A Tribute To A Saintly And Persecuted Priest In America.
By J.P. Sonnen: I have known Father Robert Altier for twenty years.
Easily the very finest priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
And one of the very finest priests the Church in the New World has ever produced.
A mystic. Holiest guy I have ever come to know. He has the diligence of prayer. He is very good at being a priest.
In high school we saw him make his daily hour each morning in the crypt chapel of the Church of St. Agnes. Such a witness it was to all of us high school students next door.
He was my spiritual director and confessor. I was his altar server. Best confessor I ever had. My penance was always the same: “Say one Hail Mary, VERY well.”
He taught me mental prayer. No one else had ever explained to me how mental prayer works.
Best preacher I have ever heard anywhere on the planet earth. And nicest guy. He even came to my home a couple of times when I was in college to hang out with myself and some fellow seminarians. Another time he came to bless the home. Always there for people.
He has always been available to give counsel and this is very important for a priest withcura animarum. And the best counsel he gave. This is where he saved souls. And many of the souls who came to him were more advanced in the spiritual life. And he knew how to take this into consideration – where people were at.
He helped me choose the right college. He even taught a course I took in high school. He was the most talented teacher on the staff at St. Agnes High School. Everyone’s favorite. His daily Mass was at 6 am. It was a comfort to know he was near.
Can I sum him up in one word? Yes, holy. A second word? Yes, wise. I never once saw him angry, rude or mean. He has made a lot of converts. In fact, he has more converts under his belt than any parish priest I know. Just ask around.
I made my first good confession as an adult to him in the mountains of Colorado in 1993 and I will forever be grateful to him. Afterwards he shook my hand with a big smile. He had just given one of the best sermons on Confession I have ever heard before or since and he gave me wise spiritual counsel that day.
Sadly, though, the good guys always suffer. And they are quiet about it. Just read the lives of the saints. Misunderstandings come their way. They are maligned, they are victims of calumny, they are falsely accused, blamed and lied about. Priest AND victim.
But in this suffering lies their sanctification. Suffering is necessary for sanctification. Rev. and dear Father, thank you for all that you have given me. In fact, I wish you a life of great suffering, because in that crucible you will find your sanctification. Keep doing the Lord’s work. Your spiritual sons and daughters are many.
May God be praised for his saints!
The Following are some homilies by Father Altier that you, our readers, may enjoy:
Because By Making Reparation, We Share In Christ’s Redemptive Suffering!
By: Father Robert Altier
What Is Reparation?
In the summer of 1916, in the second apparition of the Angel to the children, he asked them to offer every
suffering as an act of reparation to God. On three occasions, in May, July, and October of 1917, our Lady instructed the children to make reparation for the sins against God and the sins against our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. However, nothing made as much impact on the children as the July vision of hell which caused all three, but especially Francisco, to take on many penances and offer them as acts of reparation.
Reparation is the repairing or making up for the offenses against God. This covers a wide variety of areas from the fact of Original Sin to our own personal sins and even to the sins of others no matter how large or small the offense might be. God is the author of justice, but He is also the norm of justice. This means that He can determine what, if any, atonement needs to be made for sin. In other words, He can simply write off our sins without requiring any reparation, but normally He will not do this because reparation is actually something that is good for us.
God’s Justice Is Not Just A Concept
We can see just how grievous our sins are to God by the fact that He did not just write them off, but sent His own Son to suffer and die, i.e., to make reparation for our sins. In this we see how important justice is to God. Justice is not just a concept, it is a truth that must be upheld and He did not back away from what justice requires even though, if we think in terms of human relationships, sending His Son to die would be much more difficult than just writing off the sins. Through His suffering and death, Jesus made atonement and reparation for our sins, but in His mercy He saved a little bit for us to do. This is not only so that we could make up, to some degree, for our own sins, but that we can actually have a share in the work of redemption and salvation. St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Colossians that he makes up in his body for what is lacking in the suffering of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church. It is not that Jesus did not do enough, but that the members of His Mystical Body would also share in this work.
How Can We Make Reparation For Our And The Worlds Sins?
