Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor's December 1996

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Christ Jesus some two thousand years ago came into this world to bring redemption for our sins. He did this through his death and resurrection, or what we refer to as the pascal mystery. We still encounter the saving presence of the Lord in the sacraments and in the Word. In each and every sacrament we come face to face with 'the grace of God our Savior' (Titus 2:11). It is this redemption of sins aspect of the sacraments that I will be examine. In the past couple of century we have focused are attention primarily on the Sacrament of Penance as the means to obtain forgiveness of sins after Baptism. We have come to focus on it so much that it has come to be, for most Catholics, understood as the only sacrament though which forgiveness of sins is obtained. This belief as we will see is an incorrect understanding because we encounter the saving presence of the Lord in other sacraments and ways not only in the Sacrament of Penance. However the Sacrament of Penance is always to be understood as the primary sacrament for forgiveness of mortal sins after Baptism.

To better understand how this can be let us first look at the general background of the development of the Sacrament of Penance. The Sacrament of Penance has it's roots even as far back as the day of resurrection when Christ breathed out the spirit on the disciples and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained.' (John 20:22-23). In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians we see Paul developing this teaching of Christ, when he says 'All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and...