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Source: (consider it) Thread: Eccles: Confession
Olaf
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# 11804

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quote:
Originally posted by ChaliceGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin L:
I can see why Anglicans would want a grille, or would want to confess to a priest they don't know. Several factors:

1) Anglican priests usually stay around for quite a bit longer than RC priests
2) Anglican priests may have spouses (someone with whom they might potentially share everything, even though one should trust that they don't)
3) Anglican priests may have children with whom you are friends--it might be awkward to confess to the parent of one of your friends
4) It's a safe bet that Anglican priests do not receive the volume of confessions as their RC counterparts, giving them less "in the trenches" experience
5) Roman Catholic priests are easy to think of as "otherworldly" because of their celibacy and a general perception of detachment from worldly concerns

Interesting reasons, but none of these reasons are my reasons for wanting to confess anonymously!

I was thinking along the lines of "what if I confess something really embarrasing and personal, i.e. sexual, etc"? I'd be embarrassed to look at my parish priest every Sunday after telling him something of that nature.

Your reason certainly goes along with the above ones, though. It would be tough to look a priest in the face who has been around long enough to know (and befriend) your parents and grandparents, to have mutual acquaintances/friendships, and to be fully integrated into the community.

Roman Catholic priests are typically by no means quiet, anti-social people, but they are usually on the "fringe" of the community--always invited to events, always friendly, but detached from the community by an invisible wall of sorts.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Max.:
The Confession at mass is a quick "Sorry" for our Sins and the priest simply asks for God to bless and forgive our sins, however it's not an absolution because an absolution calls upon the authority of Christ and his church to bring us to everlasting life.

This is a tricky one though.

The scriptural backing (I know, I know) for the idea of absolution is "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." - John 23:23 (NIV). It seems to me then that a priest praying for God to forgive sins can only not be an absolution if the priest is saying 1) "Lord, forgive them because I sure as hell don't" or 2) "Lord, I'm asking you to forgive them but I know you won't unless they get absolved properly."

Now if 1) is happening, the prayer is meaningless because "if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" so the priest is asking something contradictory. If 2) is happening, then the prayer is not only meaningless but dishonest.

So I conclude that the Catholic recommendation towards private/personal confession is actually based on this being of profound spiritual benefit and of it being necessary to receive the forgiveness (where possible) in a more concrete way to give it greater effect in this life, which is what you would expect of something identified by the Church as one of the seven Sacraments.

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cor ad cor loquitur
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I can think of 7 different ways of framing an act of absolution; people more skilled than I in linguistic philosophy would be able to label these as indicative, deprecative and so on.

1) "God absolves you from your sins"

2) "God absolves us from our sins"

3) "May God absolve you from your sins"

4) "May God absolve us from our sins"

5) "I absolve you from your sins"

6) "God has absolved you from your sins"

7) "God has absolved us from our sins"


RC priests use (5), and I think Russian Orthodox do as well, though some say that this is a "Latin influence". Do other Orthodox use (1)? I have seen a Coptic confession ritual that uses (4).

I have also read that some Orthodox do use a "general" (group) confession in addition to individual confession. Can any Orthodox shipmates confirm this?

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Quam vos veritatem interpretationis, hanc eruditi κακοζηλίαν nuncupant … si ad verbum interpretor, absurde resonant. (St Jerome, Ep. 57 to Pammachius)

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The Scrumpmeister
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quote:
Originally posted by cor ad cor loquitur:
5) "I absolve you from your sins"

...

RC priests use (5), and I think Russian Orthodox do as well, though some say that this is a "Latin influence". Do other Orthodox use (1)?

You're right. I have seen service books give a "Russian form" and a "Greek form" of confession, although the differences extend to beyond just the words of absolution, including the structure and other prayers used. I suspect that any churches that follow the Slavic rather than the Greek Use of the Byzantine Rite will also use that form.

The absolution to which I am accustomed is this:

quote:
May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of his love for mankind, forgive thee, my child, N. all thy trangressions. And I, an unworthy priest, by the power given to me by him, do forgive + and absolve thee of all thy trangressions: in the Name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen,
I, too, have heard that this is a western influence and, while it may be true that it is a non-Orthodox influence on the text, it certainly isn't in theology. The priest having authority from Christ to forgive sin is right there in Scripture. Besides, any suggestion (and people do accuse the Slavic formula of expressing this idea) that the priest is acting instead of Christ is shown by the invitation to confession to be unfounded:

quote:
Behold, my child, Christ standeth here invisibly and receiveth thy confession. Wherefore, neither be thou ashamed nor afraid, and hide thou nothing from me. Rather, fear not to tell me all that thou hast done, so that thou mayest receive forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, his Image is set before us, and I am but a witness, bearing testimony before Him of all that thou tellest me. But if thou hide anything from me, thou shalt have the greater sin. Take heed, therefore, lest, having come come to the Physician, thou depart unhealed.
quote:
I have also read that some Orthodox do use a "general" (group) confession in addition to individual confession. Can any Orthodox shipmates confirm this?
To my knowledge, group confession has never been ruled out of Orthodox practice. I believe that the practice of the early Church was for all to confess openly, before the assembled Faithful. (Can anybody confirm this?) Certainly, there have been modern examples of this, as in the case of the spiritual children of Blessed Seraphim of Platina, where individuals would confess their sins in the presence of all. What I think hasn't been accepted as a substitute for this is the practice of saying a corporate prayer acknowledging our general sinfulness. Such general confession and absolution does feature in some of our Western rites, such as immediately before Communion in the Mass of St Gregory, but my understanding is that it is always in addition to, rather than instead of, regular, frank confession before a priest.

quote:
Originally posted by Martin L:
Interesting reasons, but none of these reasons are my reasons for wanting to confess anonymously!

