Skip to comments.Confessing to 'sins' is booming in America (Evangelicals and Protestants take up practice)
Posted on 09/22/2007 6:09:42 AM PDT by NYer
Americans are flocking to confess their sins as Protestant churches have joined their Catholic counterparts in modernising the sacrament of penance.
Thousands of people are attending confession at weekends and just as many are posting their repentance on videos that are played back to congregations or shared on websites such as YouTube.
New technology is fuelling the boom, but so is clever marketing by Churches that are portraying confession as a form of self-improvement — always popular with Americans — rather than some sort of punishment.
Church leaders also attribute the boom to the fashion for self-analysis peddled by daytime television programmes such as The Jerry Springer Show and to a wider theological trend in which Christians are looking for firmer moral guidance.
Some Protestant churches are trying to make confession less forbidding, allowing people to shred their sins in paper shredders, for example.
In a shopping mall in Colorado Springs, three Catholic priests are available to hear confessions six days a week in a small office equipped with a box of tissues and the Ten Commandments.
The priests say they hear 8,000 confessions a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Pope ordered priests to make confession a priority in February, but the changing attitude of Protestant denominations is more surprising.
Although some theologians say that Martin Luther opposed private confession to a priest, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church – which has 2.5 million members – voted this summer to revive the ritual after ignoring it for a century.
The Catholic Church opposes group confessions and those conducted on the internet but some of its US parishes have had considerable success with special confession events.
More than 5,000 people attended a "reconciliation weekend" in Orlando, Florida. A "24 Hours of Grace" penitence open house held by five parishes in Chicago drew 2,500 people. A rotating team of 70 priests listened to their confessions.
Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando sent out 190,000 pamphlets in March asking local Catholics to confess.
He told the Journal: "Every day on Jerry Springer we see people confessing their sins in public and, certainly, the confessional is a lot healthier than that show."
Protestant denominations are less averse to using new technology in their confession drives. More than 7,700 people have posted their sins on ivescrewedup.com, a confession website launched by the evangelical Flamingo Road Church in Florida.
The XXX Church, an anti-pornography Christian group, videotaped members confessing their use of pornography and put the video on YouTube. It has since been watched 15,000 times.
Jordy Acklin, 21, a student who appeared in the video, said: "There's a reason why they talk about confession in the Bible – you're not supposed to keep it inside you. The weight just goes off your shoulders."
What about the sins that are 'retained'?
Like the Eucharist during the liturgical movement and Mary in recent years, Protestants are slowly rediscovering the value in what they rejected 500 years ago and which the Catholic Church has known all along.
How does that work?
These bogus "confession" practices don't have the safeguards (or the validity) of the Real Thing.
Good news here!
It doesn't ... that's just the point. It's as bogus as igniting them on a barbeque. Only a priest can forgive sins - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
in essence, our separated brethern, welcome to the party....
Adoration chapels that look like dentists' waiting rooms, with the Blessed Sacrament in a gold canister up on a brick mantel with sometimes not even a potted plant.
Catholic school graduates who are as ignorant as dirt concerning the truths of our Faith. (One of Nancy Pelosi's grown daughters, a Catholic University graduate, said a few months ago that the Pelosi family had, collectively, 100 years in Catholic schools, and not once was any of them told that homosexual acts were sinful.)
And Confession neglected. My parish of 800 households schedules confessions for 45 minutes a week. How about yours?
Listen to this old hypocrite Mrs. Don-o. I need a good Confession myself. Maybe I'll elbow myself into going this afternoon.
Well, what do ya know!
And THAT is supposed to replace hearing the priest, acting as Jesus, say our sins are forgiven? rme
You're right, but look on the bright side. If what jacero10 says in #3 is true, this could eventually evolve into the Real Thing. And that would be cause for celebration.
Seriously, it is a shame that so many spiritually beneficial and holy practices were tossed out by so many churches.
Confessing your sins on a video, on Jerry Springer, shredding them in a shredder might be viewed as good.
But they are all missing THE key element of the Sacrament of Reconciliation — the absolution of God, through the prieist.
