Chapter 4: Reconciliation - Midwest Theological Forum

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Chapter 4: Reconciliation
THE SACRAMENTS – Source of our Life in Christ
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Anticipatory Set
 Read the Parable of the Prodigal Son (p. 107).
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
BASIC QUESTIONS
 What does Jesus reveal in the Parable of the Prodigal Son?
 What is the “second conversion”?
 Who can forgive sins?
KEY IDEAS
 In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Christ reveals that the one true God
is a Father who offers love and forgiveness to his children.
 The effects of Original Sin remain even after Baptism, resulting in the
need for an on-going, life-long “second conversion.”
 Forgiveness of sins before and after Baptism comes through Jesus
Christ who, being God, can forgive sins.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Why did Christ institute the Sacrament of Reconciliation, considering that
Baptism forgives our sins?
Christ knew that even his most sincere followers would sin after Baptism. Therefore,
he instituted this Sacrament and gave his Apostles authority to forgive sins.
What is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Penance?
Jesus Christ, through the ministry of his Church, forgives those sins committed after
Baptism.
What is the key aspect of the nature of God that Jesus reveals in the Parable
of the Prodigal Son?
The one true God is a Father who offers love and forgiveness to his children.
How is God like the father in the parable?
God gives us everything, and, even when we squander our inheritance, he always
welcomes us back with open arms and calls our brothers and sisters to celebrate our
return.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Guided Exercise
Class discussion on “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.”
 Do you completely agree with the actions of any of the characters in the Parable:
father, younger son, or older son?
 How is God like the father, and how are we like the two brothers?
 Who do you think you are the most like, the younger brother or the older brother?
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
What is the nature of the first sin?
By eating of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve questioned the
justice of God and chose to be their own arbiters of right and wrong.
They placed their own will before that of God.
What is the effect of Baptism on Original Sin?
Baptism cleanses the soul of Original Sin (i.e., restores sanctifying grace
to the soul), as well as all personal sins, and turns us back towards God.
However, we still experience the consequences of Original Sin in a fallen
human nature that is weakened and inclined to evil (concupiscence).
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Guided Exercise
Read (1) the second paragraph under “The First Sin,” beginning, “As
a result,” and (2) no. 405 from the CCC, and then list in bullet-point
form the effects of Original Sin.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
What does Isaiah foretell and the angel confirm to St. Joseph about the
Messiah?
The Messiah will save his people from their sins.
How did Jesus scandalize the scribes and Pharisees?
By associating himself with sinners and claiming to forgive them.
Why did the scribes and Pharisees consider Jesus’ claim of forgiveness of sins
blasphemous?
They correctly understood that only God can forgive sins. If Jesus claimed to forgive
sins, he was claiming to be God. Therefore, if he was not God, then he must be a
blasphemer.
What sign did Jesus give to his critics to show that he really could forgive sin?
To show he could forgive sin, which could not be seen, Christ healed the paralytic
man, something they could see.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Closure
Write a paragraph explaining why we need the forgiveness of sins,
even after Baptism.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Homework Assignment
Reading:
 Pp. 109-113.
Questions:
 Questions: 1-5; 16-17.
 Workbook: 1-13.
1. The Prodigal Son and the
Forgiveness of Sins (pp. 106-109)
Alternative Assessment
Free write on the character in the Parable of the Prodigal Son with
whom you most relate.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Anticipatory Set
 Why would grave sins be fairly uncommon in the first centuries of
Christianity, given the status of this religion in Judaism and in the
Roman Empire?
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
BASIC QUESTIONS
 When did Christ institute the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
 How was the Sacrament of Penance celebrated in the early Church?
 How did private confession come about?
 What is an indulgence?
KEY IDEAS
 Christ gave St. Peter and the Apostles his power to forgive sins, which they passed
on to the bishops they ordained.
 The earliest form of the Sacrament of Reconciliation was public confession,
followed by public penance, followed by public absolution, and was usually received
only once in a lifetime and only for particularly grave sins.