By uniting our prayers, works and sufferings to those of Jesus, we can actually make some reparation for our offenses against the justice of God. Because we are members of Christ, our offerings become part of the work of our Lord which was to make reparation for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, our offering not only makes reparation for our sins, but for the sins of others as well. I said earlier that God did not just wipe out our sins because the need to make reparation is better for us than to just have our sins forgiven. Making reparation helps us to understand the gravity of sin, but it also helps us to avoid sin so that we do not offend God any more. If our sins were just overlooked, we would think we could do anything and have no consequences. More than this, God allows us to love Him by making reparation. When we love someone we do not want to offend that person and, if we do commit an offense, we want to make it up to that person rather than just sweeping it under the rug. Love of God will drive us to want to make reparation.
As a child of God and as a member of Christ, strive to satisfy the justice of God by making reparation for your sins and those of others.
Satan Has No Authority Over Our Lady As She Was Always In Perfect Conformity To The Will Of God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing. From ~ Desert Voice.
Father Robert Altier-Today we have the great joy of celebrating the feast of our Blessed Lady’s Immaculate Conception.
Now we need to be very clear about a couple of things. Number one, what we are talking about with regard to this feast is the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. It is not the conception of Jesus. That is what is known as the Virginal Conception, and that took place at the time of the Annunciation; we celebrate that on the 25th of March. But the feast we celebrate today is the day our Blessed Lady was conceived without sin. That is what the word immaculate means – “without stain”, quite literally, is what the word means. So Immaculate Conception means that our Blessed Mother is the only person in human history to be conceived without sin. Obviously, Adam and Eve were created without sin, but they were not conceived. Jesus is not a human person; He is a divine person. He was conceived without Original Sin, but He is God. And so Our Lady is the only one in all of humanity for whom this miracle has been reserved. And that is precisely what it is; it is a miracle. She was conceived through the normal relations of her parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, and by a miracle of God (beyond just the miracle of conception) she was kept free of sin from the very first instant of her existence.
This was to be able to fulfill exactly what was prophesied regarding her, something that in our first reading today was translated in a way that does not make clear that that is what we are talking about. Traditionally, the way that first reading was worded, it said: You will nip at his heel and she will crush your head. That is what Our Lord told the serpent, and it would be the woman who would have the authority over the serpent to crush his vile head. That is precisely what we celebrate today. Satan has no authority over Our Lady. Not even for one instant of her existence was there ever anything sinful on her soul; and, because of this, she was always in perfect conformity with the Will of God. At every instant of her life, she was doing the Will of God and growing more and more in love for God. That means from the very first instant of her life there was more love and more grace in her soul than there is in all of our souls combined right now. She grew at every instant of her life in love to the point where she loves more than all of heaven and earth combined. If you think about all the angels and the incredible love they have – the seraphim, who are the fiery ones because they are on fire with love for God, and all the cherubim and all the other angels and all of the saints who have ever lived who loved God so much – all of their love combined pales in comparison to the love Our Lady has for God. That is the extraordinary nature of what God Himself has created in His mother.
Now we can look at her and say to ourselves that she does not really stand as much of a model for us because we cannot relate. Quite the contrary. She is the only human person who lived life the way that God intended it to be lived. What we see in her is exactly what God’s original intention was for each and every one of us. But we also see in her the way we are to live our lives. We will never be free of sin in the sense that we never had it, but we can strive to live always in the presence of God, always seeking to do His Will, and always in union with Him. That is the way Our Lady lived her life, a life of prayer, a life of love, love of God and love of neighbor. That is something that is not beyond any one of us here. Affected by sin as all of us are, we can still strive for that holiness of life. So it is not beyond us to be able to model ourselves after the way that she lived her life, and that is what we need to strive for.
She is our mother. She will teach us how to do that if we ask, if we really desire it. There is nothing that she would want more than for us to be able to be totally in love with her Son and to serve Him with our whole heart and soul and strength. What mother would not want that for her child? And here, the greatest of all mothers will be able to help us to live even in this world without sin, that is, without committing any more sins. Now we might scoff at that and think, “It’s not possible for me to stop sinning.” Yes, it is. It is completely possible for all of us to stop sinning. Not by ourselves, not by our own power, we are not just going to make the decision today: “Okay, I’m not going to sin anymore.” That is not going to work. But by the grace and the power of God, we can stop sinning and we can live lives of true holiness. That is exactly what God wants for us, that is the way Our Lady lived her life, and it is the way she will help us to live ours. And that is exactly what Saint Paul told us in the second reading, that the very purpose of our existence is for the glory of God.
