The Reality of Sin; The Importance of Forgiveness

Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic                         2012                                    Province of St.Joseph

Sacraments of Initiation –Reconciliation

The following material is taken from the Luke E. Hart Series Basic Elements of the Catholic Faith, Part II, Section III of Catholic Christianity: What does a Catholic believe? How does aCatholic worship? How does a Catholic live? by Peter Kreeft (General Editor Fr. John A. Farren, O.P., Director of Catholic Information Service), based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church(Copyright © 2001 by Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. All rights reserved.) It isreprinted here as part of the approved Provincial Novitiate Formation Program of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic, Province of St. Joseph with the written permission of the Catholic Information Service, Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.

1. The importance of forgiveness

It is very foolish to fear or resent the authority of the Church, for that authority is the basis on which she forgives our sins.

When he was asked why he became a Catholic, G. K.Chesterton, the great English writer, replied: “To get my sins forgiven.”

Jesus came to earth for that purpose. “You shall call his name Jesus [“Savior”], for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And the Church, since it is his Body, continueshis work. Therefore the Church’s purpose on earth is to extend through time and space this kingdom of forgiveness.

Not just forgiveness, but Christ’s forgiveness. Forgiveness, like the Church herself, is wholly Christocentric.

“After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles ‘so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.’526 The apostles and their successors carry out this‘ministry of reconciliation,’ not only by [1] announcing to menGod’s forgiveness merited for us byChrist, and [2] calling themto conversion and faith; but also by [3] communicating to themthe forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and [4] reconciling them withGod and with the Church through the power of the keys [theSacrament of Penance], received from Christ”527 (Matthew 16:19; 2 Corinthians 5:18; CCC 981).*

How important is forgiveness? Eternally important! “‘Werethere no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be nohope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift’”533 (CCC 983).


2. The need for forgiveness: the reality of sin

Why do we need forgiveness? Because we are sinners.

Sin is life’s greatest problem, for sin is separation from life’s greatest solution, God, the source of all goodness and life and joy.

Sin is real. So is justice. Sin deserves punishment. The fear of divine justice is wise because that justice is true. If it is not, every book of the Bible lies.

*CCC= Catechism of the Catholic Church

The work of Christ and his Church is “the forgiveness of sins.” Not imperfections, or mistakes, or immaturities, but sins. Brain damage is an imperfection, 2+2=5 is a mistake, and“puppy love” is an immaturity; but acts of greed and lust and pride are sins.

But the sense of sin, the conviction of sin, is increasingly absent from modern minds. This is a radically new developmentin the history of Western civilization. Ancient pagans took sin forgranted and doubted salvation; modern pagans take salvation forgranted and deny sin. Our society’s most popular prophets, the pop psychologists, see sin as a superstition, guilt as a mental illness, and “the fear of the Lord” –which Scripture calls “the beginning of wisdom” –as emotional immaturity.

Why is it “the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10)? Because the wisdom of Gospel love presupposes the wisdom of religious fear; the “good news” of the forgiveness of sins presupposes the “bad news” of sins to be forgiven.

In fact, Christ said he did not come for those who do not believe they are sinners: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). If there is no confession of sin, there is no forgiveness and no salvation.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). This is Scripture’s constant assumption. Deny that assumption and everything else in Scripture loses its meaning. The prophets become quaint exaggerations, and Christ’s Incarnation and Crucifixion become unnecessary overreactions.

Click to access ReconciliationKofC-CIS.pdf

To read the remainder of this module click on the link above and keep walking by faith to live in Jesus! And To Live, keep walking by faith in Jesus!


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