These people do not KNOW if their sins are truly forgiven; they are just assuming that they are. Not so. There is a lacking element. And Catholics know what that is!
**45 minutes a week. How about yours?**
Our priest had 60 minutes scheduled on Saturday evenings and has added 30 minutes on Wednesdays. Our parish had grown from approximately 500 families five years ago to over 1000 families this year.
Says something about what is happening!
Yes, frequent Confession is good. Used to go every six months. Then went to every two months, then every month, now I don’t let myself go over two or three weeks. It’s amazing how aware I have become of my sins.
The Words of Absolution as so important! And Protestants don't have it because their ministers are not ordained sacramentally.
|1449 The formula of absolution used in the Latin Church expresses the essential elements of this sacrament: the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness. He effects the reconciliation of sinners through the Passover of his Son and the gift of his Spirit, through the prayer and ministry of the Church:
Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as bragging, just realizing more and more the sins that I commit.
LOL, that may come, that may come... ;-)
**What about the sins that are ‘retained’?**
And what do they say and do to show that they are sorry for their sins and firmly resolve to amend their ways?
Some of the things cited seemed more showmanship that sorrow. Just my opinion.
Of course we do...And on top of that, we know we are saved, we have salvation, right now...
This is a start and I don't think that we, as Catholics, should be knocking it.
A GOOD Protestant confession (not withholding sins) should at least count as a perfect act of contrition if done in the right spirit... God's grace is certainly capable of working outside the visible Church to aid our separated brethren.
If anything, we should be encouraging the practice, as it brings those that practice it one step closer towards communion.
Utter silliness and balderdash.
There is one, and only one, who needs to hear our confessions of sin. He is the only one who forgives them, too.
Though I thoroughly reject most Catholic teaching and its claim to monopoly on saving truth, on this point I am in absolute agreement.
I understand confession doctrinally, from a different perspective, perhaps limited in context to His forgiveness of sin in His sanctification process.
For example, we are told to remain in prayer continually.
I know that when I sin, it doesn’t happen to happen when I’m in faith through Christ is all of my thinking. On the contrary, one common denominator in all sin, I’ve found, is that it always occurs independent of faith through Him.
So now comes the issue of post salvation sin and sanctification. In order for God, the Holy Spirit to be free in His immutable nature, to sanctify us, there must be something He finds righteous in us.
When we turn our thinking back to Him, (i.e. true meaning of repent, not emotional, simply turning back to Him, a brokenness in our independent thinking away from Him), then He can see our faith as righteous.
The second step of our return is confession.
I think a lot of people get confused on this point, thinking that if we apologize, God is simply being courteous in responding to us and forgetting our sin. I don’t think that is the mechanic ongoing in confession.
What I perceive is that when we sin (post salvation sin) there is a fearful expectation of condemnation in us. That expectation is because we know our Lord Christ Jesus died for our sin, and that when we are faithful through Him, He provides our salvation. I don;t find in Scripture where God jerks salvation away from us when we sin, but in our souls, our thinking processes, there is a natural anticipation, an expectation, that in a fair transaction, when we fail to remain faithful, He is not obliged to hold up the consequent end of the covenant, the deal. IMHO, this thinking is premature, because when Christ paid for all sins on the Cross, God already knew from time in eternity past, exactly who was going to be saved and who wasn’t. He still died for our sins. It was His Sovereign act in deity and in humanity to provide that propitiation for sin.
Nevertheless, in our thinking, whenever we sin, we naturally do not anticipate salvation any longer, even though once in His Royal family, we are there for eternity. Bit when we return to Him in repentence, He is free to return to us.
When we confess the sin, known and unknown, we also then have assurance from His payment on the Cross, that by 1stJohn 1:9, He is sure and just to forgive us those sins.
Confession, as I understand it, is a thinking mechanism between us and God, though faith in Christ, whereby after our repentance and confession, He is then free to continue our sanctification process and we stop scarring our soul requiring His double work in our thinking processes.
Confession is then a purely private matter between the believer out of fellowship and God the Father, through faith in Christ.
