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Pick a sin, any sin (Confession gone awry)
Curt Jester ^ | January 15, 2006 | Jeff Miller

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.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Moral Issues; Prayer
KEYWORDS: ny

1 posted on 01/15/2007 3:01:42 PM PST by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

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.


2 posted on 01/15/2007 3:04:37 PM PST by NYer (Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven. St. Rose of Lima)
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To: NYer
Man, that is just nutty! What were they thinking?

If they want to be Episcopalians and do general confession, there's probably a small if dwindling congregation somewhere in the area . . .

3 posted on 01/15/2007 3:11:39 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: NYer

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.


4 posted on 01/15/2007 4:17:56 PM PST by Ken522
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To: AnAmericanMother
This actually happened to me, here in the RC Diocese of Albany. Having been asked by my parish pastor to teach a class of Confirmation students, I wanted to set an example for them when it was time to go to Confession. It had been many, many years but I bit my tongue, swallowed my pride, offered up many prayers and proceded to 'lead the way' to our pastor, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (my students all held back and watched, ensconced in their positions in the front pews). When I told him how many years it had been since my last confession, I naively expected him to "welcome" me home. On the contrary, he responded with: "I hope you don't expect to confess x number of years worth of sins. Please pick one." I was totally stunned! (further evidence of just how long it had been :-).

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.

5 posted on 01/15/2007 4:19:23 PM PST by NYer (Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven. St. Rose of Lima)
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To: NYer
the city of Plattsburgh is in the RC Diocese of Ogdensburg
That's Fr. Dave's diocese. I suspect he's persecuted by many of the priests there. We need to keep him in our prayers.
6 posted on 01/15/2007 4:59:52 PM PST by eastsider
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To: 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; annalex; ...

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.


7 posted on 01/15/2007 5:21:44 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, insects)
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To: NYer
We were given the same thing about confession when I lived in the diocese of Richmond. Even new Catholics coming in through RCIA were told to confess only one sin. After decades of sinning why bother confessing only one sin? Liberal nuttiness.
8 posted on 01/15/2007 5:25:42 PM PST by k omalley (Caro Enim Mea, Vere est Cibus, et Sanguis Meus, Vere est Potus)
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To: NYer
On the contrary, he responded with: "I hope you don't expect to confess x number of years worth of sins. Please pick one."

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.

9 posted on 01/15/2007 5:34:34 PM PST by livius
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To: NYer

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.


10 posted on 01/15/2007 5:40:19 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: NYer

That wasn't your current pastor, was it?


11 posted on 01/15/2007 6:01:44 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: k omalley

###"diocese of Richmond."###

I've been to a Mass once in Virginia Beach. Bad, bad, it was my last.


12 posted on 01/15/2007 6:10:30 PM PST by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed.)
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To: NYer

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.


13 posted on 01/15/2007 6:22:52 PM PST by Cvengr
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To: Ken522
Part of the Introductory Rites of the Mass.

THE INTRODUCTORY RITES

The Act of Penitence

51. Then the priest invites those present to take part in the Act of Penitence, which, after a brief pause for silence, the entire community carries out through a formula of general confession. The rite concludes with the priest's absolution, which, however, lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance.

On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Act of Penitence, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.56

The Kyrie Eleison

52. After the Act of Penitence, the Kyrie is always begun, unless it has already been included as part of the Act of Penitence. Since it is a chant by which the faithful acclaim the Lord and implore his mercy, it is ordinarily done by all, that is, by the people and with the choir or cantor having a part in it.

As a rule, each acclamation is sung or said twice, though it may be repeated several times, by reason of the character of the various languages, as well as of the artistry of the music or of other circumstances. When the Kyrie is sung as a part of the Act of Penitence, a trope may precede each acclamation.

Venial sins are forgiven at this point. All mortal sins (grave sins) must be confessed one to one. No one may receive communion with grave sin on the soul.
14 posted on 01/15/2007 6:25:23 PM PST by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed.)
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To: NYer

"In kind, and number"


15 posted on 01/15/2007 6:43:35 PM PST by right-wingin_It
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To: NYer

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.


