Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Confessional. Part 111.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

V. The following directions are given by approved moralists to determine whether any carelessness in the examination of conscience is a mortal or venial sin and whether in consequence the confession has been valid or not.

1. Those may rest in perfect security who, being neither too strict nor too lax, experience no misgiving or anxiety on the care which they have devoted to the examination of their conscience.

2. If a man doubts whether he has been guilty of more or less carelessness and discovers after confession that he has omitted more sins than he has confessed, he must acknowledge himself guilty of gravely sinful neglect; if, however, he has confessed more sins than he has omitted, it may be assumed that he has not been guilty of great carelessness.

3. If a penitent's last confession was made one or two weeks before and he accuses himself of mortal sins, giving the number of times in quite a vague and doubtful fashion, e.g., I have committed sins against holy purity three or four times, there is a strong suspicion that he has been gravely careless in the examination of his conscience.

It should be noticed that if a penitent, from experience of his own weakness, is afraid that by a prolonged examination of his sins he will again consent to them, he may confine himself to a rapid glance at. them, though he knows that for want of further examination many will be omitted, since in any case the risk of committing sin must be avoided. A confessor must observe the same guardedness in putting questions on sins against the angelic we shall see later.

If the penitent is troubled with scruples, it is better for him not to go so thoroughly into his examination of conscience, otherwise confession would become too burdensome, and experience shows that such penitents become only more confused, the more they examine themselves; indeed they should be forbidden any long and anxious attention to themselves.

Let the confessor impress upon worrying souls that the great thing for them is to have the wish to confess all, that God recognizes the good will, and that this is shown by praying for grace to make a good examination of conscience, and that even if a sin be forgotten without any fault it is remitted, and that the time between confession and communion should not be occupied with the recalling of one's past sins, but that the mind should be fixed on the future

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Confessional. Part 110.

Theory and practice of the confessional by Caspar Erich Schieler, Richard Frederick Clarke

III. A penitent who is guilty of gross neglect in the examination of conscience makes per se an invalid and sacrilegious confession; he must, of course, be sufficiently conscious of such neglect in order to incur this sin. The malice of the offence consists in the risk of omitting some mortal sin, and so, though none may have been actually left out, the penitent has sinned gravely by consciously exposing himself to the danger.

IV. In order to make a good examination of conscience the penitent should adopt some system; the simplest and easiest method is to go through the commandments of God and of the Church, the various kinds of sins (especially the Seven Capital Sins), and the nine ways of participating in sin; it is also recommended to call to mind particular hours and days. Theologians give many other methods besides for this examination. Reuter recommends the penitent to recall where he was each day, what was done, and what sins were committed by thoughts, wishes, and desires, words, and works; how he has conducted himself at home, in church, with his neighbours; the author considers that by this means repetition will be avoided. To examine the conscience according to this method would be to exercise not only diligentia sufficiens but magna omnino diligentia. Sporer, approving the method recommended by Gobat, offers a compendious system for penitents who lead a fairly uniform existence and for whom the examination of conscience extends over a longer time, some months or half a year. The penitent should consider three periods: (1) an ordinary working-day; (2) a Sunday; (3) an exceptional day in which he has travelled, done some particular business, been present at a wedding or a dinner, etc. One who has only to examine a short interval may call to mind how he has sinned against God, his neighbour, and himself, by thoughts, words, and deeds.