Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Integral Confession

God is present in every Confessional
I've had a few interesting moments in the past few weeks contemplating the Sacrament of Confession. I suppose that it will always be in my mind, and that is no bad thing! In a rather good book I wrote on the subject (link here) I said that the Sacrament was a weather vane for the spiritual life - don't think that you're on the right track if it has been many, many years since your last Confession.

I just had a rather long conversation with someone about this and after we had gone round and round the subject a number of times it still comes back to the simple fact that the norm is full, integral Confession, and we need it to be.

Yes we can have communal penitential services, but that leads to full integral Confession.

Priest Hearing Confession
But if Priests give off any hint that they have more important things to do, then Satan will rejoice and the faithful will not come.
And if Priests suggest that the faithful no longer need Confession, then Satan will rejoice and the faithful will not come.
And if Priests put on penitential services and there are not enough Priests, and the Priest then goes out, thanks them all for coming, apologises and says that they might like to come back at another time, then Satan will rejoice and the faithful will not come.

Why? Because we are telling them that there is something more pressing than their Confession... and it may have been set up that way, with the lively expectation that there will not be enough Priests. And if they only come once a year, when do you think they will return?

Montgomery Clift in I Confess
Now, I have been called a rigorist before (not by anyone, to my knowledge, who has experienced the Sacraments from me) but with Confession I take no prisoners. It is THE most important Sacrament in the everyday lives of people. I know that you need Baptism to receive the rest and that the Holy Eucharist is the fons et origo - the fount and origin - of all the others, but confession is the Sacrament that resets the spiritual life after our sin. And that's what is needed now: a re-set, a re-start. If you're doing fine then the Sacramental life of the Eucharist is sublime, but unless the grace of Confession has been given and received, then it does no good.

Anything that downplays Confession is not of God.

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