I was thinking along the lines of "what if I confess something really embarrasing and personal, i.e. sexual, etc"? I'd be embarrassed to look at my parish priest every Sunday after telling him something of that nature.

Before I say anything at all, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not sitting in judgement of you, Martin L. It is simply that what you have said has reminded me of an exchange that I read a few days ago earlier on this thread and to which I had intended to respond but could not as I simply didn't have the time to at work.

I can relate directly to what you have said here, largely because I, too, felt the same way. I went through years of denying that the gneral confession for me was a cop out and simply didn't cut it, yet I couldn't bring myself to confess to a priest who knew me. When I finally mustered up the courage to ask a priest-acquainance of mine if he would hear my confession, he told me that he could not as he hadn't been ordained yet for more that five years, (let's not even go into that). Anyway, at first that threw me but I later used it as an excuse to myself for not making confession.

You see, in my case, it was pride, and nothing else. Yes, on the social level, I was embarrassed, but of what significance ought that to have been where confession was concerned? I was respected and had a certain reputation, and I set that over and above honesty and my own salvation simply to save face. I think that people were a bit hard on Max earlier when he said this:

quote:
Surely the embarressment factor is pride in the first place?
I would only question his use of surely for I cannot know anybody else's heart with any certainty. Otherwise, I don't see anything wrong with what he said, and rather suspect that the reaction of some was because it struck a nerve.

On the night before my Baptism, I made a passing reference in my confession to what I had wanted to confess for so long, and I was baptised the following day. Yet it was over 18 months later, once I had grown accustomed to properly examining myself and facing my sins, and having some accountability before my spiritual father, did I eventually confess this. In the end, I was reminded that I had received absolution for this at my Baptism, but it wasn't half a weight lifted.

Pride is something of which we're all guilty. I still get embarrassed before each confession because yes, I know that what I have done time and time again is out of accordance with how I strive to live my life and the profession that I make before the world. Yet facing that takes humility that doesn't come easily for me. I am envious of people who are immediately aware of their wrongdoing, make their peace with those they have wronged, and readily confess. I need examination and preparation, and sometimes a forthright confessor who will not let me get away with veiled references to sins, such as I got rather unsuspectingly once last year.

Having grown like that, I would feel very much as though I had regressed if I were to revert to a short, corporate, acknowledgement of sinfulness. I need to challenge myself to grow, to pray, to fast, and to strive in my journey of deification by God's grace. It is too easy to become complacent, and pride is a catalyst for this.

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If Christ is not fully human, humankind is not fully saved. - St John of Saint-Denis

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El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by Cyprian:
I, too, have heard that this is a western influence and, while it may be true that it is a non-Orthodox influence on the text, it certainly isn't in theology. The priest having authority from Christ to forgive sin is right there in Scripture.

No it isn't [Biased]

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Ξέρω εγώ κάτι που μπορούσε, Καίσαρ, να σας σώσει.

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The Scrumpmeister
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Is this the bit where you tell us that this is another portion of Scripture where the English translations inaccurately reflect the original Greek? [Razz]

Seriously, though, I have heard objections to this form but I genuinely don't see how they hold up.

The portions of the Slavic rite that I quoted above don't seem to me to be a departure in any way from an Orthodox understanding of this, as the priest is confessing his own unworthiness and stating that what he does is only by the authority of Christ.

Is there something obvious that I'm just failing to see?

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If Christ is not fully human, humankind is not fully saved. - St John of Saint-Denis

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El Greco
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That was my short answer.

My long answer is this.

When the priest experiences the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit informs him that He forgives the person that confesses his sins to Christ our God. And because the priest gets informed, he can assure the person confessing that his sins are forgiven.

According to Saint Symeon the New Theologian, one of the rare few* Saints to speak on confession, that's what the Lord meant when He granted that authority to His disciples. He didn't grant the authority to everyone, because the mysteries of the Church do not work in a magical way. It's about our personal relationship with God, and when we don't even experience God's presence, then things get tough.

In fact, Saint Symeon goes even further, saying that God seeing how wicked priests became, he took that gift from them, and he gave it to monks.

Anyway, for my part, I prefer the Byzantine way, where the priests, like in all Mysteries, pray to God that He forgives the man that confesses his sins. Everything is offered to God, and it is in His will to do whatever He wants. Like it is with all the mysteries.

The priest, points the person that confesses to God's mercy and love, and, if he is a real priest and not an impostor who has no love for God at all, and no interest in divine things, he assures the person of God's very real mercy and love for him/her.

