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Offline Kuriakose

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Priests and Absolution
« on: July 24, 2010, 08:24:34 PM »
I have a question. Why can a priest give absolution. When Jesus is only mediator.

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2010, 08:43:04 PM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  Absolution is given through him just as the grace of God is dispensed through the Church and the priest has been called to serve Christ's Church.  The western tradition of confession and absolution has no similar verbiage, at least to my mind.  In Latin, the priest would say "Ego te absolvo" (I absolve you).  I believe that many people concentrate on those three words which lead to such questions as what you posed.  To say that the priest is forgiving sins  doesn't take into account the totality of the rite.
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2010, 08:49:23 PM »
John 20:23

Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The apostles, their successors, and indeed the presbyters which represent them must have some authority over sins, otherwise this verse does not make much sense.

Offline jnorm888

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2010, 08:49:51 PM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  Absolution is given through him just as the grace of God is dispensed through the Church and the priest has been called to serve Christ's Church.  The western tradition of confession and absolution has no similar verbiage, at least to my mind.  In Latin, the priest would say "Ego te absolvo" (I absolve you).  I believe that many people concentrate on those three words which lead to such questions as what you posed.  To say that the priest is forgiving sins  doesn't take into account the totality of the rite.

I could be wrong, but I think the Slavonic Rite has the same wording as the Latin Rite.
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2010, 08:58:39 PM »

Question:  Why do you confess sins to a priest?  Only God can forgive sins.

Answer:  Only God can forgive sins, but Christ has decided to do this by giving this authority to the Apostles and their successors - the bishops, presbyters (priests) they ordain.  He told the Apostles -

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, and if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (Jn 20:23) Among other things, Confession is to the Church, not only to Christ.  Our sins offend the fellowship of believers, not only God.  Onerous and persistent sins lead to our excommunication from the church.  Return to the fold requires repentance.  The Church is represented by the priest.  Therefore, confession is made to him for readmission.

Mt. 9:6-8 says that "men" (plural) have received authority from God to forgive sins (not only Christ).  St Paul considered himself to have this authority (1 Cor. 5:1-5) - he excommunicated a certain sinner (placed him outside the church, thereby depriving him of health) in hope that the sinner's soul would be saved at the time of the final judgement.  St Paul says he forgives someone "in the person of Christ" (2 Cor. 2:10).


On the basis of what Orthodoc has quoted above, I see no reason for the Greek Orthodox to have qualms about the Russian-Slav absolution forumula.  It is quite in line with this Greek explanation and with the quoted words of our Saviour to His Apostles when he gave them authority to forgive or retain sins.

It says, quite clearly, that the priest is exercising his authority to forgive sin on the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is perfectly in line with the answer above.

Also, I think Cleveland wrote that the priest should make mention of his own sinfulness and this too is covered by the Slav formula:


"May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and
compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child (Name) all thy sins
(so far it is deprecative but now it becomes indicative)

"and I an unworthy priest, through the authority given unto me by Him,
do forgive and absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."



Offline Kuriakose

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2010, 09:28:28 PM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  Absolution is given through him just as the grace of God is dispensed through the Church and the priest has been called to serve Christ's Church.  The western tradition of confession and absolution has no similar verbiage, at least to my mind.  In Latin, the priest would say "Ego te absolvo" (I absolve you).  I believe that many people concentrate on those three words which lead to such questions as what you posed.  To say that the priest is forgiving sins  doesn't take into account the totality of the rite.

If the priest has no power to forgive sins, but only God alone, why is it necessary to go to a priest?  The tearing of the curtain of Herod's temple at the Crucifixion of Jesus gave us the ability to go directly in the presence of God.  Paul says that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ.  How does this fit into the context of absolution?

Offline katherine 2001

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2010, 09:42:13 PM »
The Church has never practiced confession to God alone.  In the New Testament, people confessed their sins in front of the entire church.  In the OT, David wasn't reconciled to God (nor healed), until he confessed his sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba and sending her husband off to war to be killed before Nathan. 

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2010, 09:56:48 PM »

I find that one often doesn't realize the gravity of one's own sins.

However, when forced to disclose them before another (priest) they take on new meaning.

The priest acts as a doctor for our soul.  He hears our most inner thoughts, and fears and insecurities.  He alone (of humans) is aware of what we are going through, and he can therefore, prescribe a cure.

For example, I go to Confession and I say that I stole something.  I say I am sorry, I repent, etc.  I get absolution.

I come back next week, and I say the same thing, again.  The priest might give me a bit of lecture, etc.

I come back the following week, and again I have stolen.  The priest now realizes it was not a one time thing, but, I have a problem.  He will suggest various methods for me to be "cured" of this bad behavior - prayers, good deeds, reading Scripture, etc.

Finally, if I continue with the same sin, he may actually deny me Holy Communion until I have mended my ways.  Denial of the Holy Sacraments isn't meant as a punishment, but, a time to heal, and make yourself worthy to receive the prescious Gifts.

Does that make sense?

