Christian Reconciliation

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Key language

  • Sin= An offence against God
  • Mortal sins= Sins that are so serious they can be forgiven only through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Venial sins= Lesser sins that everyone commits
  • Fogiveness= The act of pardoning people for what they have done and not holding it against them.
  • Pentitent= Someone who is sorry for what they have done.

The sacrament of reconciliation

  • Reconciliation is the sacrament by which we, repenting and confessing our sins, are pardoned of sins throught the ministry of a priest.
  • There are 4 stages to reconciliation: contrition, confession, absolution, satisfaction (or penance.)
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Rite of reconciliation

  • Preparation- reading scriptues and silent prayers
  • The sign of the cross and blessing- focuses on love of God.
  • Confession- A person examines their conscience with respect to the commandments and beatitudes. In confessing sins a person accepts their actions.
  • Satisfaction/penance- there may be some conversation between the priest and the person to help explore the issues. The priest may give a penance.
  • Contrition- This means being genuinely sorry for one's sins and being determined not to sin again. The motivation for contrition should be a desire for the love of God, but it may come from fear of God's punishment.
  • Absolution- the priest gives the prayer of absolution. 

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Preparation blessing confession satisfacton contrition absolution

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Meaning and significance of Reconciliation

The main reason for confession to a priest is so that we can apologise to God for the sins we have committed. The priest cannot really be said to forgive sins by the power of christ, if he doesn't know what the sins are. In reality, it is Christ who forgives our sins through the priest. Since Christ is ascended into heaven, wewould not be able to see him or hear his voice forgiving us. But he acts in the person of the priest. When the priest says, "I absolve you from your sins," he is doing so in Christ's name and place.

Signs and symbols of reconciliation

  • Holy Spirit- At confession, the priest sends the Holy spirit upon us so that our sins may be forgiven in the name of of God.
  • Priest- The priest plays an important part of confession. Through him, our sins are forgiven as he calls upon the Holy spirit and Christ to do so. He has the power to absolve our sins.
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Why is confession important

It is the normal way we can be forgiven for serious sins after baptism. Regular confession is important becasue it helps us to deal with our sins quickly and to develop a mature conscience. It also gives grace to resist temptation. The act of confessing itself bestows healing and a sense of release from the burden of sin.

Repairing the damage of sin

The damage caused by sins needs to be repaired even after the guilt of the sin itself has been forgiven by absolution. For this reason the priest will give a penance in the Confession. This is generally a prayer, a work of mercy, a sacrafice or an act of self-denial. By the mercy of God, these acts remove the punishment we deserve due to the effects of our sine. Indulgences offered by the church are another means of remitting the punishment.

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Why is confession important

It is the normal way we can be forgiven for serious sins after baptism. Regular confession is important becasue it helps us to deal with our sins quickly and to develop a mature conscience. It also gives grace to resist temptation. The act of confessing itself bestows healing and a sense of release from the burden of sin.

Repairing the damage of sin

The damage caused by sins needs to be repaired even after the guilt of the sin itself has been forgiven by absolution. For this reason the priest will give a penance in the Confession. This is generally a prayer, a work of mercy, a sacrafice or an act of self-denial. By the mercy of God, these acts remove the punishment we deserve due to the effects of our sine. Indulgences offered by the church are another means of remitting the punishment.

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The parable of the prodigal son

Jesus tells a story: The youngest of 2 sons asks his father to give him his portion of the family estate as an early inheritance. Once received, he sets off on a long journey  and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. When the money runs out, a severe famine hits the country and the son finds himself in dire circumstances. He takes a job feeding pigs and even longs to eat the food assigned to the pigs. He finally comes to his senses. In humility, he decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy. The father who had been watching and waiting, receives his son back with open. He is overjoyed by the return of his lost son and the he turns to his servants and asks them to prepare a giant feast in celebration.

The older son is not happy when he comes in from working the fields and discovers a party going on to celebrate his younger brother's return. The father says to the brother, "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."