A quick google search gave this:

quote:
O God our Savior, Who by Thy prophet Nathan granted unto repented David pardon of his transgressions, and have accepted the Manasses' prayer of penitence! Do Thou, in Thy love towards mankind, accept also Thy servant [name] who repents of his sins which he has committed, overlooking all that he has done, pardoning his offenses and passing by his iniquities. For Thou hast said, O Lord: I have desired not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from the wickedness which he has committed, and live. And that even unto seventy times seven sins ought to be forgiven. For Thy majesty is incomparable, and Thy mercy is limitless, and if Thou shouldst regard iniquity, who should stand? For Thou art the God of the penitent, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Of course, it is done through the priest, just like the eucharist is done through the priest, but that's different from saying that the priest has been given authority from Christ to forgive sin!

And because I don't want to make a lecture while the other Shipmates here are in a confessional mode (yeah, pun intended), I'd like to share a very unorthodox confession I had (what, you thought only Max would have all the fun?)

I went to see a priest (who is also a monk) for confession, and I went into his church. He found me and he asked me to follow him to his office. He offered me a seat. I remember he began by saying that what you have in your mind about confession might not be what I have in mind about the mystery. And we discussed. Well, he mainly did most of the talking, and I didn't want him to stop speaking, because I was in heaven.

When I left his office, I felt trouble free, and that experience was lasting! It was amazing.

Definitely not what's in the rubrics, but also, definitely eye opening and issue resolving experience. Glory be to God for all things!

* In fact, I have read in a book that confession is the mystery which the Church has done the less theology on, compared to the other mysteries...

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Ξέρω εγώ κάτι που μπορούσε, Καίσαρ, να σας σώσει.

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Cardinal Pole Vault

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quote:
Originally posted by §Andrew:


My long answer is this.

When the priest experiences the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit informs him that He forgives the person that confesses his sins to Christ our God. And because the priest gets informed, he can assure the person confessing that his sins are forgiven.


How does the Holy Spirit do all this 'informing'?

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"Make tea, not war"

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El Greco
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I don't know about people like Saint Symeon, for whom the presence of the Holy Spirit was conscious and unceasing, but I can relate to that expression "get information" (it's actually a very common expression in Orthodox stories from the elders of the Saints) as an ordinary (and not as an extra-ordinary man like Symeon!) man, when we pray to God about someone, and we experience God's warming presence in our hearts and we know that what we ask of God He will grant... but sometimes we pray and we pray and nothing happens, you know, and you know that something's wrong or that you haven't prayed with a clean heart enough for your petition to be accepted? Well, from that, I can relate to the expression, but I don't know what the elders or the Saints or the holy people in general experience.

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Ξέρω εγώ κάτι που μπορούσε, Καίσαρ, να σας σώσει.

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CuppaT
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On corporate confession:
Naturally, we all say the pre-Communion prayers, hopefully privately at home, and the one of St. John Chrysostom during the Divine Litugy: I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ....

But I think you perhaps mean something more by corporate confession? There is no other out loud, all together prayer that is prayed as a confession of sins by Orthodox that I know of, but there have been exceptions made over the years by certain saints. In a life of my dear Father John of Kronstadt that I read years ago I read about such a thing. He was well known for being a good confessor, clairvoyant and all. It came to be that too many people would crowd to him before the Liturgy to have their confessions heard, so he told them to bow their heads and say their confessions aloud, all together, then and there, from where they were standing, every single sin aloud with no shame and none left out, and he would absolve. Now, not everyone can get away with this. Those who did not make a full confession and hid things in their hearts he refused at the Altar when they came forward to receive, and talked to lovingly later, I'm sure. There is no shirking or pretense from the eyes of a man who can read hearts. His Liturgies were attended by thousands, and this happened frequently.

CuppaT

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Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it any longer, draw back a little and have a cup of tea.
~Elder Sophrony

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Dubious Thomas
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quote:
Originally posted by §Andrew:
quote:
Originally posted by Cyprian:
I, too, have heard that this is a western influence and, while it may be true that it is a non-Orthodox influence on the text, it certainly isn't in theology. The priest having authority from Christ to forgive sin is right there in Scripture.

No it isn't [Biased]
I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed that the follow-up to "No it isn't (right there in Scripture)" was a lengthy post focused mostly on the teachings of Saint Symeon the New Theologian (A.D. 949 - 1022), and which didn't once reference Scripture.

I'm still waiting for an explanation how Jesus' statements in Matthew 16:19 and John 20:22-23 don't amount to "the priest having authority from Christ to forgive sin," as Cyprian put it.

This, of course, assumes that priests have received the authority given by Christ to the Apostles ... but it seems me that the folks involved in this part of the thread (Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholics) are working with that assumption.

For the record, while the 1662 C of E BCP has formulations where the priest always simply pronounces God's absolution (unless I have missed an "I absolve" somewhere!), which appears to me more in line with the Greek Orthodox approach, the American Episcopal Church 1979 BCP provides for the priest to say "I absolve you" (see, e.g., pages 448 and 451).

I don't have any problem with this change -- which puts our approach in line with that of Roman Catholicism -- because it seems to me to be in accord with Scripture.