 The Irish monks introduced the common form of penance we celebrate today with
private confession and absolution, followed by private penance; this rite could be
repeated as often as needed.
 An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin that has
already been forgiven.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
When do we first see Jesus imparting his divine authority to forgive sins?
When Christ gives St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven with power to
bind and loose.
When do we first hear of keys as a sign of granting one’s authority to
another to act as his steward in his absence?
In Isaiah 22:22, Eliakim is made steward of Judah and Jerusalem and given the
“key of the house of David: he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall
shut, and none shall open.”
How are Christ’s words similar to God’s words to Eliakim?
In Matthew 16:19, Christ says to St. Peter, “I will give you the keys of the
kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
What is the difference between the keys given to Eliakim and those given
to St. Peter?
Eliakim’s keys were for the earthly city of Jerusalem while St. Peter’s are for the
New Jerusalem—the Church.
What is the second indication in the Scriptures of the authority to forgive
sins?
Christ extended this power to all the Apostles the evening after his Resurrection
when he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are
forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
What evidence was there that St. Peter and the Apostles had the authority
to actually forgive sins?
Just as Christ used physical healing to demonstrate he had the divine power to
forgive sins, he also gave the power to heal to St. Peter and the Apostles.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Was the power to forgive sins limited to the Apostles alone?
No. Christ intended the Apostles to pass it on to their successors.
How did the Apostles pass on their powers?
Through Apostolic Succession, that is, through the Sacrament of Holy
Orders.
Who has the primary authority to forgive sins?
The bishop has primary authority. Priests cooperate with him in this
ministry.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
HISTORY OF THE SACAMENT OF PENANCE
Has the Sacrament of Reconciliation always been celebrated in exactly the
same way?
No. It evolved during the first centuries of the Church.
What do we know about the practice of the Sacrament of Penance in the
New Testament?
Sts. Matthew, Paul, and James urged members of the Church to confess their sins
to one another and to avoid contact with those members of the Church who
were guilty of serious sins.
How was the Sacrament of Penance celebrated in the early Church?
A grave sinner would publicly confess his or her sin before the bishop, the
bishop would impose a penance, and, once the penance was completed, the
bishop would publicly pronounce absolution. Then the sinner would be
welcomed back into the community.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Guided Exercise
Have the students complete the following table to organize their knowledge of the
Sacrament of Penance as practiced in the early Church.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
RECONCILIATION IN THE IRISH AND BRITISH CHURCH
What new form for celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation was developed
by the Irish monks?
The Irish monks developed a form of Reconciliation that was private and repeatable.
The penitent’s sins were confessed in private with absolution given at the same time.
The penance was done later.
Why did private penances vary in intensity?
The Penance was determined by the gravity of the sin and the circumstances of the
person who committed it. For example, if a priest and a peasant committed the same
sin, the priest would receive a harsher penance.
How did private celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation become the
norm in the western Church?
Irish missionaries evangelized Northern Europe and brought this form of penance
with them.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Guided Exercise
Mini-lecture on how confession of sins is an inherent consequence
of Christ’s institution of this Sacrament.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
How do we remove the “inordinate attachment to created things
that distorts the image of Christ in our souls”?
Through acts of penance on earth or in Purgatory after death.
Why is penance necessary?
We must be perfected before we enter into the presence of God in
Heaven. A soul with the stain of sin or owing satisfaction for sins already
forgiven must be purified either on earth or in Purgatory before entering
Heaven.
What is the proper motivation for undertaking penances?
We desire to repair our relationship with God and our neighbor, which we
have damaged through sin.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
In the first centuries of the Church, when the Sacrament of Reconciliation was
celebrated publicly, how could an indulgence be applied to shorten one’s penance?
If a person was assigned to fast for one year, for example, this period of time could be
shortened by making a pilgrimage to a Christian shrine.
What are the two kinds of indulgences?
Plenary and partial.