So as we look at our Blessed Lady and this glorious feast we celebrate today, we rejoice that God has made one human person for his own self, and made her perfect so she would stand truly as a model for all of us, but also as a mother for all of us to teach us, to guide us, and to help us grow in holiness and to serve her Son sinlessly and in holiness of life
From: Desert Voice (with slight editing)
A follow up post to Father Altier’s: On The Reality And Action Of Demons.
Father Robert Altier-In the Gospel we hear about this boy who is possessed by the demon. Many people, when they think about things demonic, immediately and only think about demonic possession. But, as we hear in scripture, there are lots of other ways that demons operate. For instance, Saint James tells us that if someone has a wisdom which is selfish, arrogant, and boastful it is earthly and it is demonic. It is something that is not of God, but it is not merely something which is natural either; it is something that is preternatural or something that is from the demons.
The Devil’s Greatest Deception
This is a point that we have lost rather badly in our society. Even in our own Church these days, most people, first of all, give lip service to the fact that maybe the devil exists but he really does not have any power; or if he does, well, we do not want to deal with him anyway. There are some people who would say that anything demonic is merely a medieval myth, that they thought various forms of mental illness were really something that were demonic manifestations. But now that we have psychologists and psychiatrists, we know better than that; therefore, the devil does not exist because we have become enlightened now and we are not caught up in the medieval myths anymore. The fact of the matter is that they are as real as you and me. We all have guardian angels that we cannot see. Of course, many people want to deny that reality as well. The demons are fallen angels and they are real. And they can afflict us in a variety of ways.
Why Do I Keep Falling Into Sinful Patterns?
But I think what is important is what Our Lord points out in the gospel: This kind can only be gotten rid of by prayer. And there is another point where He says by prayer and fasting. When we look at the various things that we struggle with in our lives, we understand that certainly there is our own free will involved in some of our sinfulness; but there are other things that we continually do over and over again which are a mystery even to our own selves. “Why did this happen? Why do I keep doing these same things? Why do I do selfish things? Why do I do arrogant things? Why do I keep doing the same stupid things that I keep saying to myself, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore’? I keep falling into the same pattern.” It is not necessarily a willful thing, but it just keeps happening and it is not good. It is because there is something spiritual there. Not that anybody here is possessed – I do not suspect anyone is – but, again, one does not need to be possessed in order to be troubled by demonic things.
We Have To Pray And Do Penance!
So we need to pray and we need to do penance in order to overcome these things. Some things we can push out pretty easily. Other things are going to take an awful lot of work depending on what happened to allow these things in and what kind of demon it is, because there are different kinds of spirits that are present within us. And so we must be very careful because we realize that for someone to be possessed is exceedingly rare, exceedingly rare. It happens, but it is very rare. Do not assume that if someone has any kind of demonic problem they must be possessed, because generally they are not. But do not assume either that just because someone is not possessed that they do not have any kind of demonic problems. I can guarantee you that unless you are perfect you have a demonic problem, not that you are possessed, not that you are willfully entertaining anything demonic. The fact of the matter is the demons live within the wounds within us, and until those wounds heal they have a home. That is why we need to pray. That is why we need to do penance. We need to get at the very heart of what it is that allowed these things in, and we need to work against it. It is possible, as Our Lord made very clear, for those with faith.
We Can Do Nothing On Our Own!
As we look at our own struggles, some of which we may have been trying for years and years and years to overcome, we simply need to go to Our Lord and recognize that the ultimate origin of these things probably is not our own free will – we have simply cooperated with it to whatever degree – but there is probably something else that is spiritual there causing us trouble. We need to go to Our Lord and beg Him for the grace to be able to get rid of this thing, and say with the father of the boy in the Gospel, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Understand that with faith we can be rid of these things. Depending on what it is that they are, it requires different things. But the fact of the matter is that with the help of God all things are possible. So we do not go to prayer and say, “Oh, Lord, if you can do this…” because all things are possible for Him. What is necessary is that first we have faith in the proper sense. We have to recognize the reality of our situation for what it is and we need to approach it in the right way: with prayer, with penance, and with complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ, Who can do all things in those who believe.