DT

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שפך חמתך אל־הגוים אשר לא־ידעוך
Psalm 79:6

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El Greco
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Ah, it was a reference to the Saint making exegesis for the passage. References to other scriptural passages are not always going to explain what a passage means. And since Cyprian has another way of understanding Scriptures than others here do, the exegesis I shared mattered (i.e. I didn't have to point to another passage to "shed light" on that one. That might be a venerable Protestant practice, but that's about it).

Anyway, the whole point is that Christ's sayings have an ontological content. This, compared to the fact that Christ's authority has to do with being, and He does not give His authority to us, simply because we do not possess the capability of saving others, explains why the priests do not have any authority to act in the place of Christ, why this doesn't work out. But this thread isn't about the theology of confession, so let's not get carried away...

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by §Andrew:
...when we pray to God about someone, and we experience God's warming presence in our hearts and we know that what we ask of God He will grant... but sometimes we pray and we pray and nothing happens, you know, and you know that something's wrong or that you haven't prayed with a clean heart enough for your petition to be accepted?

You would make a good Pentecostalist, Andreas. Or at least a Methodist. That sounds like straight from the horse's mouth from a dozen or two charismatic evangelical sermons I must have heard.

Of course a conservative evangelical or a Calvinist would want to point out that our feelings don't count for much. We are standing on the promises of God and we can know that God will accomplish what he has said he will accomplish, whether or not "we experience God's warming presence" or even if the person praying hasn't prayed with a clean enough heart. Because its not our prayers (or the prayers of the priest) that save us, its God's grace. And its not our feelings that tell us we are saved, its God's word.

[ 23. May 2008, 17:45: Message edited by: ken ]

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Dubious Thomas:
For the record, while the 1662 C of E BCP has formulations where the priest always simply pronounces God's absolution (unless I have missed an "I absolve" somewhere!), which appears to me more in line with the Greek Orthodox approach, the American Episcopal Church 1979 BCP provides for the priest to say "I absolve you" (see, e.g., pages 448 and 451).

In 1962, the form for private confession is found in the Ministry to the Sick, and the form "I absolve thee" is indeed used. Is this another 1662/1962 difference?

Interesting about 1979. In Canada, the BAS did away with the Prayer Book's use of the direct form, noting in the explanatory notes that it is a late development, and changes it to "...God...through my ministry absolve you..."

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El Greco
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ken

First, who said anything about feelings? Feelings is something we experience, yes, but it's not the only thing that we experience.

And second, unless we have a relationship with God, what's the point? If we can't know God through experiencing HIm, then we are left with a man-made religion, where all we do is speak about God, and do good to others for God or because of God, and study books and have thoughts and feelings about God, but never get to actually know that God exists...

I mean, what's the point of having people telling you that you are saved, but you yourself do not experience any real* salvation?

*that sounds like the "real presence". As if we can have a presence that isn't real. But I want to draw some emphasis on salvation being a true "upgrade" of being, rather than something we speak and hear about but we don't actually live!

ETA: Cross-posted with LQ

[ 23. May 2008, 18:14: Message edited by: §Andrew ]

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Ξέρω εγώ κάτι που μπορούσε, Καίσαρ, να σας σώσει.

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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quote:
Originally posted by §Andrew:
First, who said anything about feelings?

You did, just now!

quote:

And second, unless we have a relationship with God, what's the point?

Well, yes, exactly.

quote:

... a man-made religion ... but never get to actually know that God exists...

who said anything about that?

quote:

I mean, what's the point of having people telling you that you are saved, but you yourself do not experience any real salvation?

Well yes - but it was you talkng about what the priest tells you in confession

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Rosa Winkel

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Well put Ken.

God is much more than our feelings, Andy boy. You should know that by now. There's deffo something in 1 John somewhere about 'even if our hearts condemn us one should know that God's love is stronger than our hearts'.

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The Disability and Jesus "Locked out for Lent" project

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El Greco
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
Well yes - but it was you talkng about what the priest tells you in confession

???

The priest talking is not the end of it! After every confession I had, I was a new man... The result is life, not words, nor sentiments.

And that's what I have to say to ChaliceGirl, from my experience within the Orthodox Church... With one clause of caution: Not all confessors are good: You have to be extra-careful about the man you open your heart to, because you might get hurt or get reckless advice. Choose your spiritual father with discernment and you will find that fulfilling and helpful in your relationship with God and others, and healing to the heart.

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Spiffy
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The confessor only absolves you if the Holy Spirit 'tells' them to absolve you?

Sounds too much like Ouija boards to me. It also allows for that ever-present human error issue which could lead a confessor who desires power over salvation to abuse. No, thank you, I'm not signing up for that. Either absolve all who make the long walk up to confess or don't offer yourself up as Christ's stand-in.

[ 23. May 2008, 18:44: Message edited by: Spiffy ]

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Dubious Thomas
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quote:
Originally posted by LQ:
In 1962, the form for private confession is found in the Ministry to the Sick, and the form "I absolve thee" is indeed used. Is this another 1662/1962 difference?