I also observe many temptations for distraction when we involve others in the confession process. For example, instead of relying 100% on God, through 100% faith through Christ alone, there is a tendency to focus on a different person when discussing our sin. That human we are discussing the issue with might afford some academic tutoring, but in no way whatsoever has authority from God to influence our very personal human spirit. We aren’t priests to the priest to the High Priest to God. Our route is to God the Father, simply through one High Priest in our individual priesthood, which only God Himself has given us, and no other.
Confession through third parties invites a counterfeit thankfulness on the part of the believer towards the priest being confessed through instead of Christ, our High Priest.
Another temptation arises for third parties to gossip regarding our sin. This promotes a worldly system of morality as a counterfeit the the system of sanctification which God has provided us through faith in Christ and allowing God the Holy Spirit perform all His work in us in accordance to His Plan.
WRT confession, I see a thinking process, which perhaps may also be involved psychologically (in the soul) which might even have physical aspects. We are told not to go to sleep while a sin is in our heart towards our fellow man. We also have provisions and allegories of the heart as being used in the soul to purify our thinking processes while we remain in fellowship with Him. It strikes me that one aspect of confession, might actually be to prevent physical aspects of renewing our mind happen in a fashion that doesn’t scar our thinking, but promotes our sanctification.
One of the worst aspects of sin, is the scarring of our thinking processes, our soul. The next time our thoughts encounter a similar sequence or environment where we sinned in the past, our scarred thinking tends to replicate the past thinking. Habits on thought are formed, in sin, as well as in sanctification. Even though God may have forgiven us, our body and thinking (soul) might still be scarred to sin, such that we have a greater propensity to sin in that area than when we never encountered the temptation earlier. In this respect, I see confession as a very personal aspect to reduce our propensity to succumb to temptation, but again only through faith in Christ.
If we use confession as an external method, for others to keep us from sin, we simply are forming a worldly counterfeit to faith in Christ, interrupting the issue before us and substituting the authority of others for our own volition.
Do you know of any other passages in Scripture which expand more upon confession than the issues strictly between God and the believer returning to Him?
**Confession, as I understand it, is a thinking mechanism between us and God, though faith in Christ, whereby after our repentance and confession, He is then free to continue our sanctification process and we stop scarring our soul requiring His double work in our thinking processes.
Confession is then a purely private matter between the believer out of fellowship and God the Father, through faith in Christ.**
I think we will have to agree to disagree on this because in doing as you say, one does not know for sure that his or her sins are forgiven.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we DO KNOW that God forgives our sins. To me, that is a big difference.
The crowds who witnessed this new power "glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Matt. 9:8; note the plural "men"). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his Apostles, 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 20:2123).
The sacrament of Confession is a precious and wonderful gift from God, Who alone can forgive sins.
Sure we do, through faith in Christ He acts in us very really and spiritually. Otherwise our faith is nothing more than rationalistic thinking.
I’ll confess through faith in Him 10-40 times daily, sometimes more, sometimes less, but the object is to remain in faith with Him in all things at all times.
(9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Thanks for the comment about reconciliation, though, and the ref to Sacraments. I’ll go back a review abit.
Thanks, #31 intended for yourself.
And I hope for Mrs. Don-O too. She is the one who quoted the scripture for you.
I am inclined to think of the revival of confession in non-Catholic groups as a positive sign that they may be realizing that they have a need, of which the non-sacrmanetal confession is a first step towards the fullness of truth and sacramental validity, in the Church. It is hard to read a book such as “The Faith of the American Soldier” by the Protestant Mansfield, which tells of our soldiers in the Middle East participating in impromptu prayer services with a kind of liturgy and non-sacrmanetal confession, before heading off on patrol, without thinking that the Good Lord will honor this kind of thing in some way.
I also recall reading that St Ignatius Loyola made a non-sacramental confession before the Battle of Pamplona, in which his leg was shattered and the process of his conversion was thus begun. There are many other such cases evidently, including that it was a widespread practice in Japan during the times of persecution and absence of priests. Discussing this, O’Malley also says in passing: In Europe it was accepted practice for persons in danger of death to confess their sins to a layperson when no priest was available. From: OMalley, The Jesuits II: Culture, Sciences and the Arts 1540-1773
The “Chapter of Faults” and spiritual direction with confession, to a lay “spiritual father” in many monasteries also served a somehwat similar purpose, as I vaguely understand it. This seems true in Orthodox monasteries today as well.