Even while physcially on Earth, Christ had his disciples healing people, and banishing demons, ...

Mark 9:28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, "Why could we not drive it out?"
Mark 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

From the above statement, it is clear that the disciples had been driving out evil spirits from people, and had in this intance encountered a rather stubborn demon, whom Christ expelled.  Therefore, we see that Christ did entrust His flock to His disciples.  We are still His flock, and our clergy are His Disciples.



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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2010, 10:01:21 PM »
Finally, if I continue with the same sin, he may actually deny me Holy Communion until I have mended my ways.  Denial of the Holy Sacraments isn't meant as a punishment, but, a time to heal, and make yourself worthy to receive the prescious Gifts.

It also would reflect that your actions have cut you off from God, and that you are in danger of damnation.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2010, 10:34:50 PM »
It's upon the foundation of James 5:13-18 that we confess our sins to one another and not to God alone.  The key verse in this passage is Verse 16, which reads as follows:

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2010, 10:35:01 PM by PeterTheAleut »
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2010, 12:25:58 AM »
I have a question. Why can a priest give absolution. When Jesus is only mediator.

You could essentially ask the same question about all of the sacramental functions of a priest.  :-\
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2010, 12:27:23 AM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  Absolution is given through him just as the grace of God is dispensed through the Church and the priest has been called to serve Christ's Church.  The western tradition of confession and absolution has no similar verbiage, at least to my mind.  In Latin, the priest would say "Ego te absolvo" (I absolve you).  I believe that many people concentrate on those three words which lead to such questions as what you posed.  To say that the priest is forgiving sins  doesn't take into account the totality of the rite.

If the priest has no power to forgive sins, but only God alone, why is it necessary to go to a priest?  The tearing of the curtain of Herod's temple at the Crucifixion of Jesus gave us the ability to go directly in the presence of God.  Paul says that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ.  How does this fit into the context of absolution?

You have a Protestant propagandist whispering in your ear?
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2010, 12:50:52 AM »
If the priest has no power to forgive sins, but only God alone, why is it necessary to go to a priest?  The tearing of the curtain of Herod's temple at the Crucifixion of Jesus gave us the ability to go directly in the presence of God.  Paul says that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ.  How does this fit into the context of absolution?

If you sin against me, then do I have the "power" to forgive you?

Offline Theophilos78

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2010, 06:24:28 AM »
The sacrament of reconciliation is the visual sign of our repentance and wish for forgiveness. We sinners are reconciled not only with God, but also with His Church, the community of the believers.

When Apostle Paul said: "Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man", he meant that Jesus was the only Savior that could accomplish our redemption from sin and death and could give us the divine grace He had received from the Father. This doctrine did not prevent the apostles from working miracles in Jesus' name. After reading the accounts of the miracles wrought by the apostles in Acts, one can ask the questions: "Why did those apostles perform miracles and heal people when Jesus was the only mediator between God and mankind? Why did Jesus not heal those people directly?"
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Offline jnorm888

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2010, 01:07:03 AM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  Absolution is given through him just as the grace of God is dispensed through the Church and the priest has been called to serve Christ's Church.  The western tradition of confession and absolution has no similar verbiage, at least to my mind.  In Latin, the priest would say "Ego te absolvo" (I absolve you).  I believe that many people concentrate on those three words which lead to such questions as what you posed.  To say that the priest is forgiving sins  doesn't take into account the totality of the rite.

If the priest has no power to forgive sins, but only God alone, why is it necessary to go to a priest?  The tearing of the curtain of Herod's temple at the Crucifixion of Jesus gave us the ability to go directly in the presence of God.  Paul says that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ.  How does this fit into the context of absolution?

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"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”




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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2010, 04:18:18 AM »
If the priest has no power to forgive sins, but only God alone, why is it necessary to go to a priest?  The tearing of the curtain of Herod's temple at the Crucifixion of Jesus gave us the ability to go directly in the presence of God.  Paul says that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ.  How does this fit into the context of absolution?

If you sin against me, then do I have the "power" to forgive you?

Interesting

Offline danman916

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2010, 12:30:15 PM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  

Does anyone know if the rite is available online?

Can someone also telle me if confession is always to one's priest, or can confession be to another person who is unordained? If so, how does that work in terms of receiving absolution from the priest?

thanks

Offline Fr.Kyrillos

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2010, 12:54:14 PM »
For those interested, this is the absolution prayer in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The priest usually prays this facing the penitent and placing the hand cross on top of their bowed head:

Quote
O Master, Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son and Logos of God the Father, who has broken every bond of our sins through His saving, life-giving sufferings; who breathed into the face of His holy disciples and saintly apostles, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

You also now, O our Master, have given grace through Your holy apostles to those who for a time labor in the priesthood in Your holy church to forgive sin upon the earth and to bind and to loose every bond of iniquity.

Now also we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of Mankind, for Your servant (name of penitent), and my weakness, those who bow their heads before Your holy glory.