No, it's the same thing in the 1662.... You found the "I absolve thee" I had missed. The full priestly statement given there in 17th century English is what appears in the American 1979 "Reconciliation of a Penitent" rendered in modern English, as one of the options for absolution. The other statement the priest can use has "Our Lord Jesus Christ ... absolve you through my ministry...."

To use an expression Ken did in another context, the American 1979 offers a typically "Anglican fudge," allowing for both a direct "I absolve" and an indirect "Christ absolves," apparently at the discretion of the priest.

quote:
Interesting about 1979. In Canada, the BAS did away with the Prayer Book's use of the direct form, noting in the explanatory notes that it is a late development, and changes it to "...God...through my ministry absolve you..."
The BAS seems to be drawing on the same stream as the 1979 American BCP for this usage, though it drops the "Anglican fudge" ... I've always been suspicious of the BAS! [Big Grin]

I'm sure all kinds of discussion has gone on about which I am completely unfamiliar.

In any case, "is a later development," has become a common way of marking something to be eliminated from Anglican practice in favor of "reversion" to something supposedly earlier... as if what developed later is automatically problematic. [Roll Eyes] Mind you, I'm the one who grumbled about confessional boxes being a "late-Medieval innovation"! [Hot and Hormonal] ... So, it works this way ... late innovations are bad, unless I like them; then they're good. [Big Grin]

DT

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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As a late comer to this thread, a lot of ground has already been covered. I am mindful of the Anglican maxim of making a private confession - all may; some should; none must. This same advice would seem to apply under its modern name of Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I am now in the habit of making my confession only when I go to Walsingham, so I have a different confessor each time. For me, once a year is quite often enough; for I have my besetting sins which I commit over and over again, whereas certain other sins have no place in my nature. Consequently, my "sin list" is more or less identical each time I go, which is why personally, I would have a problem with frequent confessions.

Do what you feel is right for you about whether you confess to a priest who is a stranger, or whether it is a priest you know well. One is obviously living a sincere and a devout life, or one wouldn't be going to confession in the first place. In that way, as far as I can see, if a penitent is genuine, then the sins being confessed are not likely to be embarrassing.

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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I forgot to say that I am used to both confessional boxes and face to face. To me, it doesn't matter.

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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecclesiastical Flip-flop:
I am mindful of the Anglican maxim of making a private confession - all may; some should; none must. This same advice would seem to apply under its modern name of Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I have to say that as Max's dreaded Triden-teen I know it is one of those terms I am not supposed to like (like "celebrating" instead of "offering" Mass), but I think that "Reconciliation" is preferable, since it encompasses all the usual alternatives: "confession," "penance," and "absolution."
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Knopwood
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quote:
Originally posted by Spiffy:
The confessor only absolves you if the Holy Spirit 'tells' them to absolve you?

Sounds too much like Ouija boards to me. It also allows for that ever-present human error issue which could lead a confessor who desires power over salvation to abuse. No, thank you, I'm not signing up for that. Either absolve all who make the long walk up to confess or don't offer yourself up as Christ's stand-in.

Interestingly, in +Michael Ingham's companion to the BAS, he is critical of his subject (in my count) a total of two times. One is for not explicitly providing an order for Compline (one was later published as a supplementary separate volume). The other is for removing the reference to the retention of sins in the ordination of the priests. In what strikes me as a rather un-Inghamlike statement (indeed, on this point, I'm more "liberal" than him, and agree with you, Spiffy) he notes that, while somewhat puzzling, this authority is found in the Gospels and should not be dispensed with without explanation.
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quote:
Originally posted by Ecclesiastical Flip-flop:
For me, once a year is quite often enough; for I have my besetting sins which I commit over and over again, whereas certain other sins have no place in my nature. Consequently, my "sin list" is more or less identical each time I go, which is why personally, I would have a problem with frequent confessions.

And that is a good thing, to go to confession sincerely repenting and desiring to turn from sin and do it no more. Each time. Going once a year is more than some people in my own Orthodox parish seem to do. But there is a beauty to frequent confession that you may be missing. If you determine to go, say, once a month (I had it easy -- I was told to do so), and confess, "I did it again; I'm sorry", it is very hard and embarrassing to have to keep going to the same person and saying the same things. Honestly, you get sick of hearing yourself. You either cry out in desparation to the Lord to take the Thing away from you, or you ask the priest how to over come it, or whatever. Somehow, you more really are desparate to not sin again in that besetting way, even though you were truly sorry all those earlier times. Now you honestly want to be done with it and start to live differently. Infrequent confession won't usually get you on that path with an ingrown sin. Frequent confession just might.

By experience,
CuppaT

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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Thanks CuppaT for what I am sure is good advice. This is very likely where I am missing out and it would take a spiritual director to guide me and I don't have one at the moment. Some years ago, I was advised by a priest hearing my confession to go either fortnightly or monthly - I forget which. Unless one is in the right place such as living in or near Walsingham, it is difficult to find an Anglican cleric who would have room for hearing frequent confessions.

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quote:
Originally posted by Dubious Thomas:
quote:
Originally posted by ChaliceGirl:
Ok I have another Confession question: when the priest absolves everyone after the general confession during a service, is he/she absolving him/herself self too?

