Efficacy of confession and absolution

Discussion in 'Liturgy, and Book of Common Prayer' started by Rexlion, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Is God required to do something just because we ask for it? Does any relationship work that way?
    A person seeking God's forgiveness will and should, barring some impediment, do so in the manner God prescribed: in and by His Church which he appointed for that very purpose. "Whatsoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven." We do not relate to God without mediation. We are only united to God through Christ in his body, and his body on earth is the communion of saints in the Church. Apart from our incorporation into Christ's body, the Church, we have no relationship to God other than one of dependence, which is common to all creatures.
     
  2. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    He’s not required to forgive us, but he has promised it. So I trust in his promise.
    Christ instructed us to pray directly to the father for the forgiveness of sins. I trust God will forgive me as he sees fit. I’ve not seen a passage from scripture that orders us to confess in the presence of a priest in order to receive absolution.
    Also, did the fathers of the church even believe confession must be done in the presence of a priest?
    I have the Catena Bible app and I found this form Cyril of Alexandria on john 20:23
    “They who have the Spirit of God remit or retain sins in two ways, as I think. For they invite to Baptism those to whom this sacrament is already due from the purity of their lives, and their tried adherence to the faith; and they hinder and exclude others who are not as yet worthy of the Divine grace. And in another sense, also, they remit and retain sins, by. rebuking erring children of the Church, and granting pardon to those who repent; just as, also, Paul gave up him that had committed fornication at Corinth, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved, and admitted him again into fellowship, that he might not be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow, as he says in his letter.”

    It doesn’t sound to me like he believed this passage applied to priestly absolution at all.
    And for everyone talking about OT absolution, let’s not forget David crying out to God for forgiveness many times, and saying God has forgiven him. And this is in the old covenant priestly sacrificial system, before the tearing of the veil.
    If someone can show me other church fathers interpreting this differently than me then I can reconsider my position. I’m not saying priests don’t have the power to grant absolution through God. I’m saying you don’t need to go to a priest to get absolution, and that God hasn’t anywhere commanded us to do so. I don’t believe my interpretation of John 20 is too far off from the early church, unless Cyril is an anomaly. Is there any proof the apostles ever told the presbyters they have the power to forgive sins, and that people should seek out to get forgiveness the way God has supposedly appointed it?
    This raises so many questions. Like, do I need to wait a whole week if I sin Sunday after church to be forgiven again? What’s even the point of praying Our Father on our own and asking for forgiveness if it should be done the “way” God has appointed it through a priest? Every time I pray at night I ask God to forgive my trespasses and sins I have committed, knowingly or unknowingly. What’s the point of doing that if it’s not in the presence of a priest?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2021
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  3. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Barring some impediment, yes. But note the form of your question: this is called "stacking the deck". One cannot frame a question in advance in precisely the terms one chooses and then claim there's no evidence when it doesn't fit exactly the pattern one is looking for. That's not letting the evidence speak for itself; that's determining what the evidence will say before it ever opens its mouth. The Bible doesn't have to say "you must go to your priest to receive absolution" in just those words in order for that to be what it teaches. It can make the matter clear any number of ways. I'm going to continue bringing up the verse I quoted above from the Gospel of John because there's really no getting around it: what does it mean to say that those who are commissioned by Christ can "retain" (i.e., not forgive) the sins of others? It would seem to stretch and distort the plain meaning of the passage beyond all recognition to suggest that a person who went to a priest for absolution and was told "No" (for whatever reason...let's say, suspicion of insincerity), could just do an end run around the priest and receive it from God directly anyway. What is the purpose of having that authority at all if that's the case? Now, we might disagree with what the Gospel of John says, if we don't assume that Scripture is inerrant or infallible. Or, we might think that the Gospel is non-historical, and thus that these really weren't the words of Christ. Those are both options. The option we do not have, is not letting the text say what it plainly intends to say. One has to be willing to let the text say what it means and mean what it says, whether it's inconvenient to one's own position or not, whether it makes one emotionally uncomfortable or not, and there are many, many passages in the Bible that will have this effect once one leaves one's presuppositions to the side. Only once that step has been fulfilled, can one start talking about how the passage applies to us here and now.
     
