Andrew Haines is a seminarian for the Diocese of Toledo studying in Rome. His blog In Umbris Sancti Petri is smart and well written and certainly worth following. Don’t take my word for it – see for yourself!
The two bookends of the priesthood—for lack of a more theologically descriptive term—are the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession. Really, it is through offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and hearing the confessions of the faithful that the priest does the greatest work in the salvation of souls and the sanctification of the world. Of these two Sacraments, the most written about is certainly that of the Eucharist, which comes as no real surprise given its primacy as the “source and summit” of the entire Catholic faith. In seeing the beauty of the Eucharist, though, we cannot be unconscious of that beauty which flows just as profoundly from the Sacrament of Confession.
In the ‘economy of salvation’ (or the manner by which God has deemed salvation to be achieved through Christ), one could say that the Eucharist presents to us the opportunity to share fully in Jesus’ Passion, death and Resurrection, while Confession affords us the necessary purification required to approach such an august mystery of redemption. The two function in complete harmony with one another and, although they are no more ‘Sacraments’ than are Baptism or Confirmation, they are certainly the most regularly encountered in the life of the ordinary Catholic. Thus, our understanding and appreciation of both the Eucharist and Confession need to be refined time and again, in order that we might most fully share in the Sacrifice of the Mass every Sunday. Here, we can say a few things about Confession in particular that may provide a little further insight into a Sacrament all too often overlooked.
I will assume that the basics of what Confession is don’t need to be explained—it is the normal means by which serious sin is absolved by the authority of the Church, through the priest acting in persona Christi capitis. Even in this small description, however, if we don’t read carefully, it may seem as though everything is overly-apparent; really, there is more than meets the eye, particularly with regard to the “authority of the Church.” While it is true that this authority subsists in the magisterial teaching of the Church that the remission of sins is in fact possible and real when exercised according to the norms of the Sacrament, what may not be so evident is that the Church—rightly speaking—is something bigger than just the (READ ALL)
See also: Architecture: Our Disposition Toward God