As a layman, I've always assumed that was the case. I'd be interested in hearing from some Anglican priests on what they believe they're doing when they pronounce the general absolution.

DT

I was always taught that part of the reason the priest washes his/her hands at the lavabo before the Prayer of Consecration, is precisely because one cannot absolve oneself; they are the only person in the service whose sins have not been absolved by the General Confession and Absolution. The whole point of confession and absolution is that relationship is restored - which means it needs a relational context.

My first training rector always signs herself during the confession itself as a reminder that she too needs God's forgiveness and pardon.

As a mere deacon of course I can't absolve; but there is provision in several of our Prayer Book services for the minister taking the service to give an assurance of pardon (eg, If we repent of our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, etc).

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Bookworm
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quote:
Originally posted by ChaliceGirl:
I was thinking along the lines of "what if I confess something really embarrasing and personal, i.e. sexual, etc"? I'd be embarrassed to look at my parish priest every Sunday after telling him something of that nature.

One of the blessings of being Episcopalian/Anglican is that you can go to a male or female confessor. If you're a woman, some things are (a little!) easier to confess in the presence of a woman, etc., whether you know the confessor personally or not.

And I actually think there can be something very powerful and grace-filled about receiving the eucharist from the hands of a priest who has also been your confessor.

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Max.
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quote:
Originally posted by Nunc Dimittis:
I was always taught that part of the reason the priest washes his/her hands at the lavabo before the Prayer of Consecration, is precisely because one cannot absolve oneself; they are the only person in the service whose sins have not been absolved by the General Confession and Absolution.

Yeah - it's a nice idea but it's not actually very accurate, priests are still supposed to go to confession just like anybody else. It's a bit of a problem now as there are a lot of priests who have to travel miles to make a confession, a lot of priests I'm sure celebrate the Eucharist after committing some kind of sin or grave disorder and they haven't been to confession. It's a rather worrying situation.


The lavabo actually has an interesting history, being celebrated BEFORE the offertory and symbolised purity. People could only approach the altar and take part in the Eucharistic meal whilst being pure and in the Ethiopian Rite (I mentioned that the Ethiopian Church have been untouched by modern Christianity on the Crosses and Crucifixes in Churches thread) they still do this, they also don't dry their hands but the priest flicks the water onto the congregation to remind them of this.

The Catholic Church moved the Lavabo to its present position in the Middle ages and the emphasis now is a lot more boring. It's simply washing hands before handling the gifts so that no dirt will fall upon the host when it's consecrated.


Not quite as exciting is it?


Max

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Random Cathoholic
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quote:
Originally posted by Max.:
The lavabo actually has an interesting history, being celebrated BEFORE the offertory and symbolised purity. People could only approach the altar and take part in the Eucharistic meal whilst being pure and in the Ethiopian Rite (I mentioned that the Ethiopian Church have been untouched by modern Christianity on the Crosses and Crucifixes in Churches thread) they still do this, they also don't dry their hands but the priest flicks the water onto the congregation to remind them of this.

This stirs a memory in my hind-brain. I remember reading, a long time ago, that there are still some very old churches around Europe which have absolutely enormous holy water stoups (there's on in a church near me). The reason for this, it went on, is the mediaeval tradition - particularly in rural areas - of blessing oneself enthusiastically with holy water: it wasn't just making the sign of the Cross with the fingers, rather it was a ritual washing of the hands and sometimes the head.

Any experts in mediaeval piety care to comment? Did I actually read this, or was I imagining it?

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The Scrumpmeister
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quote:
Originally posted by Max.:
People could only approach the altar and take part in the Eucharistic meal whilst being pure and in the Ethiopian Rite (I mentioned that the Ethiopian Church have been untouched by modern Christianity on the Crosses and Crucifixes in Churches thread) they still do this, they also don't dry their hands but the priest flicks the water onto the congregation to remind them of this.

That happens in the Liturgy of St James as well (Antiochene rite), and in the Byzantine Rite when the bishop serves.

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Random Cathoholic:
I remember reading, a long time ago, that there are still some very old churches around Europe which have absolutely enormous holy water stoups (there's on in a church near me). The reason for this, it went on, is the mediaeval tradition - particularly in rural areas - of blessing oneself enthusiastically with holy water: it wasn't just making the sign of the Cross with the fingers, rather it was a ritual washing of the hands and sometimes the head.

[tangent] A much more splendid and meaningful use of holy water than the mimsy anglo-catholic custom of the server, on the way out of the sacristy, dipping fingers in the holy water and offering a moist digit to the following priest. [Disappointed] [/tangent]

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Knopwood
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Since my own parish has no holy water, I tend to be quite un-Anglicanly generous when in places that do have it. [Hot and Hormonal]
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Max.
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quote:
Originally posted by Random Cathoholic:
quote:
Originally posted by Max.:
The lavabo actually has an interesting history, being celebrated BEFORE the offertory and symbolised purity. People could only approach the altar and take part in the Eucharistic meal whilst being pure and in the Ethiopian Rite (I mentioned that the Ethiopian Church have been untouched by modern Christianity on the Crosses and Crucifixes in Churches thread) they still do this, they also don't dry their hands but the priest flicks the water onto the congregation to remind them of this.