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  4. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    It’s obvious to you it means what you think it means, but then why was Cyril in 400 ad interpret it differently? If your view of priestly absolution what the early church was doing, then why did he interpret it like this? I’ve not provided you only my own interpretation “twisted” by modernity or whatever, I’ve also shown you one of the church fathers interpreted it very differently than you do. I’d also like to say that this whole priestly absolution business is based upon apostolic succession, which is not mentioned in scripture, not even once. Oddly enough, because you’d think if it was so important it would have been mentioned. I do not even believe that for the first 200 years the church had a priest system anyways. If Christ gave the apostles the power to forgive sins, what has that to do with modern day “priests”?. The priesthood has been abolished and should have stayed abolished. I do not believe there is enough historical evidence to prove even Rome, which has the most detailed accounts of apostolic succession, still had a valid succession. The thread of priestly succession gets lost very easily, I doubt many priests to this day have valid succession. One of the requirements in the early church for valid succession was suffrage by the people in the local church. Neither anglicans, or Romans or EOs practice this. How are any of these successions valid, if the local church isn’t present at the priests ordination and assenting to it? Priests nowadays aren’t even chosen by a church, they go study to a seminary or whatever they call it, then go on to be assigned to a church.

    The fact of the matter is Christ taught us to pray to the father directly and ask for forgiveness of sins, before he even gave the power of losing and binding to the apostles. Paul taught us to approach God with the boldness given to us by Christ. He didn’t say anything about his priestly successors when talking about the forgiveness of sins. Probably because he didn’t know they existed….
    Really, what is the point of asking forgiveness of sins in private prayer if you can’t be absolved until going to a priest? What if you die and you didn’t get the opportunity to confess and make peace with this world before your departure? This all sounds like a sacerdotal system the RC and EOs practice.
    Again, I’m not denying any power of priestly absolution (although I don’t believe in apostolic succession. Not enough historical proof for me). What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t have to feel like waiting until the priest pronounces absolution to feel forgiven. What’s the point of even asking to God for forgiveness if we’re just going to assume he’s going to put it off until we go to church on Sunday again? Idk about you but I actually feel like my prayers to God have an effect. I wouldn’t go to general absolution and feel like it wasn’t effective enough and need to confess to a priest like RCs do. Just like I wouldn’t ask God forgiveness for a specific sin and feel like his forgiveness isn’t effectualized until I go to general absolution. You will say that God doesn’t have to forgive me just because I ask; and he doesn’t! But he has promised to do so, and I see nothing wrong with feeling and knowing I’ve been forgiven. Priestly absolution is conditional anyways, just like private prayer. You can confess all your sins but if you don’t do it in faith you won’t be forgiven.
    “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
    If Christ has taught me to ask for forgiveness, and he has said I will be forgiven if I have faith (no apostolic succession priest condition), who am I to doubt him?
     
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  5. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    The priest suspects the person isn’t genuine. He says the sin isn’t forgiven because they’re not being genuine. Can the priest read minds, however? How does the priest know for sure? I would like to know how he would even do this in a general absolution. I’m assuming you mean a private auricular confession, which I thought only Anglo Catholics were really into anyways. If you mean private confession, You don’t confess to a priest. You confess with one. Or at least you should. Anyways, the priest is bound by human limitations. He can’t read your mind. If the priest is mistaken and you are sorry, are you saying God wouldn’t forgive you because of a priests mistake?
    The purpose of modern day priests retaining sins then should be as a guide to the person they’re not genuine. Again, I don’t believe in apostolic succession, so what do the apostles having the power to forgive sins have to do with a modern day priest? I should hope the apostles had a special charism to go along with their power of retaining and forgiving sins, where God enlightened them to who was sorry or not. The apostles could do all sorts of miracles their modern day successors can’t do.
    the point is, modern day priests aren’t an extension of the apostles. This is a later concept. The Christian priesthood was non existent up to the 3rd century. No one was remitting anyone’s sins right after the death of the apostles. No one was claiming they had the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
    This thinking that your sins won’t be forigiven until you go to a priest is exactly what leads to RCs believing if they die with unconfessed sin they go to hell. The “priests” are there to help us, confession is there to help us. No one is going to have absolution denied to them if they genuinely mean it, no matter what a modern day priest thinks. I do not believe the apostle could err on their judgement of contriteness, but I do believe modern day priests can err. You ask what the point of giving them that power is. I ask who ever gave modern day presbyters such a power?
     
