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Fascinating Phone Call on EWTN Radio

I was listening to EWTN radio this morning and I heard a fascinating phone call.  The caller asked the DJ (maybe the guest, I tuned in and only heard this call) why he needed to receive a sacrament of Penance before receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.

I was floored, to say the least.

Catholic theology teaches that the sacraments are containers of God’s grace.  When you receive a sacrament, you are essentially taking an outpouring of God’s grace.  The sacrament of Confirmation, however, is more than that.

In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit descends upon you, and bestows his gifts chosen for you to be a faithful worker in God’s kingdom.  Though it isn’t strictly necessary, biblically speaking, I think it is an excellent idea to invite the Spirit to take residence in a clean temple.

I stole that from the DJ or guest, because I liked it.

Now, why didn’t the caller already know that?  You think he would.  I knew the answer right away.  True, I was raised Catholic, but it wasn’t on my Catholic upbringing that I drew for the answer.  Consider the words of Paul regarding the receiving of the Supper:

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)

I should think that anytime we receive a measure of grace from God, we ought to do such a self-examination.  Just because grace is an unmerited favor that God shares with us, we still ought to accept it reverently and with as clean a heart as we are capable of.  Never should we just take it lightly, or we are taking judgment on ourselves.

For the Catholic, that means confession to a priest, and completing a penance for absolution.  That is so small considering the gift of the Holy Spirit that is about to fill you; greater peace and grace isn’t possible here on earth.

But, is this only a Catholic problem?  Nope.  The whole church, Catholic and Protestant, has done an awful job of educating people of the first step of the gospel of our Lord–that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  The world teaches us that we are basically good; we are evolving toward something greater.  Our evolution is merely incomplete, so it’s not our fault when we behave like roughians.

I blame the world for teaching that.  I blame the caller for buying into it, and not submitting to the teaching of the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is one example among many of how far we as Christians have to go to get the gospel message out to a world that needs it now more than ever.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on August 2, 2011, in God, Roman Catholicism, Sin, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. No, Cory dear, sorry. Love comes first, not morality. In the beginning God saw that we were very good and even in our brokenness, with our confused emotions, weakened intellect, traitorous will and disease-prone body (the classic symptoms of the Fall) His eyes can still see the primal innocence He gave us. He does not wait for us to be good before He gives Himself to us in the Sacraments or without them. It is only by discovering His love that we are really able to turn out the attic….

    • True, Sister, but I would think a sincere seeker wants to accept the grace graciously, as it were, and not in an unworthy manner.

      A point I have repeatedly made here is that people don’t seem to grasp the gravity of sin, nor how much God abhors it. This is another example. Not understanding that one should approach God with a worthy spirit is a symptom of a larger problem.

      Now, I approached God with the desire that he make me clean. He has worked on me, but (as the song goes) he’s not finished with me yet. I have a long way to go. But I’m seeking his will, and whenever I receive a measure of his grace, I try not to make light of it but accept it with a gracious spirit and not in an unworthy manner (as the apostle cautions).

      Fortunately, while the ways of man might always seem right to him, God weighs the spirits (Prv 16:2). Jesus didn’t come for those who are already righteous (of course, none really are, but I think our Lord meant those who THINK they’re righteous), Jesus came for the sinners (Mk 2:17).

      Approaching God with humility and accepting his grace in a worthy manner are key to living a life of worship. Worship isn’t meant to be an act, but a lifestyle (another discussion entirely). I just don’t think this caller understood any of that; I think that perhaps (to him) church is just something you “do.” I might be wrong, and I hope I am.

  2. Absolutely. Its perhaps a matter of who you meet. People come to our life who rarely need convincing of their sin! They need help to see they are forgiven and a great deal of affirmation to discover that God thinks they are worthwhile.

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