The purpose of this document is to shed
some light on three
fundamental issues of Catholicism and other Christian
(a) The "why" of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, how "it works" and its benefits;
(b) Our recourse to the Infallible Guidance by the Holy Spirit and how we can greatly benefit from it; and
(c) What is really meant by "not to give/cause scandal" within a Church as well as why scandal should be avoided.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Traditionally called "Confession" in the Catholic Church - East and West. This Sacrament is fulfilled by a prescribed interaction between the penitent and the priest. It consists, after adequate preparation by the penitent, in the confession of all sins committed by act or omission since the last time the Sacrament was entered into. This confession of sins/misdeeds is followed by spiritual instruction/illumination by the confessor priest for the benefit of the penitent's soul and concluded by the general absolution granted to the penitent by the confessor, granted by the power vested in him by the Church..
Gallons upon gallons of ink have been utilized in Catholic doctrinal books, catechisms, apologetics, etc. expounding the need, benefit, etc. for such Sacrament. We do not intend to recopy or rewrite all of that. We are going to try to explain, from a very practical point of view, why it really is a good idea.
The Infallible Guidance by the Holy Spirit
In a nutshell: If each one allowed the Holy Spirit of God to guide our every step, then, every step we took would yield perfect results. "Perfection" is not what man may think of - which usually is based on a concept completely colored and influenced by the very personal and very worldly interests of a particular man or woman.
The only Perfection that exists is God and if every step that each one of us takes as we journey through life [hopefully, with Him as the Ultimate Goal] is taken in accordance to His Holy Spirit, it will simply be perfect. Joseph's perfect step may be different than the perfect step taken by, say Ellen, when faced with exactly the same external circumstances, however, each is step perfect when all factors (external and internal) are taken into account - something that only God can do for He knows each one of us as "the palm of His hand".
Prevention of Scandal Within Church
"Scandal" is any behavior/acts/words that
may negatively affect
journey to the Ultimate Goal - God. We may classify this into
Scandal that drives the faithful away
(b) Scandal which may neutralize certain Church teachings by association with scandalous practice/teaching/example; and
(c) Scandal resulting from different levels of spiritual advancement amongst the faithful.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
This Catholic Sacrament obviously is not an absolute requirement for the salvation of the soul. Otherwise, the Catholic Church Administration would be spiritually liable before the Throne of God for all the souls lost as the result of the abysmal Evangelization effort they have put forth in the last 1600 years. (0)
written elsewhere regarding the great merits of the Catholic
Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation contains all the
elements to better assist a
soul in finding and keeping its way
Home. Of course it has been misused and abused by some of
to be at the service of God
(1a), nonetheless, we cannot allow such sad
to destroy something which at its core is an excellent Evangelization
A post Vatican Council II battle cry,
obviously introduced by the
enemies of God and not
by the Council
itself, to demolish the benefits that may be found in the
Sacrament of Reconciliation, is: "I
don't need to confess my sins to a man."
The destructive subtlety hidden in such
position may be found at the
of the psychological make up of a human being:
(1) It is very, very hard for a human being to confess to another human being serious, and not so serious, sins committed, while it is quite easy to "confess" such wrongdoing/sins to a deity about which many speak but few have a deep relationship with. [To truly feel deeply sorrowful and contrite before the presence of God - which is simultaneously crushing and uplifting - is a gift from God granted to very few souls.]
Human psyche can play
tricks on itself and satan will take advantage of that; however, when
we bring up/share/discuss thoughts/ideas/concerns with another human
being (commonly known as "bouncing it off" to then "listen as it
echoes" from the other human being),
if we are playing psychological games with ourselves, they will
quickly be exposed and the spiritual damage averted.
We do not need to launch into a
psychological treatise to
support/prove the above described human condition. It would be as
superfluous as launching into a geophysical treatise to prove to the
reader that the force of gravity exists. This is precisely what
Spiritual Direction is all about - To help a human being
see/dissect/evaluate/expose (not to dictate) the real reasons behind
our thoughts and intentions, thus avoiding becoming a pawn to satan.