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The OT is OK but the interpretation of much of it against the teaching and example of Jesus Christ IS rubbish. Do you advocate the stoning of dissobedient children and women caught in adultery, simply because the OT tells the Israelites, in that age, they must partcipate and stone or be stoned themselves?

    Of course not.

    So how much else which seems to be 'laid down by law' and 'set in stone' in OT texts needs to be re-evaluated in the LIGHT of the teaching of Jesus Christ and his Apostles?

    Quite a lot and this issue of who can and does forgive sins is one of them. Human beings can only forgive sin against themselves, not sins against others.

    It's like Judge Roy Bean of the Wild West saying "There's no law against killin' an Indian" and then equitting the murderer. Put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man. Only God can forgive the sins of others.

    A priest can only pronounce God's forgiveness provisionally or in affirmation of an assurance from God to them that God has forgiven the truly penitent.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
  7. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well, let's investigate that.

    First, Christ was a practicing Jew and his Scriptures were what we call the Old Testament. Whenever Jesus said, "As it is written", he was referring to Scripture as an authority (Matt. 4:4, Matt. 4:7, Matt. 4:10). He also quotes from Scripture constantly (Matt. 5:21, Matt. 5:27, Luke 4:18-19, John 18:7, John 15:25, Mark 12:36, and many other places).

    In Matt. 5:17-18, Christ affirms the Law and declares that he came not to abolish it but to fulfill it.

    Finally, as the Son, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ participated in every act of God in the Old Testament. I cannot fathom why many Christians keep ignoring this fact, acting as though Jesus only sprang into being at the Incarnation. John 1:1-2 makes this point very clear. Every single act, command, decision, and behavior of God in the books of the Old Testament involved every Person of the Trinity. And since no Person of the Trinity can be in conflict with any other Person of the Trinity, we can say with assurance that all that was done, was done with the assent and cooperation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    None of Christ's teachings went against the teachings of the Old Testament because the divine Son created the Law. Men did evil in the Old Testament, to be sure; and they were punished for that evil by God. But never did God command, or require, that men commit evil, for this would be evil itself and a holy God cannot do evil. What God commands of men is by definition righteous and holy. (And if you think that God's destruction of the earth in the Great Flood, or his destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire, or his command for the Hebrews to exterminate the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15:3, was somehow evil, then you do not understand the nature of the God you worship.)

    But surely the death and resurrection of Jesus as our Savior moderated the nature of this harsh and judgmental God, right? The fate of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) should remind you that God's nature is eternal and unchanging.

    God is God. His actions and his commands to us are by his own will and his own plans (Ex. 33:19, Rom. 9:15). We do not judge our almighty God; he judges us.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Can we take it that you are in favour of going back to a bronze age legal system in line with Old Testament Biblical narrative rather than the system of Christian post resurrection ethics practiced by The New Testament Church?

    If not what is the difference that you see between the two social systems? OT vs NT, pre Jesus and after Jesus?

    Did Jesus change nothing about the way sanctions should be applied in the Kingdom of God?
    .
     
  9. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Since did you didn't actually reply substantively to the post I made, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. Is Jesus part of the Trinity or not? If he is, then was he with God the Father during the Old Testament or not? Did God somehow change his mind during the Old and New Testaments? If so, how? Doesn't that violate the concept of an impassable, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God?