Would You Like To Learn More About The Differences Between The Different Kinds And The Different Actions Of The Devil’s Minions? Then Read The Following!
From Desert Voice (with slight editing)
Father Robert Altier-We need to speak about reality of the evil spirits. I thought it might be appropriate to explain that with a little bit more detail so that we would understand exactly what it is we are working against.
There are spirits that are broken up into different kinds of categories. There are, for instance, the spirits that are called “cardinal spirits”. Cardinal spirits are the ones that we get in because of repeated sin. If we do the same thing over and over and over again, we open ourselves up to allow the devil in. We do not become possessed by these things, but rather we are oppressed by them. And what we need to do is work them back out by changing the habits that we have and changing our vices into virtues.
There are what are called “ministering spirits”. Ministering spirits are huge things from the higher order of angels. They are the ones that live within the wounds that are inflicted upon us from the time that we are quite young, when there are traumatic things that happen in our lives when we are young (before 12 years old). These are the great, big things that get wrapped around our personality, and because of that, they are very, very difficult to even be able to recognize or to get rid of. The problem with ministering spirits is, first of all, they are exceedingly intelligent, which is why they go after little children rather than adults because their arrogance will not allow them to do anything else. They try to hide behind the personality of the people. These are the ones that will cause pride, selfishness, anger, and also fear. So when we see these kinds of problems in our lives, these are things that are rooted deep, deep within ourselves. They are in the wounds that were inflicted when we were young, and the only way to be able to get rid of them is to get inside and be able to address the woundedness, to heal those wounds that are there through forgiveness, through working through the various things in prayer. Slowly, we will be able to push these things away.
There are also occult spirits. These are the things that get in through occult practices. They can be sent or they can be summoned. For instance, if we allow ourselves to be involved in any kind of occult things: playing with a ouija board, going to a palm reader or to a psychic or somebody like that, getting ourselves into any kind of satanic thing. That is how we are going to get these occult spirits. But they can also be sent by somebody. That is, they can be sent along with a curse. They can be sent by someone who is in the occult, someone who does not like you very much, to cause you lots of problems. These are particularly vile creatures. Because they are occult spirits, they are not very easy to get rid of because they are nasty and tenacious and they fight back, whereas the other ones we can push out. But these are going to cause lots of problems as we try to get rid of them.
Then there are other categories that still fit under these three general headings. There are familial spirits, which are within the family and get passed down; for instance, if there is someone who is in the Masons. The Masons are the lowest form of human life on the face of the earth. They are an occult religion, and they are the most despicable of human beings. In order to move up the ladder, they actually offer their children and their grandchildren and generations down the line in order for their own selfish ambitions to be met. So there are curses that are put upon the families and upon the children, and those get passed down from generation to generation.
There are others that are also generational spirits, familial spirits. One of these, for instance, is incest. That is a generational and familial spirit; it gets passed down from generation to generation. You see the same problems within the family that get passed along. We wonder how it is possible that this can happen generation after generation; it is because of the spirit that is there. There are familiar spirits. That is a different spirit that has a familiarity with you because it was already there and the wound is not necessarily fully healed, so it can come in because there is a woundedness that is already present for it. And there are retaliating spirits. There are all kinds of different ways that these things can get in, but it is just to understand what it is that we are working against.
When we think about the struggles that we have, Saint James tells us, for instance, that we have these wars within our members and so on, but the reality is that the war, as Saint Paul tells us, is not against flesh and blood; it is against the principalities and powers of darkness and the rulers of the high places. It is against Satan and his minions, and we need to be clear. We do have our own weaknesses because of our own sins, but the fact of the matter is it is not merely just our little human weakness – it is our human weakness being compounded by something which is a spiritual problem. And in order to deal with a spiritual problem, you have to deal with it in a spiritual way.