This stirs a memory in my hind-brain. I remember reading, a long time ago, that there are still some very old churches around Europe which have absolutely enormous holy water stoups (there's on in a church near me). The reason for this, it went on, is the mediaeval tradition - particularly in rural areas - of blessing oneself enthusiastically with holy water: it wasn't just making the sign of the Cross with the fingers, rather it was a ritual washing of the hands and sometimes the head.

Any experts in mediaeval piety care to comment? Did I actually read this, or was I imagining it?

That's quite interesting because I've noticed that in more Charismatic circles, people tend to do a lot with Holy Water, possibly taking a little sip of the water (ew), washing their foreheads etc.
I quite often will very irreverently pour some on my head if I'm feeling hot and back home in Somerset, I have had a few water fights with kids in the church with holy water from our bucket (we don't have a stoup, we used to have one but it fell off the wall too many times that now it doesn't really hold water for longer than a couple of minutes)

I would've thought that the medieval mind would've thought of Holy Water as a gift. Water cleanses, it sustains and refreshes just as the Sacrament of the Eucharist does. As we enter the church we remind ourselves of the sacramental qualities of water, the waters of baptism and we remind ourselves that we were washed clean of our sins at baptism. So by pouring holy water upon ourselves and by doing a ritual washing, we would be calling to mind all these themes!

I guess that's why you get this in the charismatic circles also (although my irreverent playing with Water with kids is simply being Joyful in the Lord!)


Max

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ChaliceGirl
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I love Holy Water too and wish my church had it.

Stoups aren't all that expensive, are they?

[ 05. June 2008, 01:54: Message edited by: ChaliceGirl ]

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Pommie Mick
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You could simply have a bowl with holy water placed at the entrance of the church - an easy and cheap option.
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CuppaT
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quote:
Originally posted by Bookworm:
quote:
Originally posted by ChaliceGirl:
I was thinking along the lines of "what if I confess something really embarrasing and personal, i.e. sexual, etc"? I'd be embarrassed to look at my parish priest every Sunday after telling him something of that nature.

One of the blessings of being Episcopalian/Anglican is that you can go to a male or female confessor. If you're a woman, some things are (a little!) easier to confess in the presence of a woman, etc., whether you know the confessor personally or not.

And I actually think there can be something very powerful and grace-filled about receiving the eucharist from the hands of a priest who has also been your confessor.

I don't know if it is true in other traditions, but in the Orthodox Church the priests forget whatever they have heard in the confession after it is said. To some degree it is a gift. But on the other hand, really, there is nothing new under the sun. There just aren't that many sins! And they are rather boring. We may be rightly embarrassed by having committed them before God and the priest, and it is completely right to come and get rid of them, but they are nothing that the priest has not heard before lots of times, probably that he has not done himself. He is a man after all and understands being made of dust.

On the contrary, it is not embarrassing to look a priest in the eye after confession, maybe not the first second afterwards when your eyes are full of tears, but the next day when you are going up for Communion, his eyes will be full of love, (if he's really thinking of you at all, you know, because, really, the whole world does not center about you; I speak more about me than anyone else).

CuppaT

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quote:
Originally posted by CuppaT:
I don't know if it is true in other traditions, but in the Orthodox Church the priests forget whatever they have heard in the confession after it is said.

If he is a good priest, yeah. That's how things are supposed to be in the Orthodox Church. But if he is not... [Devil]

Good thing that in your countries mostly people that really love Christ become Orthodox priests, so the ratio good:bad priests is rather high! Than God!

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ChaliceGirl
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I have an update on this.

Well, I went ahead and did it!

I'd rather not say where, except that it was not in my hometown, and it was in a church that had a confessional that had a kneeler with a screen, plus a chair in front of the priest so that you could have both options of being anonymous or face-to-face.
Before I went, I kind have rehearsed what I was going to say. This should help, right?

Well, no.
I got in the confessional, kneeled at the screen. The priest said the opening lines (can't remember them right now).

I blanked out! I totally froze. [Eek!]
I said I was sorry, and I was a bit anxious. The priest asked me if I'd like to sit in front of him and relax. So I came out from behind the screen and sat in front of him. Hetold me that it was ok and to relax, which was nice.
He asked me some basic questions like my age, marital status, etc. I confessed some things that I won't repeat here (that's confidential!) and he was very calming when he spoke to me. He gave me counsel, absolved me, and told me to go in peace. he also shook my hand.

Afterwards, I was kind of shocked that I went through with it. I felt a mix of emotions, most of them good. I'm glad I did it and will do it again! I kneeled before the altar before leaving the church. I stayed there for a good 5 minutes or so. I felt at peace and was very moved.

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Anselmina
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ChaliceGirl, thanks for telling us about that experience. And it's great that it was so positive and you obviously had a pastorally hearted priest who knew what to do with your nervousness.

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aig
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I think the inability to speak when it comes to your actual confession (as opposed to the bits helpfully written down) is not uncommon. I have been in that situation at least once. I think its like getting into cold water - you just have to go for it, say something (anything!) and the rest will come - sort of, anyway...

