Friday, 11 November 2016

The Confessional. Part 19.

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

If the words absolvo a peccatis tuis were used, omitting the word te, the form would still be probably valid, since te is sufficiently implied in the word tuis; in practice, however, this view ought not to be taken, but the safer opinion followed.  The absolution would certainly be invalid if the priest said only absolvo, because the object of the absolution is not indicated and the sense is indefinite.

The words In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen, are certainly not of the essence of the form, since Christ in instituting the Sacrament made no reference to the Blessed Trinity; they are, however, most appropriately added to express that the priest absolves from sin by the authority and power of God.

In cases of necessity absolution may be given by the same priest to many persons at the same time, while he says, Ego vos absolvo a peccatis vestris; thus, for instance, soldiers may be absolved at the beginning of a battle. As many Sacraments are conferred as there are persons absolved, if they give any token of sorrow and in some way confess their sinfulness.

The Rituale Romanum prescribes how a priest should give absolution, and, as it is the official book of the Church, he is bound to follow its directions. Any unauthorized change would be a sin because it is a breach of the commands of the Church; indeed the confessor would sin grievously if he wished to introduce any change into the form of absolution.

"When the priest is about to give absolution," is the direction of the Ritual, "after imposing a penance on the penitent and the latter having accepted it, let him say: Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus et dimissis peccatis tuis perducat te ad vitæ ætemam. Amen. Then he raises his right hand over the penitent and says: Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem peccatorum tuorum tribuat tibi omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.

"Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat, et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (suspensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris  et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

"If the penitent is not a cleric, the word suspensionis is omitted." Then follows the prayer: "Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, merita beatæ Mariæ Virginis et omnium Sanctorum, quidquid boni feceris et mali sustinueris, sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, augmentum gratiæ et præmium vitæ æternæ. Amen."

If there are many penitents to be heard and in urgent confessions, the Misereatur and Indulgentiam may be omitted and simply the Dominus noster, etc., said. The prayer Passio Domini, etc., may also be left out. 80 It is recommended, however, not to omit this last prayer, because by virtue of it (so teaches St. Thomas) the good works of the penitent acquire the character of sacramental satisfaction, and a share in the merits of Christ as well as those of our blessed Lady and of the saints.

"In cases of pressing necessity, in danger of death, the priest may simply say: Ego te absolvo ab omnibus censuris et peccatis in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen"

Such is the form of absolution according to the prescription of the Roman Ritual. The confessor is at liberty to make use of the above abbreviations under the circumstances mentioned. It would be very wrong to attempt to put in all the prayers, if there were danger of a man dying without receiving absolution; in this case the priest must use the shorter form given by the Ritual.