Brian in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, listening
on Catholic.com, your question please for Tim Staples. Hi Tim, I love you
so much. All right! Is this Brian? Yes, this is Brian.
All right Brian, welcome, my friend. Please let me introduce myself first;
I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church, a Protestant church,
but after going to to a Catholic school for four years, I do
really love the Church, so I decided to convert to Catholicism. Fantastic!
Thank you. And I understood how the Church…I understood the reason why the
Church prevented non-Catholics to take Communion; it’s to protect them from
bringing condemnation upon themselves. But when I went to confession and I
said to the priest, “Oh, I’m not Catholic yet, but I want
to be Catholic,” the priest wouldn’t let me to confession with him. So I just wondered why the Church would prevent non-
Catholics like me to go to confession. Didn’t the Church encourage everybody to
go to confession? Right. Yes, and that’s a great question. Brian, the bottom line is
this: in order to receive a sacrament in the Church, you have to be in communion
with Christ and His Church. Now the way that God has has gifted us with
these sacraments, they each have a particular purpose.
Now baptism is the sacrament, along with faith, whereby we enter into Jesus Christ
and His Church if we’re Catholic. And that sacrament gives us, or
opens the door, if you will, to all of the other sacraments in accordance with
our particular calling in life. So unless we’re baptized, for example, we cannot
receive any of the other sacraments because we’re not in Christ yet–we’re
not in his Church–therefore that doorway has not been open to all the other
sacraments. Now, you’re Christian, you’re baptized; however, you’re not in full
communion with the Catholic Church. So while we recognize, Brian, your Christian
baptism–and I’m assuming you are a baptized Christian, Brian? Because you
mentioned you were Presbyterian. Yes. Well, we acknowledge that you are a Christian, but
you’re separated from us. In order to go on to receive another sacrament–even for
a Catholic, as you grow up in the Church, you have to profess faith that
you believe, otherwise you shouldn’t receive the sacrament. You know, we can
sin against faith or against hope as well as against charity. We can commit
sins against chastity as well as sins against faith. For example, if I say “You
know what, I don’t believe the Pope anymore is the Vicar of Christ,” well then
I have no right to receive a sacrament in the Catholic Church, because that’s an
essential teaching that, if I reject, I’m no longer in communion with the Catholic
Church. So it’s not just you, Brian, or folks that are Protestant or
outside of the Catholic faith; anyone that is not truly in communion
with Jesus Christ in his Church cannot receive a sacrament in the Church. Now,
somebody might ask, “Well wait a minute, if you fall into a sin,
though, can’t you go to confession to be re-established?” Absolutely. If you fall
into a sin, let’s say it’s a sin against the sixth commandment, then you’re sorry
for that sin, as a Catholic you go to confession, and God reestablishes you,
or as the Council of Trent said, you are “justified again” and you re-enter into
that full communion with Christ and His Church. But, Brian, if you’re a Protestant
or you’re a Catholic who rejects something that is essential
about the Catholic faith, then you can’t be reestablished into
that full communion because there’s an obstacle, there’s a block there. All right.
But now, Brian, you might ask, “Well, what if I’m a Protestant but I agree with
everything the Catholic Church teaches?” Well, come on in! Talk to the
local parish there, get into the RCIA program, because what the Church
generally–barring danger of death or something, where pretty much the
Church throws law to the wind and gets the grace to someone who professes faith
in the Catholic faith and is in danger of death, but–generally speaking, what the
Church wants you to do is make a commitment so that you show publicly, “Yes,
I am committed to the Catholic Church, I believe in Jesus Christ and in His
Church,” and that’s what happens through the RCIA program, you make that profession.
Kind of like when you’re going to get married, right? You have to go through
classes, and then you publicly profess, “Yes, I am devoted to my now-wife or
soon-to-be wife, I am committed to her for life,” that is what gives you the
right to marry her and then go on to the “consummatum,” or the consummation.
Does that help, Brian? See, the Church wants to know that you are committed, and
you have to do that publicly because, of course, receiving sacraments is not just
a private thing, it’s a public thing. Does that help at all, Brian? Yeah, that helps. And
may I ask a follow-up question? Sure, fire away. So since I’m now in this
situation, what should I do, like,
daily? And after I got confirmed, do I have to profess all
of the mortal sins I committed before my confirmation?
What you need to do, your first confession–and Brian, you’re bringing
back fond memories for me because I am a convert, I came into the Church in 1988,
and what I had to do is confess all of my known mortal sins, at the very least.
I did more than that, I confessed as many venial sins as I
could think of as well, and the Church encourages that though it’s not
absolutely required. But you have to, absolutely required, confess all the known
mortal sins you’ve committed since your baptism. Because, of course, at baptism all
sins–original sin, personal sin, and in fact all punishment due for sin–is gone.
So whether you’re baptized as a Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Catholic–if
it’s a valid baptism, all the sins before that are gone. But you do need to confess
all of the mortal sins that you remember since your baptism. And you’re going to
walk out of that confessional, my friend, and I speak from experience,
feeling about 50 pounds lighter, I guarantee you. Because it’s a glorious
thing, that first confession. But does that help, Brian? Yes, that helps a lot.
Thank you very much. All right.