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ten thousand difficulties
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I've had a lot of experiences, some really helpful, some pretty awful. I made a confession, face to face with my parish priest before I became a Catholic. I looked at my shoes and he started talking to me about the Easter present I'd just given him half way through. When I moved away we had no regular time; it wasn't used enough. You just had to 'grab a priest.' So I had confession in the crypt, behind the altar and in the corridor. I can recommend where in central Manchester is good...

In London, Brompton Oratory is notorious. I love the place but confesssion... I'd think twice. First of all ancient confesionals so you have to try really hard to not not hear the person in front of you. Secondly, a serious dressing down. One reduced me to tears. When I mntioned this to someone she said, 'but everyone knows not to go to Brompton! What were you thinking?' I go Westminster when I can. Anonymous and they're pretty good. I don't like it either when they just give you absolution not advice.

I hate confessing to someone I know so W.C. is great. My parish priest and I are very close so confessing to him is really hard. We have to look each other in the eye over dinner afterwards, although he does know all my boyfriend troubles since time imemrorial.

I must admit I was quite upset by having to discuss a very serious personal situation in an open church last week at my new parish priest. I'm on the reader's rota with the lady who was sitting at the back of the church and I didn't want her hearing what she could have heard. We could at least appeal for some privacy.

Bring back the confessional or at least the seperate room!

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ChaliceGirl
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I went to confession again, this time in a church without a confessional, in an Anglo Catholic church about 45 minutes from home. The priest sat inside the altar rails and I kneeled in front of him. We followed the Reconciliation of a Pentinent form in the BCP.

Confession was scheduled for a half an hour but it looked like I was the only one who showed up for confession!

Anyway...it was a good experience. I was very happy with the priest, he was very kind. I think I may make him my regular Confessor.

Tenthousand, There's no way you should be forced to disclose personal stuff in the open. Why not ask your priest if you can speak to him privately?

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Ecclesiastical Flip-flop
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So soon ChaliceGirl!? You must have told the priest when your last confession was, and what did he say to you when you said, "A fortnight ago"?

As I indicated, personally I have a problem with frequent confessions.

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Max.
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I think frequent confession is a good thing and I would say that it's preferable to go to confession at least twice a month.


Max.

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glockenspiel
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But would not that kind of frequency be an indication that the sacrament wasn't actually working? I note that the only time that this issue resulted in a doctrinal statement, the church obliged us to go once a year. Can't remember which council that was - can any shipmates fill us in on that, and the background to it??
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Max.
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No. The primary purpose of the Sacrament of Reconcilation is to absolve us from our sins, bringing us back into a fuller personal relationship with God.

The Sacrament doesn't promise to stop us from sinning. That's our own responsibility.
I think it's nearly impossible to stop sinning completly as a result of our flawed nature but at the end of reconciliation we put forward a promise to God that we intend to stay clear of occasions of sin.
But because of our human nature, we open to temptation and we fall short of what is expected of us and we sin and so we go back to confession.

It could be likened to a child learning to walk, one small mistake and *thud* the child is on his knees crying his little eyes out with a tiny little graze. That child has two choices, sit and mope about the graze, refusing to get up again should he fall again or he could get up, dust himself off and keep walking. Each time he gets up, his legs get stronger and more used to walking, he learns that putting feet under rugs is only going to result in him tripping so he steps OVER the rugs, he learns that stairs are dangerous and need to be climbed with care.

Confession is like getting up, each time we go to confession we become stronger, we learn to avoid occasions of the sin, we dust ourselves off and we keep on walking. As we walk, we learn to avoid sins that make us fall, only occasionally falling. We come across new obstacles which make us fall and again all we can do is get up and dust ourselves off in the confessional.


Max.

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For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Posts: 9716 | From: North Yorkshire | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
El Greco
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Each person has different needs. Even at different points of our lives we have different needs. Confession shouldn't be restrained by some imaginary time limits, but should be available when someone feels there is a reason to go to confession (and even when one doesn't feel there is a reason; sometimes we are too blind to our own sin and the discernment of a spiritual father might help).

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Ξέρω εγώ κάτι που μπορούσε, Καίσαρ, να σας σώσει.

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Adam.

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quote:
Originally posted by Ecclesiastical Flip-flop:
So soon ChaliceGirl!? You must have told the priest when your last confession was, and what did he say to you when you said, "A fortnight ago"?

As I indicated, personally I have a problem with frequent confessions.

I would hope he said nothing at all about the length of time! As ChaliceGirl is an Anglican, I don't believe she is subject to any rules as to the frequency of her confession. RCs are subject only to a minimum frequency; there is no maximum.

Why should she have to wait longer than she feels she wants to for such a life-giving rite?

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
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glockenspiel
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quote:
Originally posted by Max.:


The Sacrament doesn't promise to stop us from sinning. That's our own responsibility.

Max.

I beg to differ, at least in regard to the sin we have specifically stated to the priest. It's our responsibility to discern what needs, above all, to stop, in order for us to move on in our life and faith. When we've put it into words, and into God's hands, job done.
Posts: 1258 | From: Shropshire | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged



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