Our Battle Is Not Against Flesh And Blood
So again, it is a matter of how we are going to combat these things. Remember Jesus said, “This type (of demon) can only be gotten rid of by prayer and fasting.” If you really want to be able to make headway on some of these things, you need to pray, you need to take on some penances, and you need to face the things directly. It is all of these things. It is not just a matter of saying, “If I pray it will go away.” It is not just a matter of saying, “If I try to change my habits it will make a difference.” These things will help all by themselves; but if we really want to be able to get rid of the problems in our lives, it is going to require all three of these things: to pray, to do penance, and to work at making the changes that we need, because we have our part to do but it is still a matter of recognizing where the trouble is coming from. Not merely just within our own selves and within our own weaknesses, but by the spirits that are there.
Three Levels Of Spirits
There are also three levels of these things. There are oppressive spirits. Those are the ones that all of us deal with. They are the things that are there causing us the trouble. There are obsessive spirits. That is where a person gets obsessed with occult things. And then there are possessive spirits. That is when a person opens himself up to actually be taken over, to become possessed. That is the one that is very, very rare. We have to understand that just because someone is dealing with spiritual things, which all of us are, it does not mean they are possessed. In fact, it is very rare that someone would be possessed.
I make these distinctions for you simply so you can understand why we struggle the way that we do in our spiritual lives, what it is that we are fighting against, and to help us understand that just because we are struggling against the devil and his minions does not mean that we are possessed and it does not mean that we have given ourselves over to Satan. Some of the things we are completely innocent of: the generational things, the ministering spirits, and so on. The fact is they are still there, and so we have to do our part to work against them. Look seriously at what is going on within your own heart and soul, and make a choice to really fight against them by prayer, by fasting, and by turning directly against the areas of weakness within yourself to throw out the devil.
Then Offer It To God For His Glory As Our Lady Of Fatima Instructed!
Father Robert Altier-The church recalls the great events that took place in Fatima, Portugal back in 1917 as Our Lady appeared to these three little children. She revealed to them several secrets, including, of course, the Second World War and some of the events that would take place as we have only in the last few years had revealed as part of that Third Secret – the things that would take place with the shooting of the Holy Father and the martyrdom of many others.
So as these events that Our Lady spoke of continue to unfold, we have to look even further at what it is that she asked for. She asked that there would be reparation on the First Saturdays for all of the crimes against her Immaculate Heart. She asked that we would do penance and that we would pray the Rosary. It is precisely these things that are needed more than anything in our world today. Of all the things that we can get ourselves involved in, there is nothing more important than prayer and penance. It is only this that is going to bring about a change.
I think Pope John Paul II had demonstrated this very clearly toward the end of his life when he accepted the intense sufferings that God sent him. He showed all of us the dignity of a suffering human being. Sister Lucia did something that was very similar as she just suffered in silence for so many years, showing us once again what it means when Our Lord looks at each one of us as He did at Peter in the Gospel reading today and said, Do you love Me? Then when we say, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love You,” the question is what we are going to do with that. Love, as we know, is demonstrated only in suffering; it is only when we are willing to accept the Cross.
As it said at the end of the Gospel reading when Jesus explained to Peter what was going to happen to him when he got older, Saint John says: This was to signify the kind of death by which he was to glorify God. Now we would look at it and say, “How can that glorify God? It is such an unjust thing!” But it is precisely because he accepted it and he embraced it and he gave it all to God, and the Lord was glorified in that. So too now for us, to be able to look at this and remember that in that Third Secret as the angel stood with his sword and cried out to the earth, Penance! Penance! Penance! those are the only words that are in that part of the Third Secret that has been revealed. Penance! Penance! Penance! This is what the world needs: People who are willing to accept their share of the Cross, and by this means to glorify God; people who are willing to offer to God their suffering, to be able to unite that with Our Lord’s suffering, and in this way to demonstrate their love.
