Monday, January 25, 2010

CONFESSIONS

Holy Face Monastery

Every Saturday afternoon at 1:30pm, a line begins to form on the stairs. People are waiting. At 2pm the door is unlocked. We wait 30 seconds - then open the door. We walk into the small room through the foyer. In the summer, it is stifling hot. In the winter, the same. On one side, a line of chairs, the other, standing room only. The room is filling up. Mothers with their children, Nuns in full habit, men standing quietly holding their rosaries. We are waiting. From the next room comes a voice, "I'm ready." The one sitting closest to the door stands up - opens the door, and walks into the confession room. Knees fall onto the kneeler - the metal curtain is drawn to the side - and those familiar words that we remember from our childhood flow easily from our lips "Bless me Father, for I have sinned." We have come home - to Holy Mother Church - where we receive forgivness from Our All Merciful God.

We pray You,
O almighty and eternal God!
Who through Jesus Christ
hast revealed Your glory to all nations,
to preserve the works of Your mercy,
that Your Church,
being spread through the whole world,
may continue with unchanging faith
in the confession of your name.

Amen.

2 comments:

Gabriella said...

Thank you, Brian. One never speaks enough of the wonderful sacrament of confession.
This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins ( Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power "glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (note the plural "men"). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:21–23).

Since it is not possible to confess all of our many daily faults, we know that sacramental reconciliation is required only for grave or mortal sins—but it is required, or Christ would not have commanded it.

Over time, the forms in which the sacrament has been administered have changed. In the early Church, publicly known sins (such as apostasy) were often confessed openly in church, though private confession to a priest was always an option for privately committed sins. Still, confession was not just something done in silence to God alone, but something done "in church," as the Didache (A.D. 70) indicates.

Penances also tended to be performed before rather than after absolution, and they were much more strict than those of today (ten years’ penance for abortion, for example, was common in the early Church).

But the basics of the sacrament have always been there, as many early writings reveal. Of special significance is their recognition that confession and absolution must be received by a sinner before receiving Holy Communion, for "whoever . . . eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27).

p.s.: I will pray for you the whole day on the 1st March - God bless you.

Brian said...

Gabriella -

Thank you so much for your kind words.

You are a blessing!!