Dispense to us Your mercy and loose every bond of our sins, and, if we have committed and sin against You knowingly or unknowingly, or through anguish of heart, or in deed or word, or from faintheartedness, O Master who know the weakness of men, as a Good One and Lover of Mankind, O God, grant us the forgiveness of our sins, bless us, purify us, absolve us, and all Your people.

Fill us with Your fear and straighten us for Your holy good will, for You are our God, and the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the worship are due unto You, with Your good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, who is of one essence with You, now and at all times and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

God bless,
Fr. Kyrillos


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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2010, 03:36:03 PM »
If you read the rite of Confession for Eastern Rite Christians., you will note that the priest says very clearly that "I, a sinner, have no power to forgive sins, but God alone."  

Does anyone know if the rite is available online?

Can someone also telle me if confession is always to one's priest, or can confession be to another person who is unordained? If so, how does that work in terms of receiving absolution from the priest?

thanks

I have heard that a common practice in monasteries is for a monastic to confess to his/her spiritual father/mother, who may be unordained--in the case of a spiritual mother, it's obvious she's not ordained.  Afterward, the priest will be notified that confession was made and will then read the prayers of absolution over the penitent.
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Offline kansas city

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2010, 04:14:00 PM »
Does anyone know if there is  precedent for confession to deacons then absolution by priest?  Perhaps situationally with the blessing of a bishop?

As well, would penance be given by the deacon or priest?


*Edited for additional question.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2010, 04:14:41 PM by kansas city »

Offline danman916

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2010, 04:34:11 PM »
Well, as far as I know, there was a precedent, very early on, of anointing being done by deacons and even the blessed oil being kept in the home for personal use.

Offline Kuriakose

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2010, 05:03:56 PM »
Okay I understand the forgiving one another of sins committed directly against each other, but how exactly can the priest forgive the sins of another who has hasn't sinned against him? I understand that it hurts the fellowship (i.e. you have hurt God & therefore me) & that we can forgive the hurt we feel, but how can we remit sins not committed against us?

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2010, 05:16:53 PM »
It is always God who forgives sins, through the priest (who, from the Apostles, has the power to loosen and bind sins, as the Lord gave it to them). The priest is a witness to one's confession and repentance. It's not magic. One can confess all one wants and be absolved, but if one doesn't really repent, one still has to answer for it. When we sin, it is against God, primarily. Of course, if another person is hurt, we need to ask that person for forgiveness as well.
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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2010, 05:26:44 PM »
For those interested, this is the absolution prayer in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The priest usually prays this facing the penitent and placing the hand cross on top of their bowed head:

Quote
O Master, Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son and Logos of God the Father, who has broken every bond of our sins through His saving, life-giving sufferings; who breathed into the face of His holy disciples and saintly apostles, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

You also now, O our Master, have given grace through Your holy apostles to those who for a time labor in the priesthood in Your holy church to forgive sin upon the earth and to bind and to loose every bond of iniquity.

Now also we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of Mankind, for Your servant (name of penitent), and my weakness, those who bow their heads before Your holy glory.

Dispense to us Your mercy and loose every bond of our sins, and, if we have committed and sin against You knowingly or unknowingly, or through anguish of heart, or in deed or word, or from faintheartedness, O Master who know the weakness of men, as a Good One and Lover of Mankind, O God, grant us the forgiveness of our sins, bless us, purify us, absolve us, and all Your people.

Fill us with Your fear and straighten us for Your holy good will, for You are our God, and the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the worship are due unto You, with Your good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, who is of one essence with You, now and at all times and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

God bless,
Fr. Kyrillos



Thank you for that, Father.
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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Priests and Absolution
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2010, 05:35:51 PM »
Okay I understand the forgiving one another of sins committed directly against each other, but how exactly can the priest forgive the sins of another who has hasn't sinned against him? I understand that it hurts the fellowship (i.e. you have hurt God & therefore me) & that we can forgive the hurt we feel, but how can we remit sins not committed against us?

First of all, welcome to the forum Kuriakose!

I would think that the first obstacle that we must overcome is what we mean by "sin." Is it a transgression against a law of God or is it "falling short of the mark" in meeting God's wishes regarding us (could be a transgression but it can also be not progressing in becoming more fully a child of His).

If our sin is such a serious one that we have alienated ourselves from communion with His Body, a reconciliation must take place; hence, formal confession, penance and absolution through a representative of the Body on earth--the Church here on earth. Aside from the fact that the Scriptures command us to confess our sins to one another (see Peter's post) and specifically authorizes bishops and priest to bind or loose sins (see many other posts), psychologists tell us that talking to a third party can be very beneficial. So, this all makes sense from scientific, ecclesiastic, and theological perspectives.

On the other hand, if your sins are minor in nature, the Church does provide us with the Divine Liturgy, which combines pre-communion preparation (fasting on Wednesday and Friday, as well as from Saturday midnight on; praying daily, as well as on Wednesday and Saturday nights, and Sunday morning before the Liturgy) as well as the same pre-communion confession and asking for forgiveness that are prayed by the clergy during the Liturgy.