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The parable of the prodigal son meaning

  • Jesus told this parable to show that God, like the father in the story, loves all his children and that his forgiveness is unconditional. 
  • It teaches that it is never too late to be sorry; and there is no limit to his forgiveness.
  • Looking after the pigs was a job that no self-respecting Jew would ever consider.
  • The son returned to his father hoping to be allowed to become his father's servant.
  • When the father said "My son, you are always with me and everthing I have is yours" he meant that he loved both sons, and that everthing he had belonged to the older boy, but as a father he was bound to be happy at the return of the younger son.
  • Who do they represent?:
    • Father- God
    • Sons- Humans
      • Older son- Pharisees
      • Younger son- Those who turn away from God and then are truly sorry for their sins.
    • Servants- Those who believe in God.
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Crime and punishment

  • A crime is an action that is considered to be wrong and punishable by law.
  • Punishment is the infliction of a penalty to ensure that the law is enforced.

Why do people commit crimes?

People commit crimes for many reasons. Maybe they are poor & commit crime to get food/clothes etc. they cannot afford. Maybe they are empoyed and bored or rich and bored . Vandalism and drug related crimes are sometimes committed to brovide excitement. Usually someone begins by committing a 'small offence' which is unpunished. The criminal then commits bigger offences. Crime can become a habit or a way of life. There is no answer as to why people commit crime.

Forms of punishment

There are various ways of punishing criminals. For less serious crimes, the criminal might be fined, or given community service. They may be given a suspended service (only go to prison if they commit another time within a certain time). For more serious crimes or persistent offenders the punishment is usually imprisonment.

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Why do we punish?

In all societies, when someone commits a crime, the society has the right to punish the offender. The punishment can be given for a number of different reasons:

  • Protection- A criminal might be put in jail to protect society. E.g. whilst in jail, a ****** cannot continue to ****. Punishment could also be given to protect from other people/ themself.
  • Deterence- The fact that there are punishments for people who break the law might deter or stop people from committing crime. If other people see that a certain criminal has been imprisoned for a certain crime, they might think twice about turning to crime, as they don't want it to happen to them.
  • Retribution- Many people believe that victims have a right to make criminals pay for the harm they have done. They pay by being punished. Punishment can therefore be a way of 'getting your own back' on the criminal.
  • Reform- Some believe the punishment given to criminals should give the criminal the oppurtunity to change for the better. Punishment should enable criminals to leave their life of crime and should help them become more useful members of society. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the dissorder introduced by the offence.
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What do Christians think about punishment?

  • Christians look to the bible and their beliefs to help them decide why and how we should punish criminals. They also look to the example of Jesus and what Jesus said and did to help them form their beliefs about punishment.
  • The Old Testament is the part of the Bible that dates before the birth of Jesus. In the Old Testament, revenge or retribution is cited as a legitamate form of punishment. In the bible, it says "If anyone injures his neighbour, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured, so he is to be injured."
  • In dueteronomy it is suggested that punishing people by death is a way of deterring others "Everyone will hear about it and be afraid to act so arragontly."
  • In the New Testament it says "The authorities that exist have been established by God."
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The importance of forgiveness

  • It is an important concept for Christians when looking at the issue of punishment.
  • Christians believe that all people are sinneres and go against the will of God. All people fall short of God's standards. God became human, in he form of Jesus and died on the cross as a sacrafice for us. It is because of Jesus' deatch and resurrection that Christians believe that humans can have their sins forgiven. Even the criminal can receive God's forgiveness if they are sorry and repents. If a person allows the Holy Spirit into their life, they will be transformed to be more like Christ. There is always hope that the criminal could be reformed.
  • Jesus mixed with people thought of as 'sinners' . Jesus didn't think it was important what people had done in the past. What was important to him was that people changed their ways. "I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good."
  • In the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for "for those who sin against us".
  • Christians are to forgive thhose who have wronged them. Jesus tells his followers to "Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"
  • Christians believe they are called to forgive people whatever they have done. Bitterness ad the inability to forgive can destroy a person from the inside. We can forgive others because God has forgiven us.
  • Christians believe criminals can be forgiven and can change their life with the help of God's power. Also, they should forgive those who have wronged them.
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The parable of the unmerciful servant

  • A king was settling his accounts and summoned a servant who owed him a colossal debt, more than he would ever be able to pay in his lifetime.
  • The king told the servant that he and his whole family would be sold into slavery as payment.
  • The servant fell to his knees and begged the king for more time.
  • The king felt sorry for him and cancelled the whole debt.
  • The servant went out and bumped into a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money. Grabbing him by the throat, he demanded immediate payment and ignoring a plea for more time, had him thrown into prison.
  • This was reported to the king, who sent for the servant and rebuked him for not having shown the mercy he himself had shown. He was therefore sent to prison until the debt had been paid.