Here’s the discussion of “Lay Confession” from the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910):
This article does not deal with confession by laymen but with that made to laymen, for the purpose of obtaining the remission of sins by God. It has no practical importance, and is treated merely from an historical point of view.
It is found under two forms: first, confession without relation to the sacrament, second, confession intended to supply for the sacrament in case of necessity. In the first instance, it consists of confession of venial sins or daily faults which need not necessarily be submitted to the power of the keys; in the second, it has to do with the confession of even grievous sins which should be declared to a priest, but which are confessed to a layman because there is no priest at hand and the case is urgent. In both cases the end sought is the merit of humiliation which is inseparable from freely performed confession; but in the first no administration of the sacrament, in any degree, is sought; in the second, on the contrary, sacramental confession is made to a layman for want of a priest. Theologians and canonists in dealing with this subject usually have two historical texts a basis. The optional and meritorious confession of slight faults to any Christian is set forth in Venerable Bede’s “Commentary on the Epistle of St. James”: “Confess your sins one to another” (Confitemini alterutrum peccata vestra). “It should be done”, says the holy doctor, “with discernment; we should confess our daily and slight faults mutually to our equals, and believe that we are saved by their daily prayer. As for more grievous leprosy (mortal sin), we should, according to the law, discover its impurity to the priest, and according to his judgement carefully purify ourselves in the manner and time he shall fix” (In Ep. Jacob, c.v; P.L., XCIII, 39). Clearly Bede did not consider such mutual avowal a sacramental confession; he had in mind the monastic confession of faults. In the eleventh century Lanfranc sets forth the same theory, but distinguishes between public sins and hidden faults; the first he reserves “to priest, by whom the Church binds and looses:, and authorizes the avowal of the second to all members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and in their absence to an upright man (vir mundus), and in the absence of an upright man, to God alone (”De celanda confess.”, P.L., CL. 629). So also Raoul l’Ardent, after having declared that the confession of venial sins may be made to any person, even to an inferior” (cuilibet, etiam minori), but he adds this explanation: “We make this confession, not that the layman may absolve us; but because by reason of our own humiliation and accusation of our sins and the prayer of our brethren, we may be purified of our sins: (Hom. lxiv, P.L., CLV, 1900). Confession to laymen made in this way has, therefore, no claim to a sacramental character and provokes no theological objection. The passage from Bede is frequently quoted by the Scholastics.
The other text on which is based the second form of confession to laymen, is taken from a work widely read in the Middle Ages, the “De vera et falsa poenitentia”, until the sixteenth century unanimously attributed to St. Augustine and quoted as such (P.L., XL, 1122). To-day it is universally regarded as apocryphal, though it would be difficult to determine its author. After saying that “he who wishes to confess his sins should seek a priest who can bind and loose”, he adds these words often repeated as an axiom: “So great is the power of confession that if a priest be wanting, one may confess to his neighbour” (tanta vis est confessionis ut, si deest sacerdos, confiteatur proximo). He goes on to explain clearly the value of this confession made to a layman in case of necessity: “Although the confession be made to one who has no power to loose, nevertheless he who confesses his crime to his companion becomes worthy of pardon through his desire for a priest.” Briefly, to obtain pardon, the sinner performs his duty to the best of his ability, i.e. he is contrite and confesses with the desire of addressing himself to a priest; he hopes that the mercy of God will supply what in this point is lacking. The confession is not sacramental, if we may so speak, except on the part of the penitent; a layman cannot be the minister of absolution and he is not regarded as such. Thus understood confession to laymen is imposed as obligatory later only counselled or simply permitted, by the greater number of theologians from Gratian and Peter Lombard to