. . . and I know that even in the Confessional - it is never the priest who forgives sin - as only GOD forgives sin, but here we see that Jesus did have the power and gave that power to the disciples - the 12 - when he breathed on them - yet before Pentecost - AND THAT POWER WAS PASSED ON for 2000 + years.
John 20:19-23 19* On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21* Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22* And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23* If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Something wonderful happens in the Confessional Box - By Grace your faith takes you there - and by Grace HE meets you there - even if you are not fully confessing - and you always know it - as in not being specific enough - being specific has always been a hard thing to learn - but I have come to love it more and more - the freedom of being specific. To start being specific at 70 is amazing.
Not growing up with specifics, always just talking at the Lord, later walking with the Lord, asking for forgiveness seemed to work. I always knew I did not have to tell him something specifically, as he already knew about my sin. In fact, I used to say, "Well, You know what I mean, Lord!" But now I shudder to think that I missed so much of Confession - not JUST the ABSOLUTION - but the saying and speaking TOTAL TRUTH. SINS SPOKEN IN SPECIFIC TOTAL TRUTH.
Some of this many have never really experienced - but that is one of the gifts to a convert and it is a wonderful gift! To find that we can actually name our sin finally, and specifically, for the first time, that a dear priest, forced to hear it, often almost like drivel, yet loving us, and caring for our time of pouring out our hearts maybe again and again, often the same besetting sins, but still bringing them in, and that dear priest is going to let it go in one ear and out the other directly to GOD who, amazingly enough is in the same booth! Nothing is more wonderful than to know all of this. Even if you have to wait until 70 and frankly, to be specific? I think it is more wonderful at 70 than at any other age of your life.
I remember our first Confession. Tom was 76 and I was 70. We had chosen, for our first Confession, the same priest. We had not discussed it, but when the time came, we both told the other who we had chosen. He was a beautiful black priest from Africa; I followed Tom into the same Confessional when he came out - smiling. Can you imagine the same priest hearing, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. This is my first Confession and I am 76." And the next voice he heard was a female voice saying, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. This is my first Confession and I am 71." Tom and I left the Cathedral that night all but floating. We had no idea what Confession would do to us! We both were over 70 years lighter of sins! I am certain the priest felt it was a job well done as the next thing we heard was he was leaving the San Francisco area. I love being Catholic!