What is the Catholic faithful then to do
about the Sacrament of
Reconciliation considering the sad moral
and legal condition that the Roman Catholic Church finds itself
The answer is quite simple: Resort to God! Ask Him to cross your
path with the appropriate confessor or a trusted Spiritual Director. In
case: Prepare yourself and
the confessor/trusted individual through
prayer (2) and
allow God to do His part.
What if you are on the proverbial
"deserted island" without hope to
find any confessor or a trusted individual or one simply does not seem
to appear even while standing in Times Square at rush hour? We must
then assume that such is the Will of God then...
Your burning desire to make amends with
God, through the "proper
channels", and not to be deceived by yourself or the wrong
voluntarily baring your soul to God and seeking His forgiveness and
assistance to prevent you from sinning in the future, will be more than
You will be forgiven, for ultimately,
and to the chagrin of certain Roman
Catholic Administrators who like to "play God" (3), it is God who
grants the forgiveness and
Penitents, take note: "God", as the
saying goes, "was not born
yesterday" and we recommend
no one tries to play games with Him and use the above illumination to
come up with a creative loop hole to avoid the safeguards of
sharing/baring/discussing those "dark secrets" with another human being
in an effort to return to the right path to the Father.
Confessors, take note: For the same reason mentioned above, we recommend highly that no one tries to utilize this "power" for personal gain lest you find out the full meaning of: "It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea...." [Luke 17:1-2]
"Ask and ye shall receive." [John 16:24] There is no greater joy for God, besides the return of the Prodigal Son, than to have His children truly seeking to do His Will by invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even when a "mistake" is made under such guidance, it was not a mistake, per se - God may have allowed it to help His child learn something that could not be learned otherwise and that would serve to avoid greater evils and harm in the future.
Unfortunately, the Church Administrators
have not understood this
The Triune God has allowed mistakes to be
made by the Church
Administration; He has sent His Daughter (of the Father), Mother (of
the Son) and Spouse (of the Holy Spirit) - Mary - to
help them see their errors and correct them. All that we have to
show for as a result of such Heavenly Grace is typified by the likes of
Cardinal Arinze who, at a
in Pittsburgh in July 2004, and in response to a question about
his office prepared a recent
document on communion, he spoke of wide consultation with
bishops and cardinals,
of dozens of drafts and
endless amendments before it was finally
approved by Pope John Paul II. He then finally concluded:
"But it is still a human document. It
does not pretend to be perfect.
So if you find anything that could have been said differently, please
Maybe the Church Administrators should concern themselves as to why the Holy Spirit of God is having such a difficult time getting an inspiration across to them. If they did ask the question, however, the answer would be: "Because you are trying to please men and not God!" [1 Thessalonians 2:4]
Last but not least: If you feel/believe
that satan can interfere
guidance given to you by the Holy Spirit, think twice! You are
ascribing satan greater power than the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
However, how can that illusion
appear to be so, as many times
does? The answer is also quite simple - once God reveals it:
By Divine design man's free will is inviolable - even by God. Therefore, only your will can block the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God; and only a will, subject to satan, even at the subconscious level, would do so. (4)
That certainly explains much
(individually and institutionally)
doesn't it? (5)
Prevention of Scandal Within Church
(a) Scandal that drives the faithful away from God
This example shows how a scandalous
behavior may drive the faithful
away from God OR draw him closer to God; depending on how it is
A religious representative takes sexual advantage of a member of the flock. This may be "transitory" scandal depending on what the religious representative's superior does upon finding out of what has taken place.
If the religious superior immediately
takes action to make the necessary
spiritual amends with the victim and insures that the offender will not
be given another opportunity to do the same, the "transitory" scandal
an "incident" which the victim will easily identify with an individual
and not with an institution or with God. The example of
rectitude and justice set by the superior will ultimately draw the
victim closer to God and the church in question.