16 posted on 01/15/2007 7:08:42 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: NYer

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.)


17 posted on 01/15/2007 8:03:32 PM PST by kawaii (Orthodox Christianity -- Proclaiming the Truth Since 33 A.D.)
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To: NYer

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.


18 posted on 01/15/2007 8:06:14 PM PST by kawaii (Orthodox Christianity -- Proclaiming the Truth Since 33 A.D.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

No


19 posted on 01/15/2007 11:56:07 PM PST by NYer (Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven. St. Rose of Lima)
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To: Coleus

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.


20 posted on 01/16/2007 7:20:23 AM PST by nanetteclaret (Our Lady's Hat Society)
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To: NYer

**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.**

Hmmmm.

This doesn't sound up to par for me.


21 posted on 01/16/2007 7:27:25 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Examination of Conscience

A Guide for Confession

How To Make a Good Confession (especially if you haven't gone in years)

Why Go to Confession? (Part 1) - Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Bruno Forte

Why Go to Confession? (Part 2) - Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Bruno Forte

Why Go to Confession? (Part 3) - Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Bruno Forte

Pulling Sin up by the Roots: The Need for Mortification

Reasons for Confession [Sacrament of Reconciliation]

Cardinal Stafford's Homily at Penitential Liturgy With an Examination of Conscience

How to Go to Confession

22 posted on 01/16/2007 7:29:16 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nanetteclaret

**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......!)


23 posted on 01/16/2007 7:33:07 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
Thank the Lord! I just couldn't see that - didn't compute.

Our priests are very conscientious in the confessional -- I know my first confession took a LONG time!

24 posted on 01/16/2007 7:57:55 AM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Salvation

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.


25 posted on 01/16/2007 9:35:54 AM PST by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: Rutles4Ever

mis-spell "in front of the burning WTC"


26 posted on 01/16/2007 9:36:23 AM PST by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: SuziQ
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.

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.

27 posted on 01/17/2007 1:47:11 PM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: NYer

I thought venial sins were wiped away after receiving the Eucharist during mass (and with a spirit of asking forgiveness).


28 posted on 01/17/2007 1:49:27 PM PST by diamond6 (Everyone who is for abortion has been born. Ronald Reagan)
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To: NYer

Why not just set up a "drive-through" window on the side of the church?


29 posted on 01/17/2007 1:53:10 PM PST by Proud2BeRight
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To: NYer

Seriously, wouldn't it just be better to stop sinning?

I prefer asking God for forgiveness than some fellow human sinner.


30 posted on 01/17/2007 1:55:38 PM PST by Proud2BeRight
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To: Proud2BeRight
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...

31 posted on 01/17/2007 2:35:21 PM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited

"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.


32 posted on 01/17/2007 3:17:16 PM PST by Proud2BeRight
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To: Proud2BeRight
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!

33 posted on 01/17/2007 5:35:11 PM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited
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.

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.

34 posted on 01/17/2007 11:37:41 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ
Too many just thinking they can do what they want, and that it will be OK....But I can tell him, and admit out loud in front of a witness, the sinful things 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???

35 posted on 01/18/2007 3:26:37 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: Rutles4Ever

Thanks be to God.


36 posted on 01/25/2007 8:15:12 PM PST by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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To: AmericaUnited
It is more than just confessing ones sins. It's counsel and direction to a more deeper relationship with Christ and his church,the body of Christ. It can be very comforting to confess ones sins and then be counseled on the matter of those sins. Just in these last few months while in confession,yes I still refer to it as such,the priest helped me on a personal problem I had with my husband. He was so gentle,and loving and prayed with me. I am always grateful of Gods mercy afterwords. And then of course is the penance which can be a most profound way to show the sorrowfulness of our sins.And some very good priest can be very creative in giving penance. Especially when holding anger and hatefulness in your heart for someone else.Confession is indeed a great gift of love and mercy.
37 posted on 01/25/2007 8:31:34 PM PST by red irish (Gods Children in the womb are to be loved too!)
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