the sixteenth century and the Reformation. Though Gratian is not so explicit (can. 78, Dist. I, De Poenit.; can. 36, Dist. IV, De Cons.), the Master of the Sentences (IV, dist. xvii) makes a real obligation of confession to a layman in case of necessity. After having demonstrated that the avowal of sins (confessio oris) is necessary in order to obtain pardon, he declares that this avowal should be made first to God, then to a priest, and in the absence of a priest, to one’s neighbour (socio). This doctrine of Peter Lombard is found, with some differences, in many of his commentators, among them, Raymond of Penafort, who authorizes this confession without making it an obligation (Summa, III, xxxiv, 84); Albertus Magnus (in Iv, dist. xvii, aa. 58, 59), who, arguing from baptism conferred by a layman in case of necessity, ascribes a certain sacramental value to absolution by a layman. St. Thomas (in IV, dist. xvii, q. 3, art. 3, sol. 2) obliges the penitent to do what he can, and sees something sacramental (quodammodo sacrametalis) in his confession; he adds, and in this many followed him, that if the penitent survives he should seek real absolution for a priest (cf. Bonav. In IV, sent., d. 17, p. 3, a. 1, q. 1, and Alex. of Hales, in IV, q. 19 m. 1, a. 1). Scotus, on the other hand (in dist. xiv, q. 4; dist. xvii, q. 1), not only does not make this confession obligatory, but discovers therein certain dangers; after him John of Freiburg, Durandus of Saint-Pourcain, and Astesanus declare this practice merely licit. Besides the practical manuals for the use of the priests may be mentioned the “Manipulus curatorum” of Guy de Montrocher (1333), the synodal statutes of William, Bishop of Cahors, about 1325, which oblige sinners to confess to a layman in case of necessity; all, however, agree in saying that there is no real absolution and that recourse should be had to a priest if possible.
Practice corresponds to theory; in the medieval chansons de gestes and in annals and chronicles, examples of such confessions occur (see Laurain, “De l’intervetion des laiques, des diacres, et des abbesses dans l’administration de la Pénitence”, Paris, 1897). Thus, Joinville relates (Hist. De S. Louis, §70), that the army of the Christians having been put to flight by the Saracens, each one confessed to any priest he could find, and at need to his neighbour; he himself thus received the confession of Guy d’Ybelin, and gave him a kind of absolution saying: “Je vous asol de tel pooir que Diex m’a donnei” (I absolve you with such power as God may have given me). In 1524 Bayard, wounded to death, prayed before his cross-shaped sword-hilt and made his confession to his “maistre d’ostel” (Hist. De Bayard par le loyal serviteur, ch. lxiv-v). Neither theory nor practice, it will readily be seen, was erroneous from a theological pint of view. But when Luther (Prop. Damn., 13) attacked and denied the power of the priest to administer absolution, and maintained that laymen had a similar power, a reaction set in. The heresy of Luther was condemned by Leo X and the Council of Trent; this Council (sess. xiv, cap. 6, and can. 10), without directly occupying itself with confession to a layman in case of necessity, defined that only bishops and priests are the ministers of absolution. Sixteenth-century authors, while not condemning the practice, declared it dangerous, e.g. the celebrated Martin Aspilcueta (Navarrus) (Enchirid., xxi, n. 41), who with Dominicus Soto says that it had fallen into desuetude. Both theory and practice disappeared by degrees; at the end of the seventeenth century there remained scarcely a memory of them.
I would only add that what seemed like a done deal in 1910 is not necessarily a done deal today.
When the parish does the Parish Penance Service twice a year (Advent and Lent) the place is a mob scene - lines out the door with 10 or a dozen priests hearing confessions. We have about 1800 families registered in the parish.
**When the parish does the Parish Penance Service twice a year (Advent and Lent) the place is a mob scene - lines out the door with 10 or a dozen priests hearing confessions. We have about 1800 families registered in the parish.**
This is sounding good to me......actually great!
AT the Advent and Lent services we have five or six priests and people out the door. Can’t imagine what it would be like if we had the 1800 families, rather than our 1000. We used to be the smalles parish in the Salem-Keizer area, but I believe our little church is climbing up the ranks. We are currently putting in a sprinkling sytem and re-roofing the church.
