We take note that the context of sin is moving away from the grace of God which could be washed away by conversion through baptism. Conversion and baptism could be considered as the frame of reference for sins committed after baptism for such sins would have an added weight of knowing that certain acts could be considered as sinful. The role of the priesthood therefore given the notion of apostleship is two fold – maintaining that the flock will not deviate of rule of God by being the confessor that is to hear the sin committed.
This idea is embedded in this passage from James 5:16, “confess our sins to one another” and a logical extension of the authority vested by Christ to the apostles to absolve or retain sin. Opening up and the desire to change is tacitly implied in the verse. Another dimension of confession and asking for forgiveness is the ability to forgive. This clear from a passage Matt. 6:12-15, “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
” In many sense, the logic in the Catholic’s line of thinking is posited on humility. Divulging sins and asking for forgiveness and in turn learning the ability to forgive prepares the individual along the rightful path towards salvation or into a set of behavior which is according to the rule of God, according to the covenant with God. This is clear in a line in the Lord’s Prayer which implied to forgive is to be forgiven.
From such a context of the Catholic belief, it could be seen that the practice of confession is one of the binding fiber of the Catholic Church, forming the fulcrum of relationship between the priests and their parishioners. The Catholic belief system on confession to a priest is essentially scriptural and its core logic is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but nonetheless the strong psychosocial and philosophical on such a practice is recognizable.
The act of confession is highly symbolic and has a strong psychosocial impact on the individual which could be interpreted and attested by those who experienced them as transformational. Personal testimonies of converts therefore become a staple in the complex practice of the Catholic faith. The practice of sharing innermost thoughts and experiences and recognizing of having sinned and seeking relief from the burden of sinning is could be seen as not purely religious but could be interpreted as psychosocial need to reaching out and escape the alienation of straying from a path which could hurt other people.
The teachings of the Christian faith have strong moral and social implications as to the proper and acceptable behavior. To a great extent it protects the weak and helpless. In a community of people who adhere to the basic tenets of the Ten Commandments, an innocent and helpless child who is lost for example will not be killed, nor his possession taken away from him and may be protected and found shelter. Compassion is one of the main attribute of the Christian faith.
The act of confession and absolution of sin through the intercession of a priest in the Catholic conception of the relationship between the parishioner and priest is anchored on the human being’s ability for compassion for his fellow people and even at the level of the symbolic a potent manifestation of person-person relationship. Combining the inherent nature of such a relationship with the conception of reaching to divine for the forgiveness of sins and the act of absolution through Christ intermediaries raises the psychosocial and the symbolic to a religious experience of being touched by the divine.
It would be difficult to pinpoint the nature of a religious experience but even at psychosocial and philosophical point of view the transformational nature of Catholicism is evident. The cross at the time of Jesus Christ was a torture and an execution device but symbolically transform into a symbol of redemption and salvation. A confession is symbolically the same, from a narrative of sins into an account of spiritual cleansing and transformation.