Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Confessional. Part 20.

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

The priest will be more eager to carry out the directions of the Church if he reflects on the meaning of the prayers which precede and follow the absolution; the former constitute an admirable preparation for that great act of mercy, the latter a most appropriate crowning of the same; all secure a special help for the penitent. Even the blessing which, according to some rituals, the priest is enjoined to give with the words: Dominus sit in corde tuo et in labiis tuis ut digne et competenter (or rite) confitearis peccata tua. In nomine Patris  et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen, is important. The accusation of so many sins is a heavy burden to the penitent; false shame and the devil will unite to deter him from a sincere accusation; and so the priest prays that the Lord with His grace may so act on the heart of the penitent that with sincerity and contrition he accuses himself of what burdens his conscience. In the Misereatur the priest prays that God may grant in His mercy remission of the sins which the penitent confesses, and give him eternal life (anticipando by sanctifying grace, and perfectly in the next world). The Indulgentiam contains the same petition for "grace, absolution, and remission," of sins confessed and of all others; it is not meant as a mere repetition, as a sort of compliance with Our Lord's counsel of insisting on the first petition; but in the repetition of the synonyms the priest is no doubt intended to plead for God's mercy and power that the penitent may have complete forgiveness of sin. This perfect forgiveness includes also the remission of the temporal penalties, since these, as the reliquiae peccatorum, are so intimately connected with the sin itself that in early Christian times they were briefly included under the category of peccata, and the Church, in the so-called general absolution given on the occasion of a plenary indulgence of temporal punishment, still uses the formula indulgentiam plenariam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concedo.