"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Confession and Salvation History

Magento Commerce

October 17th, 2012

Written By: Raphael Ma

“… This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:17

There are a lot of themes in the Bible. One of the few that I have actually come to notice is Jesus’ fulfillment of salvation history. Don’t approach salvation history just as an interested observer – it’s our own history. We should long for what God promises His chosen people, we should be sorrowful about their failures and unfaithfulness. Anything that was promised to us, Jesus brings us. Anything that went wrong with us, Jesus makes right for us.

In this “Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year” plan that I’m following (http://www.chnetwork.org/readguide04.pdf), the first few readings have included the first 4 chapters of Genesis, Psalms 1-4, the first 3 chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, and the Catechism, up to paragraph 25.

The main thing that really goes wrong in these chapters is our relationship with God. After the Creation accounts, there is the account of the Fall, which we are all familiar with. But the Fall of man doesn’t just end with the Original Sin. We continue to fall, and our sins are more, and worse. Cain kills his brother Abel. Lamech kills some young man for striking him. After that… I don’t know, because I haven’t read that far yet…

But I have noticed that one word that does not show up is “sorry”, or “please forgive me”, or anything like it:

“…Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate’
Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’
The woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:11-13

“…Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’
He said, ‘I do not know, am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9

When you read their answers, don’t you just want to say: “COME ON! Why won’t you just tell Him?” Of course, it’s easy to say that to someone else, and tell them how they should be totally honest with God. But we ourselves ought to live by that same standard as well. Adam, Eve, and Cain began on speaking terms with God. Yet by the end of that chapter, it says: “…at that time men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” [Genesis 4:25]. By the time of Lamech’s generation, we no longer naturally speak with God as with a friend anymore. We have to call upon God because we are no longer in constant union with Him.

What does this tell us about the nature of sin? The more we try to justify ourselves, to try and make things right on our own instead of reconciling what went wrong in our relationship with God, the further we fall away from union with God. It doesn’t work. That’s why, when God sends John the Baptist, the first word we hear is: “Repent” [Matthew 3:2].

And we did – “…Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” [Matthew 3:5-6]. Here, the tide slowly begins to turn. Even though John’s baptism is merely a preparation and did not actually take away sins, God’s people, distanced from God by sin, for once honestly confess what we’ve done.

When for the first time in Baptism, or later through the sacrament of Confession, we honestly ask God for forgiveness on His terms, we in a way choose to do the opposite of what Adam and Eve did. And it is only by honestly confessing our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness, that we are finally restored in our relationship with God, and pleasing to Him, like Adam and Eve once were.


Suggested Reading:

Check out our Catechism section

Check out our section on confessionChurch Teaching, Grace, by Catholic Chapter House.

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