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Bruno Arrow wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Can I confess my sins to a friend and be forgiven by them or can my sins only be forgiven by God through a priest?

Thanks : )

Bruno

  { Can I confess my sins to a friend instead of to a priest and be forgiven; and are swear words sinful? }

Eric replied:

Bruno,

You can only receive sacramental absolution from a priest (or bishop) in the context of the Sacrament of (Reconciliation|Confession). That being said, the only sins that require a priest for forgiveness are mortal sins: sins that are serious in nature and which are done knowingly and with full consent of the will.

For example, if you knew that sex before marriage was a grave sin, and you thought about it ahead of time and decided, Nah, I'm not going to pay attention to that, and then freely committed the act. But even then, there is grace available through this Sacrament for confessing sins that are not mortal which are not available from your friends.

  • Confessing to your friends cultivates a certain degree of humility and natural bonding with them, but we aren't assured it provides grace as we are with the Sacrament of (Reconciliation|Confession).
  • Also your friends aren't bound to secrecy like a priest is, and you can't do it anonymously as you can with the Sacrament of Confession.
  • They also can't provide sound theological advice and may even encourage you to sin.

So there are definite advantages of confessing to a priest.

Eric

Bruno replied:

Thanks Eric!

It's me again.

  • Are swear words sinful?
  • Is saying words like f——k, s——t, etc. considered a sin?
  • And, if so, when could they be, or not be, a sin?

Bruno

Paul replied:

Bruno,

There's no rule set in stone about this but it may be safe to say that the using vulgar verbiage, we commonly call swearing, is a vice or bad habit which could be considered the matter of venial sin, especially when uttered in public among others.

Our words should be pure and uplifting to others. In private, after a shocking occurrence, like hitting your thumb with a hammer, for example, it may not be sinful. Certainly, using the Lord's name in vain, as well as those things and persons related to the sacred Name of God, is more gravely sinful and ought to be confessed sacramentally whenever it occurs.

Peace,

Paul

Bob replied:

Bruno,

Most swear words are only a venial sin, or not sins at all, but when combined within a certain context they can be a grave sin, such as f——k you. That use of the word signifies a verbal assault, wishing ill upon the recipient; it is akin to a curse, hence the name curse words.

Our tongues are meant to bless, not curse, so as a general rule that is what we should aim to do.

  • If you hit your thumb with a hammer and you shout sh—— there is no sin.
  • If you use those words in a way that scandalizes someone, then there is sin.

So not all usage is sinful but it is better to avoid them altogether and thereby avoid scandal.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

After a few private questions from Bruno, Mike replied:

Hey Bruno,

One of the tough things about this apostolate is we are totally blind to the background of our questioner unless they tell us something about themselves.

  • That said, so we can better understand where you are coming from, can you tell us how old you are? and
  • Maybe, where you live in the world?

Please Reply All so we all get your reply.

Thanks!

Mike
AAC Web Admin.

Bruno replied:

Of course!

I am 17-years-old and live in Brazil. (I know . . . not the best place in the world.)

Hope that helps,

Bruno

Bob replied:

Bruno,

You should start a regular practice of going to Confession, perhaps every two weeks. That way you could get to know one or more of the priests and share some of the challenges you are facing.

There are too many different scenarios and we can't address them all. If you have a good priest advise you, you can work through all of these issues.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Bruno replied:

OK,

Thanks!

  • Also, how should we treat insults and mocking?

By that I do not only mean insulting faith but insults in general too:
(e.g. if there are people calling someone else a jerk or fat or small, etc.)

  • How are we to react to such thing?

Thanks,

Bruno

Bob replied:

Bruno,

There will always be people who make living the Christian life difficult; you have to love them anyway, but that doesn't mean letting yourself take unjust abuse without a word.

Jesus suffered and did not open his mouth, but he certainly wouldn't want you to take abuse. You are still very young and must grow to be a man who can defend himself. You then can choose when to suffer silently if you are called to do so, but remember Jesus did so willingly because He had a mission to save souls.

You must be an advocate for yourself and, if necessary, defend yourself. There is no sin in calling out those that are doing wrong to others — in that case, they are the sinners. Jesus called out people all the time so don't think God expects us to be silent when others hurt us.

You can certainly admonish anyone you see abusing others verbally or otherwise.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Bruno replied:

Thanks Bob,

  • But what if I am the one being verbally abused?
  • What should I do if telling them to stop does not work?

Bruno

Bob replied:

Bruno,

  • If it's at work or school, speak to someone in charge
  • if it is friends, find new ones
  • if it's family, get your own place and don't live with them.

In other words, you must assess the situation and do whatever protects yourself.

Peace,

Bob

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