Skip to comments.Pick a sin, any sin (Confession gone awry)
Posted on 01/15/2007 3:01:40 PM PST by NYer
Q. On a couple of occasions at our church, we've had a "general confession." The priest told us to examine our consciences and then proceed to one of several priests in different parts of the church. He then told us to confess one of the sins we'd committed to the priest and return to our pew. All of our sins were forgiven.
Also, twice when I was sick and in the hospital, a priest came to my bedside and did not ask me to confess my sins. He simply gave me absolution saying, "your sins are forgiven you." -- A.M., Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The answer to this questions by The God Squad was rather lousy and did not address at all the serious aspects of this question. I assume it was Fr. Tom Hartman who answered the questions in part by saying.
Only mortal sins that imperil a person's soul need be confessed, and only mortal sins of which the person is aware. Smaller sins, called venial sins, are not generally the object of confession.
While what he says is mostly true, I don't know why so many discourage confession of venial sins. Do they really want the only persons in line to be ones confessing mortal sins? If this was true than in some ways the privacy of the sacrament would be removed since you could automatically assume the people in line had committed grave sins. Spouses would instantly come to the conclusion that if there spouse when to confession that they had committed a mortal sin. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
The confession of venial sins is strongly recommended by the Church, even if this is not strictly necessary, because it helps us to form a correct conscience and to fight against evil tendencies. It allows us to be healed by Christ and to progress in the life of the Spirit.
Now as to what is the "pick a sin, any sin" to confess this is just wrong on so many levels it is hard to take seriously. Let's see I murdered someone and also felt uncharitable thoughts about someone. I guess I will confess the uncharitable thoughts and get forgiven for the whole thing. Exactly how is the priest suppose to choose the penance based on the confession of only one sin? All sins forgiven for the confession of one is not exactly the package deal the Church offers.
Last but not least was the absolution without confession which seems to me to be a serious sin for the priest in a circumstance such as this. Absolution without confession could occur in the case of General absolution where there is danger of death and not the time for individual confession.
FWIW - the city of Plattsburgh is in the RC Diocese of Ogdensburg. Not sure what it is about the RC dioceses within the state of NY but many of them follow these liberalized views of Catholicism.
If they want to be Episcopalians and do general confession, there's probably a small if dwindling congregation somewhere in the area . . .
Sorry if this seems a little off-topic but when a person goes to Mass, there are so many prayers that are specifically directed to purify members of the congregation before they go to Communion, whether they've gone to Confession or not. I am not saying that Confession can or should be dispensed with because it is necessary even if a person confesses only venial sins. I thinkit is wrong for any priest to say, "Pick a sin, any sin ... " because these actions demean Confession.
Here was a golden opportunity for the pastor to drive home the importance of Reconciliation with these youth watching. It taught me a very valuable lesson. My 'sins' may have all been forgiven but I now cleanse my soul on a regular basis. Many thanks again, to my extraordinary pastor, whose admonition to his parishioners to 'attend Confession on a regular basis' usually results in a small handful of us who avail ourselves of this sacramental grace on the two definitive occasions provided each year, prior to Advent and Lent. Father provides a beautiful service (with private confession), filled with Maronite hymns, introspective reflection, and Scriptural and Gospel readings. At this year's Advent Reconciliation service, the majority of those in attendance were ALL Roman Catholics. They truly valued this opportunity to have their Confessions heard by a holy and devout priest, in a RC diocese rife with abuse.
the city of Plattsburgh is in the RC Diocese of OgdensburgThat's Fr. Dave's diocese. I suspect he's persecuted by many of the priests there. We need to keep him in our prayers.
General Aboslution services are against Canon Law unless there are too many penitents and not enough priests or if someone is ready to die and can't give a full confession.
Can. 960 Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the sole ordinary means by which a member of the faithful who is conscious of grave sin is reconciled with God and with the Church. Physical or moral impossibility alone excuses from such confession, in which case reconciliation may be attained by other means also.
Can. 961 §1 General absolution, without prior individual confession, cannot be given to a number of penitents together, unless:
1° danger of death threatens and there is not time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;
2° there exists a grave necessity, that is, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available properly to hear the individual confessions within an appropriate time, so that without fault of their own the penitents are deprived of the sacramental grace or of holy communion for a lengthy period of time.
A sufficient necessity is not, however, considered to exist when confessors cannot be available merely because of a great gathering of penitents, such as can occur on some major feastday or pilgrimage.
§2 It is for the diocesan Bishop to judge whether the conditions required in §1, n. 2° are present; mindful of the criteria agreed with the other members of the Episcopal Conference, he can determine the cases of such necessity.
Yipes. I can't even imagine that. Although I will say that there were years and years where I didn't go to confession, simply because nobody wanted to hear it and I wasn't about to make a special appointment at the rectory to chat with Fr. Fruitloop.
The Church has always taught that confession must be COMPLETE. If you have committed three mortal sins, it does no good to go in and confess only two of them. In fact the deliberate avoidance of confessing the third sin makes the confession itself sinful.
The Sacrament of Penance is, as the name says, a Sacrament. It has long been taught that there is a grace in making frequent confessions, and that goes for the confession of any venial sins. Sinning can grow habitual, and confession is one way to try to cut back on some of these habitual sins.
This is biblical, too. One of the central messages of the Gospels, the good news, is the message of repentance and forgiveness that was preached by John the Baptist and repeatedly emphasized throughout the New Testament.