Why are most indulgences partial?
One of the conditions of receiving a plenary indulgence is the complete detachment from
all sin. It is rare for a person to be completely detached from all deliberate sin.
What is the result of a person receiving a plenary indulgence?
If a person died after receiving a plenary indulgence (i.e., free from all attachment to sin),
he or she would go straight to Heaven with no time of further purgation or purification in
Purgatory.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Closure
Write a paragraph contrasting the public and private forms of the
Sacrament of Reconciliation in the early Church.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Homework Assignment
Reading:
 Pp. 114-117.
Questions:
 Questions: 18-23; 47-49.
 Workbook: 14-29.
2. The Origin and Early Forms of
Penance (pp. 109-113)
Alternative Assessment
Free write on how the practice of the Catholic Faith might be
different if all confession of sins had to be public as in the first
centuries of the Church.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Anticipatory Set
Come up with concrete acts you consider wrong but not seriously so,
and acts which are seriously wrong.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
BASIC QUESTIONS
 Why are we morally responsible for our actions?
 What is sin?
 What does every sin do to our relationship with God?
 What are venial and mortal sins?
KEY IDEAS
 Because we have reason and free will, we are personally responsible for our
good and bad actions and the effects they have on ourselves and others.
 Every sin violates the eternal and natural laws and is a form of idolatry.
 Our sins personally damage our relationship with God.
 Sins can be venial, damaging but not destroying our relationship with God, or
mortal, depriving us of sanctifying grace and destroying our relationship with
God. Mortal sins must be confessed.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
What are the positive and negative consequences of free will on our
relationship with God?
We can freely respond to God’s love by loving him in return, sharing in his act of
creation, and having a personal relationship with him. Alternatively, we can
deliberately make a choice in opposition to God’s moral law and his wisdom.
How does sin damage the sinner?
It damages our relationship with God, weakens our will, and clouds our intellect.
How does sin harm others?
Every sin hurts others, either directly, such as in stealing from others, or
indirectly, by giving our neighbor bad example. Even our “secret” sins hurt
others, because they change us for the worse, and therefore, negatively affect our
relationship with others.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
What is a sin?
A sin is any act, word, or desire that violates eternal law.
What is eternal law?
It is the law of God that directs all creation according to God’s divine
wisdom.
How is man perfected or degraded?
We are perfected by freely conforming our actions to the eternal law, and
we are degraded by freely rejecting that law.
What is the natural law?
It is the eternal law as applied to human conduct. Extension: Natural law
is usually defined as man’s participation in the eternal law.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
What are the two sources of the natural law?
Reason and Divine Revelation.
Where are the ultimate expressions of the natural law in Divine
Revelation?
The ultimate expression of natural law can be found in the Ten
Commandments and in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Why is sin a form of idolatry condemned by the First
Commandment?
God is supposed to be first in our lives. Every sin is a disordered love of
creatures over God. It is disordered because we want the supposed good,
which we think that a created thing will give us, more than we want the
ultimate good, which is God.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Guided Exercise
Perform a paragraph shrink on the paragraph beginning, “Any
thought, word, or action” (p. 115).
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Guided Exercise
Work with a partner to illustrate CCC 1849―1850 by completing the following
graphic using a concrete sin of your choosing.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
SIN DAMAGES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
How did Adam and Eve’s behavior reveal they had damaged their relationship
with God?
They hid themselves from God.
How does the Old Testament prophet Hosea portray the sin of the nation of
Israel?
He said Israel is like a wife who commits adultery against her husband.
How does sin become a personal offense against God in the New Testament?
Christ became man and suffered his passions for the actual―not theoretical―sins of
man. Our actual, personal sins are the cause of his actual, personal suffering and
Crucifixion.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
What are the three conditions for committing a mortal sin?
The act must involve serious matter; one must have full knowledge, i.e., know it
is seriously wrong; and one must have complete consent, i.e., freely commit the
act or allow it to happen.