Jeus taught this parable to show the nature of God's mercy. The king did not just give his servant more time but cancelled what was a huge debt. God offers the same magnitude of forgiveness. Jesus points out that if people wish to be forgiven by God, they should be capable of showing forgiveness themselves; otherwise they do not understand what forgiveness means.

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Capital punishment

  • Punishing a criminal by taking their life.
  • It is sanctioned in the Old Testament but most Christians believe it is wrong to take another person's life.
  • They believe only God has the right to take away a life that He has created.
  • It leaves no oppurtunity for the criminal to repent or reform.
  • The Roman Catholic Church supports the death penaly only as a last resort, to protect society.
  • If non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keepig with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in community with the dignity og the human person.
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Prejudice and discrimination

Key words

  • Prejudice= pre-judging: making up your mind about someone or something when you have not conseidered the facts or evidence.
  • Discrimination= putting prejudices into action- treating peple badly or unfairly based on your own judgements.
  • Racism- a form of prejudice, particularlly against people of another race or ethnic group.

Other forms of prejudice and discrimination:

  • Class prejudice
  • Sexism
  • Ageism
  • Disability prejudice
  • Religious prejudice
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Prejudice and discrimination

  • Jesus was a victim of both religious and racial discrimination. Jews were hated by the Gentiles at the time of Jesus- in return Jews hated other races. There was hatred between Jews and their neighbours of mixed race, the samaritans. Jews did not consider these people 'pure' although they were of Jewish descent but had intermarried with other races.
  • In his teaching, Jesus challenged the prejudices of the people of his day. Samaritans were an immigrant community with their own distinctive faith, and there was great hatred between Jewish and Samaritan communities. They would not talk to eachother.
  • Jesus mentions Samaritans a lot and treats them well including:
    • The parable of the good samaritan
    • A samaritan was the only one to return to thank Jesus froma group of 10 lepers healed by him.
    • Jesus stopped at a Samaritan village and talking with a Samaritan woman (who is rude to him because of his race but he treats her with courtesy ad the whole village came to believe in Jesus.
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The parable of the good samaritan

  • A Jew walking along a dangerous road between Jerusalem and Jericho was mugged and left to die.
  • 2 Jewish temple officials came by, one after the other, and both crossed over to the other side of the road when they saw them man, avoiding him.
  • Eventually a Samaritan came along; Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies, so if Jewish religious leaders didn't stop what was the chance of the Samaritan stopping to help?
  • However, the Samaritan stopped and bandaged the man and took him to an inn. There he paid for the man's care, telling the innkeeper that, if any more were needed, he would pay on his return.
  • Jesus is saying that being a 'neighbour' means helping anyone in need, regardless of culture, religious belief or race.
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The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church

  • "Every human being is created in the image of God. God offers salvation to everyone, to all nations." Pope John Paul II
  • "Christ is all and Christ is in all."
  • "Love your neighbour as you love yourself."
  • "All is one in Christ."

Martin Luther King

  • Famous for work in the Southern states of USA in 1950's ad 1960's.
  • Refused to support the idea that all black people were evil.
  • Important in black people equality and the marrch to get them equality.
  • Won nobel peace prize in 1964.
  • Assassinated in 1968.
  • Believed in peaceful protest and this was more effective than other people who believed in violence.
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Equality and fighting discrimination

Equality

Christianity teaches that every human being is created in God's image. Christ died for every human being alike. Everyone is equally precious to God. Jesus taught that people should love their neighbours as they love themselves, and everybody, without distinction, is a 'neighbour'. So Christians believe that prejudice and discrimination are wrong.

What can Christians do to fight discrimination?

  • Join anti-racist organisations
  • Welcome ethnic minorities
  • Work for equal oppurtunities
  • Lobby M.Ps. on matters they consider unjust/unfair.
  • Educate children- at home. in church and at school in the belief that 'all people are born equal' and should be treated as such.
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