    I read the Old Testament through the lens of the New, as all Christians should, but this is not to say that the New Testament overturns the Old Testament. It's a fulfillment, not an abrogation.
     
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  10. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I wish there was a stronger like than the simple like of a post. Maybe a hand clap or something. This post would get it.
     
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  11. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    If you want to understand how to understand Old Testament teaching through the teachings of Christ, you should read Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 3. Paul says that the Law of the Jews is good. The problem lies not with the Law, but with the Jewish hypocrisy in proclaiming the Law while at the same time violating it.

    In Rom. 2:25-29, Paul writes:

    Or as we read in Joel 2:13: "Rend your hearts and not your garments."
     
  12. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    from another thread,
    if it is true what is said there, then could it apply to this discussion on absolution?... instead of there being only predestination (awful), or only free will (terrible), they seem to have found a way to assert both, and it is perusuasive to me

    So could we not say the same thing here, both the forgiveness from God and the work from God's appointed ministers?.. After all, we do beg for forgiveness from God in the Lord's prayer, and yet we also say, as Anglicans, that --

    "Our Lord Jesus Christ hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him"

    The both-and just seems to me more fitting with God's mind than either-or... Any thoughts?
     
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  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    That’s what I was saying earlier. God is the one doing the forgiving, but through the minister He has appointed for that purpose. It’s both/and, not either/or.
     
  14. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I'm not suggesting the OT is out of alignment with the will of the Trinity. I'm suggesting that to base one's doctrine on the Old Testament legal system without consideration as to how one's interpretation of it needs to also be in line with the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ constitutes a foolisness and a departure from faith in Jesus Christ.

    For instance: The Old Testament tells us "Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD."

    Yet Jesus Christ himself said: "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever".

    Clearly this cannot be taken literally, yet even those who heard this metaphor uttered by Jesus of Nazareth must have known the strict prohibition against eating the flesh of a man and drinking his blood, so what is Jesus actually suggesting?

    Could it be that even Old Testament Law must come in second place to obedience to the teachings of The Master, the Disciple Leader, The Christ of God, The Messiah and those who place obedience to all Old Testament Law above obedience to Jesus Christ are looking for the preservation of their life from the wrong source because HE, the Christ of God, is the one and only scource of eternal life and obedience to HIM and HIS words is what is required of everyone, in order to obtain it.

    The Old is rapidly fading away, according to the writer to The Hebrews, and Jesus Christ has entered the Sanctuary on behalf of sinners who were made sinners by the Old Testament Law. Without the law they would not be sinners. But disciples of Christ now have an advocate with the Father to plead their case. Sabbath breakers for instance now have The Lord of The Sabbath himself, to defend them against the lethal accusation of The Law. Matt.12:8, MK.2:28, Luke 6:5. Flesh and blood eaters now have the Bread of Life to plead their case because his flesh is food indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. He who eats his flesh and drinks his blood in actual contravention of Old Testament law, abides in him, and he in them. Luke 13:11-21.

    Treating the New Testament Priesthood of the order of Melchizedek as if it is the same as the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Covenant is like denying The Atonement of Christ and his unrestricted access to the sanctuary of God.

    WE NEED NO LONGER NEED GO-BETWEENS TO OBTAIN ABSOLUTION FROM GOD. Anyone not believing that can always go to a priest if heavily burdened by guilt and obtain assurance of God's forgiveness if they confess and are truly repentant, but they only get ASSURANCE of forgiveness from the priest. Any actual forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ from God.

    This is why our intercessions go as follows: "Almighty God, you have promised to hear the prayers of those who ask in your Son's name; we pray that what we have asked faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord".

    You may have bought your hose on a mortguage and you had to strictly adhere to the terms of your agreement until the debt was paid and all was fulfilled. One it was fulfilled though you were no longer indebted to the mortgage company, because your repayments were fully fulfilled.