This was also the message that led so many pagans to convert to Christianity: the opportunity to repent, confess your sins, and be forgiven. Priests who stand in the way of making this essential sacrament available to their flocks are guilty of serious dereliction of their priestly duties.
That wasn't your current pastor, was it?
###"diocese of Richmond."###
I've been to a Mass once in Virginia Beach. Bad, bad, it was my last.
There may be some elements of faith embedded within the tradition of your local church which needs to be respected, but regardless of denomination or locality, ever believer needs to keep short accounts with God.
We are all indwelled by God the Holy Spirit, but whenever we step away from Him we sin. In order for God, the Holy Spirit to conitune in His enabling ministry of further sanctifying our thinking, our soul, our mind, and our heart, we must return to Him by 1John 1:9. When we turn back to Him with our volition we have repented. When we confess our sins to Him in private, then by 1John 1:9 we are assured we have returned to fellowship with Him.
Immediately at that point, we may continue with Him sanctifying us by our continual worship of Him. Through faith in Him in Bible study, Mass, the Eucharist, any number of wyas by which we take on the mind of Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.
Without confession, even the least sin is significant enough to scar our thinking such that we might wrongly believe we are free to live in asceticism or in lasciviousness. Without confession, when we study the Scripture, we might scar our thinking in a legalistic fashion or mold our thinking around our own independent world, making order out of chaos by our rules instead of His. Some of the most treacherous worldly sins are sins in religion, where the out of fellowship believer falls into ritualistic habits as a substitute for fellowship with God through faith in Christ.
It's smart to keep short accounts.
"In kind, and number"
I'm going to disagree about this being a problem. For one thing, it is NOT General Absolution. Our parish does this, and while it may not be the optimal situation, at least these folks are getting the grace of individual confession. These Penance Services are usually held during Lent and Advent, and there are a LOT of parishoners who attend them. Who knows? Folks who attend may be led by the Holy Spirit to take the opportunity to come to confession one Saturday afternoon, thus leading them into a deeper life with Jesus.
I've seen a lot of OCA parishes do general confession (I do feel that it's better than nothing at all when folks are comonly going to communion without confession.)
One of the things I like with ROCOR is they're pretty strict that you should confess before any time you receive communion. That and they ask to make sure you're Orthodox when you go to confession.
I believe the only way a general absolution can be given to a group of people all at the same time without prior individual confession is when a group of soldiers are preparing for a battle in which it is likely that some or all will be killed. My understanding is that if they survive, they are then supposed to go to individual confession, to confess the sins they would have confessed if there had been the opportunity.
**He then told us to confess one of the sins we'd committed to the priest and return to our pew. All of our sins were forgiven.**
This doesn't sound up to par for me.
**I believe the only way a general absolution can be given to a group of people all at the same time without prior individual confession is when a group of soldiers are preparing for a battle**
Or when there is an emergency -- say, heaven forbid, some sort of spreading and dangerous attack in a nearby city. (Read what you want to into my description -- I just didn't want to put the real word in print......!)
Our priests are very conscientious in the confessional -- I know my first confession took a LONG time!
Another example: A large group of firefighters were given general absolution by Fr. Mychal Judge in fron to fhte burning WTC prior to heading up the staircase on 9/11.
It brought me great comfort to know that these brave men were forgiven of their sins before meeting their demise.
mis-spell "in front of the burning WTC"
Better yet... how about eliminating the 'middle man' and do exactly what Jesus said (Lord's Prayer), i.e. pray to His heavenly father and ask Him directly for your sins to be forgiven.
I thought venial sins were wiped away after receiving the Eucharist during mass (and with a spirit of asking forgiveness).
Why not just set up a "drive-through" window on the side of the church?
Seriously, wouldn't it just be better to stop sinning?
I prefer asking God for forgiveness than some fellow human sinner.
Yes indeed but some always feel better making things 10X more complicated than they need to be... Sigh...
"Yes indeed but some always feel better making things 10X more complicated than they need to be... Sigh..."
Yea, I always thought the Lord had an open door policy.
In sales I always wanted to talk with the decision maker rather than gatekeepers who had to find ways of justifying their existance.
No one in their right mind would fall for this in the corporate world... "Well you know, I have absolutely zero authority to make any commitments or decisions, don't really know very much about the details of this deal, but you should talk to me instead of "Mr Big".. LOL!
That wouldn't be any better than what we have today. Too many just thinking they can do what they want, and that it will be OK. Oh, we might ask Jesus to forgive us the first couple of times, but we humans have a nifty way of justifying what we do, if we are not held accountable, and don't have to admit what we do to anyone here on earth. We could just slip into sinful ways, turn away from God and just keep on moving until we're so far away from Him, we don't hink we need Him at all.
That's the beauty of the confessional. It's just me and the priest, and he's not telling anyone. But I can tell him, and admit out loud in front of a witness, the sinful things I've done, and I know that God will forgive me. That keeps me on the straight and narrow, because I know I have to admit to someone else what I've done.
That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So if a person thinks doing 'X' is not wrong, then why on earth would they confess doing 'X' to their priest? If you have a 'right' conscience and a heart to do what God wants, you would have no problem confessing to Him, otherwise you're not. Think this thru... Have you ever confessed something to a priest that you didn't think your Heavenly Father knew about or didn't see???
Thanks be to God.