If the first condition is not present, what is the sin?
It is a venial sin.
Who ultimately decides if a sin is mortal or venial?
God.
What should we assume, if we are not sure a sin is mortal or venial?
Assume it is a mortal sin and confess it.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
What is the effect of a mortal sin?
It is a willful separation from God and sanctifying grace. If one dies in a state of
mortal sin, it will result in eternal separation from God.
What is the name for freely-chosen eternal separation from God?
Hell.
What are ways in which venial sins can be forgiven outside of Sacramental
Confession?
Repentance, acts of contrition, prayer, works of charity, reception of Holy
Communion, and participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass forgive venial
sins.
How are a Catholic’s mortal sins forgiven?
Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Closure
Write a paragraph defining sin using the three definitions offered in this
lesson (against eternal law; against natural law; idolatry) using at least one
example for illustration.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Homework Assignment
Reading:
 Pp. 118-120.
Questions:
 Questions: 6-15.
 Workbook: 30-40.
 Practical Exercises: 1-2.
3. Personal Responsibility for Sin (pp. 114-117)
Alternative Assessment
Free write on the following prompt. Then share responses.
It is better to have free will and to be morally responsible for our actions—even
though we can sin—than to not have free will.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Anticipatory Set
Scan pages 118-120, and then identify and list the steps to make a
good Confession.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
BASIC QUESTIONS
 What are the components of a good Confession?
 What are the two types of contrition?
 How must mortal sins be confessed?
KEY IDEAS
 The steps to making a good Confession are examination of conscience,
sorrow for sins, purpose of amendment and the resolution to avoid
sins in the future, actual confession of sins, the act of contrition, and
penance or satisfaction.
 Perfect or imperfect contrition are both valid forms of expressing
sorrow for sins.
 Mortal sins must be confessed in kind, number, and sufficient detail.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
What is an examination of conscience?
It is a review of your moral conduct since your last confession. It includes acts
(thoughts, words, actions, and omissions) and intentions.
What is a good template to use in examining one’s conscience?
The Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Church.
Can there be forgiveness of sin without sorrow?
No.
What can we do if we have a hard time seeing what is wrong about a
particular sin?
Reflect on our sins and their true consequences, including how Christ has
suffered for them. Also, a person can seek spiritual direction or counsel from a
priest over these concerns.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Is sorrow, or contrition, primarily a feeling?
No. Sorrow is primarily a judgment of the will that one has done wrong.
What is perfect contrition?
It is sorrow for sin out of love for God.
What is imperfect contrition?
It is sorrow for sin out of fear of punishment.
Are both kinds of contrition valid?
Yes, even though perfect contrition is better in the same way as love is superior to
fear.
What is scrupulosity?
It is the error of judging something evil when it is not.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Guided Exercise
Work with a partner to perform a paragraph shrink on the paragraph
on “Purpose of Amendment.”
Then answer the following question:
 If you have looked at pornography, what might be included in your purpose of
amendment?
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Why should you mention how long it has been since your last confession?
It helps the priest understand your situation better.
To what degree of specificity must you confess your sins?
It is a balance between not being vague to hide what you did and offering
unnecessary details. You should confess your sins with sufficient detail to allow
the priest to assess the gravity of your sins and to offer advice on how you can
avoid these sins in the future
Why must you confess mortal sins in kind and number?
The priest can make a true assessment of your sins. For example, stealing one
dollar from your mother’s purse on one occasion is different from stealing twenty
dollars from your employer on ten occasions.
Why is it good to identify the root of our sin and then expand upon it?
Identifying the root of a sin helps us overcome it.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
How does the Act of Contrition on page 120 include both perfect and
imperfect contrition?
Imperfect contrition is expressed in the words, “because I dread the loss of
heaven and the pains of hell.” Perfect contrition is shown in the words, “most of
all, because they offend you my God, who are all good and deserving of my love.”
How do the words of absolution involve the Trinity and the Church?