    There are some who think they still have a debt of obedience to more than just the moral Old Testament law, (which has itself even been fulfilled by Christ, according to what HE has said).

    These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

    Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.
    And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

    .
     
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  15. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Once more for the people in the back: God uses mediators to convey himself and his grace. He uses the clergy to give us his heavenly Body and Blood. He sent us his ministers to baptize and regenerate us. He uses ministers to Confirm us and give us the holy ghost. He uses teachers to speak for him; “How will they hear if no one will teach them?”

    Is God mute? And if not, then why is he using fragile fallible people to speak for him, in his name? Why can’t he just regenerate us without any clergy? Answer that.

    Nor is it just limited to the clergy. He uses our families to teach us about the interrelations of the Trinity. He uses our marriages to teach us about Jesus and the Church. He used physical people to write down his special Revelation. He uses our fathers to teach who he, The Ultimate Father, is like. He uses a visible bread and wine to convey to us awesome spiritual grace.

    Everything related to God is based on mediating his spiritual/invisible grace through natural and visible means. Why should absolution be any different?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    He only needs ministers if an individual does not ask directly to God in prayer. Other wise what it is the Lord's Prayer all about? Does a miniter need to pronounce absolution after it has been recited by the congregation? No. "Forgive us OUR trspasses as we forgive . . .".

    God uses the children of Abraham to preach, teach and give good judgment, but he does not need them to be oficially 'clergy'. God can raise up even stones to be children of Abraham. Luke 3:8.

    Unquestionably so.

    But not through prayer direct to God, you say?
    That's why. Otherwise prayer would not work unless there is a human intermediary instead of just Jesus, to assure us that our prayer has been heard and actioned by God.

    We speak, God hears, God answers. No middle man necessary, unless we lack faith in both God and prayer.
    .
     
  17. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What makes you think that the things you pray for there, including forgiveness, are granted instantaneously? Is God a genie from "Aladdin"?

    When you pray for God "to deliver you from evil", that may be enacted a few days, weeks, or years later.
    When you pray for God "to lead you not into temptation", and then are tempted a few minutes afterward, did God fail or did the prayer fail? Or is the fruition of that one time prayer going to come over time, perhaps years later?

    So we can go down the entire list of the Lord's Prayer, and you cannot assert that we are promised to see the results those prayers granted instantaneously. If indeed, everything we pray for may take long after the fact to come to pass, then the absolution we pray for, may come to pass long after, no?

    So then, who's to say that the results of that prayer won't be fulfilled in God sovereignly taking you by the scruff down to the divine service on Sunday where you end up being given absolution by the priest?

    In sum, prayers do not get instantaneously answered. And if prayers are answered with delay, then the answer to the prayer for forgiveness, may be that God won't let you sleep in on a Sunday but rather will make you go to church and receive absolution from his clergy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2021
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  18. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    What happens if you die before your sin is forgiven in absolution then? I don’t believe someone who isn’t forgiven of their sins can go to heaven….
     
  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Only God knows that.
     
  20. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    If we don't receive the sacrament, we can't be saved, right? So the same question applies there. And the same for children dying before baptism. And the same for lacking the holy ghost without confirmation.

    In the revivalist model (baptists and others), the Christian life is based on one single profession of faith. Everything else doesn't matter: the sacraments, the church, life-long holiness, everything is optional and/or irrelevant. From experience, we know that this model isn't correct.

    In the traditional model (pre-baptist forms of Christianity), the Christian life is based on a life-long formation and sanctification, becoming closer to God through an entire journey.

    That seems by far the correct model, from all available evidence. But what happens when you don't finish all the 'steps' before dying?

    To me it's a matter of what is certain vs. what is uncertain. Those who die without finishing the journey, we don't know what happens to them. We hope it ends well for them. But those who finish the journey well, we have confidence about them. We can say with St. Paul, well done my good and faithful servant, you have finished the race.