they were only experiencing an "immature" application of forgiveness. For the Catholics of the New Covenant we are experiencing the fullness of the mature application of forgiveness. This is one of the reasons that there are so many references to receiving forgiveness in the New Testament--the power of forgiveness was being granted directly to men (from Jesus, to the Apostles, to the Bishops and Priests) in a way it had never been done before.

We have a great gift in the Sacrament of Confession. Do not make light of it and think that it is just an uncomfortable rule of the Church. It is the grace of Christ given in a simple and clear fashion. I cannot say this enough: Go To Confession.


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