(b) Scandal which may neutralize certain church teachings by association with scandalous practice/teaching/example.
Unfortunately, these are of many
varieties. Just a few examples...
2. A declared invalid marriage honored by a Papal visit and Blessing (7);
3. If it is in the best interests of the Church Administration, the endorsement, Blessing and support of murderous dictatorial regimes (far too many to list);
4. The above referenced behavior of Cardinal Arinze - which is reflected through the entire Church Administration;
5. Live in the lap of luxury and preach poverty from the pulpit (8);
6. A thinly disguised priest's girlfriend or boyfriend;
etc. ad nauseum
Scandal resulting from different
levels of spiritual development amongst the faithful.
This is best
exemplified by a passage in
the New Testament. A situation that all of us must be very careful to
since it is not intrinsically evil. Not being intrinsically evil, it is
not "tagged" in our brain as something to avoid because its potential
harm depends on one's company
at the moment.
That is, what you may
do/say in the
company of, say, Mrs. X may be perfectly fine but if you do/say it in
the company of Mr. Y it would convey the wrong
information/teaching/example and cause harm.
Biblical example will
shed much light
a nutshell: Eating meat that may have been offered
to an idol means nothing to a Christian - does not defile nor cause
harm unless "that my brother I may not cause to
stumble" because of a misunderstanding arisen due to "the
brother who is infirm" in the faith.
This is an area within which, at times, feel like a mine field to miguel de Portugal. Through these pages he speaks to a most varied audience - varied in type of Faith or lack thereof, and varied in spiritual development and depth of Faith. He transmits/reflects illumination which may be liberating to some or may be blinding to others - depending on the stage of their spiritual development. Then, what to do? Quit? Of course not!
The answer is the same
that we keep
offering: Resort to God!... and trust that He "modulates the
light" in accordance to each of His children's needs.
(0) What Went Wrong With Christianity?
From the Catechism of the
Roman Catholic Church, 2nd. Edition - Paragraph No.
(2) Before engaging in the Sacrament of
Reconciliation, and before even attempting to make the appropriate
examination of conscience, pray in earnest that the Holy Spirit
of God shows you your real sins and help you to properly express them
to the Confessor. Then entreat the Holy Spirit of God to assist the
Confessor in understanding your communication and, in turn, speak
precisely the words God wants him to. Then, ask Him again to help you
understand, interpret and act upon such words in accordance to His Most
Holy and Adorable Will.
is above all and if a sincere heart approaches Him in such manner,
satan will not be able to interfere.
de Portugal will never
forget a very specific test God subjected him to so that m de Portugal
would be able to prove to Him that he would indeed practiced what he
claimed he believed.
It was in
Fátima and there was a Sanctuary Chaplain about whom m de P had
thought: "He would be the last confessor I would ever go to." One good
day, and without any warning, God tricked m de P into that
Chaplain's confessional. The preparation prayers had been made so m de
P proceeded as if in that Confessional was God Himself. After m de P
had finished listing his sins/transgressions/faults the advice of the
Confessor was: "Now go to the Adoration Chapel and hear what God will
say to you." He then gave him the absolution. m de P went
straight to the Adoration Chapel and, upon entering and after the
appropriate salutation, Jesus did not stop speaking for at least ten
Sacrament of Reconciliation he has ever had!
brothers and sisters, the recommendation being offered here was well
tested that day and it is obviously from God.
(3) The True
(4) Understanding the spiritual mechanism of this situation
(5) How the Church Administration effectively blocks gentle Divine Assistance only to trigger, by default, less gentle Divine intervention.
(6) The Sacrament of Matrimony
(7) Note dated May 22, 2004 in The Sacrament of Matrimony document
(8) Cardinal Law, et al, Life Styles
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