Can’t do any major building because of the Portland Archdiocese still have funds tied up. (Even though we have the land!)
Do you have a source for that?
My mistake. I just saw “From the Catholic Encyclopedia”
Amazingly enough, I grew up right around the corner from our current parish - a block and a half away - even though I was an Episcopalian then. The parish loaned space to a startup ECUSA congregation at the time, and a friend's family were members there. I have seen the parish grow from its start in 1967, when they had this hysterically ugly little round white prefab building that was known locally as "The Great Pumpkin". It was so ugly, but I have looked in vain for a picture of it on the internet! The parish would build a building, then when they built the next one they would recycle the old one into something else. Now we have a beautiful traditional Romanesque-Revival (H.H. Richardson) -styled brick sanctuary (seats 850). The old sanctuary is now the parish hall, the old rectory is the parish offices, the church bought two adjoining suburban houses and converted them to a rectory and housing for the sisters. The Great Pumpkin was wrecked out and the parochial school now stands on the site.
Our congregation is actually starting to sing along with Albert's Mass . . . . they're still a little spooked by the Latin Mass, but they're beginning to sing that too.
Our assistant pastor has our tiny 7 a.m. daily Mass group of 10-14 singing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. With no preparation whatsoever, but that's OK, it's so simple! I'm going to meet with him to see if we can gradually expand on that. Laus tibi, Domine!
Thank God that Protestants are getting back into what God intended. The Holy Catholic Church.
A year ago we had a mission with a presenter from the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament during Lent. By the second week of May, we had an Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel up and going. Good things have followed.
I think we are at the beginning of those baby steps. Before restrictions, seven classrooms and a nursery were added. The youth room now takes up two of those rooms and we have a florishing parish library in another, leaving us with only four classrooms. There is talk about adding a second story to the wing of four classrooms, but it is only talk right now.
Between the church and the hall we had a breezeway and grassy area that was mostly weeds. It is now a beautiful garden with a gazebo and benches and tables for meditations. The youth sometimes meet out there in the summer. Our church (currently be re-roofed) was originally planned to convert to a gymnasium.
We have improved an area, thanks to the Knights of Columbus with water, tables, trees, volley ball sand court to a park in honor of a pastor who was with us for a year and then died.
So, you can see that with the landscaping and sprinkler system that is being installed we are ready for the next step. I think it will be plans for a new church, possible enlargement of our parish hall and the offices.
Do keep us updated on your progress with the music. I can only pray right now.
That should have been “Pray for an improvement in our music program right now.” LOL!
I love to see a parish growing! And baby steps are really the way to go, because the whole parish gets involved and helps any way they can. It makes it seem more like everybody's church, instead of having a few big donors drop a ton of bucks on the parish (although we wouldn't turn it down, ahem!)
While I'm thinking about it, would you please pray for our Permanent Deacon and his wife? His wife is finally losing a long, long struggle with cancer, she is in hospice and the end is very near. She has left instructions for her Funeral Mass and the whole music department is planning the very best we can do for her, which is all we can do other than pray with all our hearts . . . she was a member of our handbell choir and just a wonderful, sweet lady who has faced her illness with incredible courage and cheerfulness. She will be sorely missed, not least by her husband. I can't imagine what he will do without her, he will have to lean heavily on the Lord for a long, long time.
My family has about 100 years of Catholic School attendance as well. You could be right about the religion lacking, but the education overall is very good. However, we did not hear anything about Homosexuality being a sin, but then again we did not hear anything about sex either. To be honest with you hearing about sex from Dad was much better than some old teacher. In 1987 when I graduated from high school, homosexuality was not the “in thing” to talk about so I would imagine there would’nt be any reason to discuss it. I would imagine it was the same with the Polosi family. However, maybe her grandkids will get the homosexuality is a sin speech since homosexuality is more known to the population now. In 1987 nobody even knew a homosexual. Today, I would imagine that most people know a homosexual or has a family member who is one. What America has done in 20 years. lol.
You're right, the Latin Mass is simple. Just sing it like you speak it!