This is what we see Saint Paul doing in the first reading, having to go through all of these injustices and all of the trials and things that he had to endure until finally he would be put to death. So too, when we look at it all, it is unjust if we look at it on the natural level. And there is cause, if we look at it just on that level, to be angry. But what good does it do? What we have to do is look at it from God’s perspective and realize that if we are being given an opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ through things that are unjust, it is by these means that we glorify God, and it is by these means that we show God we love Him. That is what is being offered to us.
As Our Lady calls us to prayer and penance, she is asking us also to be able to be like her Son, to suffer even unjustly, to forgive the people who cause the suffering, to be willing to offer it all to God, to give Him glory. And so today Our Lord looks at each one of us – and even though it hurts us sometimes that He would even ask, Do you love Me? – the reason He keeps asking is because most of us give Him lip service and we say, “Yes, Lord, of course I love You,” but we have not demonstrated it very well, if at all. So He looks at us again today and asks the same question. Then, in response, when we tell Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You,” if that be the case then we need to show Him that we love Him and not just tell Him. To show Him that we love Him is to accept the Cross so that by those very means we will glorify God.
Father Robert Altier-DesertVoice.com
We have heard in the Gospel reading about towns where Our Lord did the vast majority of His work, and He condemns them because they did not believe. It is quite amazing to hear what He has to say about these other towns, about Tyre and Sidon, about Sodom and Gomorrah, that Sodom would still have been around to that particular day if the works done in Capernaum had been done in Sodom. We all know what happened in Sodom, the horrible sins that were going on there, the gross homosexuality and all the problems that they had. And we know that when the angels came to Sodom, they wanted to sodomize the angels. Yet Our Lord is telling us that if those works that He did had been done in Sodom, Sodom would still be standing because the people would have converted.
Our Culture Is Worse Than Sodom And Gomorrah
We look around and we see things in our own society getting worse and worse and worse –not only our society, but throughout the world. We ask ourselves, “What is it going to take? What does God have to do to get people turned around?” We might say, “If He did some sort of miracle, people would surely believe.” How many miracles does He need to do? They are happening all the time, yet people refuse to believe. The amazing thing is that very often it is even the people for whom the miracles were done who refuse to believe these days. God does something extraordinary right in someone’s life and they just shrug it off! They continue to act the way that they were before. We are in such a situation that we have to understand that our society is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. Now that is quite a statement, yet it is true. Sodom and Gomorrah would have converted if the works that the Lord continues to do even in our own day would have been done in them.
The Vast Majority Refuse To Repent and Believe In The Gospel
But we have been untouched as a society by the works of the Lord. How many Masses are said everyday. How many graces are brought down to this earth through the Mass being offered, through generous souls who are willing to suffer, through the prayers of good and holy people. Yet things continue just to degenerate. At the time of Our Lord, they did not understand the value of suffering. They did not have the Mass. They had Jesus going into these towns and working mighty deeds, but He told us that we would do even greater things than what He had done. So we have all of the saints. We have our Blessed Lady. We have Our Lord. We have the Mass. We have an understanding of the value of prayer and suffering and sacrifice and all these things. We have many, many generous people who are offering themselves to the Lord as victim souls and who are offering their daily sufferings to the Lord. Still, the vast majority refuses to hear and to change.
We Have To Continue To Pray And Do Penance For Our Lost Brothers And Sisters
We need desperately to continue to pray and to continue to offer our sufferings and sacrifices to the Lord. It is the only way. The devil right now has such a hold on the people of this world that our only hope for being able to snatch them from the hands of Satan is going to be through prayer and sacrifice. There are many who are willing to do so, yet when we look at the whole world, it is hardly a handful by comparison. God needs generous souls and He needs them desperately. We can be guaranteed if we are willing to offer up those sacrifices to the Lord that we will see extraordinary things happening, that we will know there are graces being brought to this world and there are souls who are being touched and converted. Even if things continue to go the wrong way on the large scale, we can be guaranteed that God’s grace is working in the lives of individuals to save their souls. That may be at the last moment of their life as they are dying, to get turned around, it may be in some other circumstance, and it may well be people that we do not even know. It does not matter. All that matters is that we have the faith, the confidence, and the trust that the Lord is going to accept what we offer Him and that He will apply it where it is most needed. So we need to do our part.