God the Father has reconciled the world to himself. He has done this through the
Passion of his Son. He has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of
sin. The Church is the minister of this Sacrament.
When the priest pronounces the words of absolution, in whose Person is he
speaking?
In the Person of Christ. This is why the priest says, “I absolve you…” in the Latin
Rite.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Guided Exercise
Think/Pair/Write/Share on the following question:
 What actions should we undertake to complete the satisfaction for our sins?
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Closure
Work with a partner to judge the nature of the sins presented in
Practical Exercise 3 (p. 128).
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Homework Assignment
Reading:
 Pp. 121-123.
Questions:
 Questions: 32-36; 39-40.
 Workbook: 41-49.
 Practical Exercise 3.
4. Making a Good Confession (pp. 118-120)
Alternative Assessment
Examination of conscience (page 119).
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Anticipatory Set
Read and discuss the story of St. Nepomucene (p. 124), a martyr for
the sacramental seal in Confession.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
BASIC QUESTIONS
 Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and what is his
obligation?
 Why does the Church require and recommend Confession?
 What is penance and its role in the Christian life?
KEY IDEAS
 The minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a bishop or priest who is
bound by the “seal of Confession” never to reveal what he has heard in
Confession.
 Both confession of mortal sins and frequent confession of venial sins give the
penitent many graces and benefits, including the forgiveness of sin and a closer
identification with Christ.
 Penance—voluntary self-denial through mortification, prayer, and almsgiving—
is necessary for growth in the Christian life.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
A bishop or priest.
How can a bishop or priest forgive sins?
Christ granted his Apostles the authority to forgive sins in his name, and
the bishop or priest is the means through which Christ forgives the
penitent.
What is the “seal of confession”?
The “seal of confession” prohibits the confessor from revealing anything
told him in Confession under pain of excommunication.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Why has the Church created the seal of confession?
It encourages people to confess their sins without fear.
What is spiritual direction?
It is a means of forming one’s soul, often done in confession. A spiritual
director helps a person to make progress in his or her spiritual life.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Guided Exercise
Think/Pair/Share on the following question:
 Even though God can forgive sins outside the Sacrament of Reconciliation, why
is it important for Catholics to use this Sacrament regularly?
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
What is the consequence of dying in a state of grace?
Eternal life with God.
Why is it wrong to receive Holy Communion while in a state of
mortal sin?
That would be another mortal sin, that of sacrilege.
How does the Church view frequent confession of non-mortal sins?
She encourages frequent confession for the benefits that it bestows on
our spiritual lives.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Guided Exercise
Pick one benefit of frequent confession and free write on it for five
minutes.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
How can one do penance through prayer?
Prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures, called lectio divina, the Liturgy
of the Hours, the Rosary, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and meditating
on the lives and writing of the saints are recommended forms of prayer.
Why has the Church established days and seasons of penance?
We need penance to grow in our Christian life.
What is the main season of penance the Church has established?
The season of Lent.
What is mortification?
It is voluntary self-denial to helps us to die to ourselves and live for
Christ.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
What is almsgiving?
It is another form of penance in which we exercise charity by giving of
our time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of others.
What regulations for fasting are binding on teenagers?
All who are fourteen or older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday
and every Friday of Lent. All who are eighteen or older must fast on Ash
Wednesday and Good Friday, in addition to abstaining from meat on Ash
Wednesday and every Friday of Lent, as well as making some act of selfdenial on all other Fridays of the year.
How does the Church define the minimum fast on fast days?
One full meal and two half meals, along with abstaining from meat.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Closure
Write a paragraph explaining the reasons why the Church wants the
faithful to go to Confession.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Homework Assignment
Questions:
 Questions: 24-31; 37-38; 41-46.
 Workbook: 50-63.
5. The Benefits of Confession (pp. 121-123)
Alternative Assessment
Write a paragraph responding to a friend who doesn’t want to go to
Confession, explaining why it is a good idea for him or her to go.
The End

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