Beg The Lord For The Grace Of Conversion For Our Loved Ones And The World
If the works that have been done in our day had been done in a place like Sodom, it would have converted. America and the rest of the world have not. We have rejected the grace of God, and we have chosen sin that is far worse than what Sodom ever knew. We need to pray and we need to do penance. We need to beg the Lord to open the way so that people will be able to receive the grace so they will be converted and saved.
Won’t you pray for mercy while their is still time for mercy.
Or Did Christ Confer Power To His Apostles Down Through The Ages.
Father Robert Altier-Throughout history, people have denied that the Church can forgive sin, that is, they have rejected and denied the reality of this sacrament. The reformers said that sin is forgiven only through baptism. The Montanists and the Donatists said that the Church could forgive venial sin but could not forgive mortal sin. Interestingly, the Church teaches us that the only sins which absolutely must be confessed are the mortal sins. You have some people saying that the Church does not have the authority to forgive serious sin. The spiritual backing for this comes from a couple of different places. We can look, for instance, at Matthew 16 where Jesus says, You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church; whatever you hold bound on earth will be held bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Then in Matthew 18, Jesus also extends the ability to forgive sin to all of the apostles, not just to Peter with the binding and loosing, but all the apostles. Most clearly, in John 20 after the Resurrection, Jesus breathes on the apostles and says, Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you hold bound are held bound. There is the authority for both, to forgive or to refuse forgiveness. We see that God Himself is the One telling us that whatever you hold bound or forgive on earth will be held bound or forgiven in heaven. Therefore, we see that Our Lord Himself invested the apostles with the authority to forgive sins, but again it can also be used to refuse forgiveness. We will address why that would happen further on.
We see that this conferral of power to forgive sins is not a personal gift to the apostles, but rather we believe it was transferred through them to the Church as a permanent institution. All you have to do is think about it and say, “If Jesus gave the apostles authority to forgive sin but that authority died with the apostles, the rest of us are up a creek because it means there is no forgiveness of sin.” Unless sin ended with the death of the last apostle, there would be no more need to forgive anybody; and we know that is not the case, because we know that we live in the most sinful society the world has ever known. God also said, Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. So we know that His will to forgive and the grace of forgiveness is available to us, but it is a matter of availing ourselves of that grace. The power, then, was transmitted by the apostles to their successors in the same way that the power to say Mass and to preach was passed on to their successors. And it is obvious why. Sin is going to continue for all time; therefore, the forgiveness of sin is necessary for all time.
One of the tricks of the devil, and it works very well, is that he tries to shame you with it. He brings things up in front of you and says, “Look at what you did. You rotten thing, you, look at this sin! Can you believe you are such a disgusting creature as to do something like this?” Then we start falling into the self-pity and all the other stuff. Do not play his game. The thing to do is very simple; just say, “I have already confessed it and God has forgiven me.” If it has not been confessed, then say, “Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will confess it next time I go to confession.” Either way, you pull the rug out from underneath him. In the first one, you are acknowledging that you did it. What he wants is for you to either say, “I never did it,” or to say, “God hasn’t forgiven me.” So you are acknowledging both: “I have already confessed it and God has forgiven me.” I always like to add: “You lose, Satan.” You do not have to do that if you do not want to, but it is the truth. With the other one, it pulls the rug out from under him. He is trying to shame you with something, so if you stick it right back in his face and say, “Thank you. I will confess that as soon as I can,” what is he going to do? His attempt to shame you has failed because you took it and made it into something positive instead of the negative thing that he wanted to do with it. That is the way to handle it.
Do not play his game. The more we play around with the devil, the worse trouble we get ourselves into. So recognize how he works and tell him to get lost. Since his name is Lucifer, I like to call him “Loser-fer” because he is the ultimate loser. He has chosen against God and he is spending eternity in hell. That is what a loser is all about. As Mother Teresa said, the only ones who are a success in this life are the ones who succeed in getting to heaven, and the only ones who are a failure in this life are the ones who fail to get to heaven. It does not matter if you die with ten billion dollars. If you go to hell, what difference does it make? What profit is there for a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? What good does it do? The only thing that matters is getting to heaven, so do not play footsie with the devil. It does not do us any good at all.