Monday, 21 November 2016

The Confessional. Part 27.

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

This being the case, sorrow as understood in this connection is not to be confused with: —

(a) Merely speculative sorrow (dolor intellectivus), i.e., the mere knowledge of the hatefulness and horror of sin. Reason when not blinded can recognize and must recognize clearly the hatefulness and wickedness of sin; yet in spite of this knowledge the will may cling to it and love it; indeed such cases are of frequent occurrence.

(b) Or the feeling of guilt or the remorse of conscience (terrores conscientiæ) which Luther taught to be of the essence of true sorrow. The feeling of guilt may be present without the help of our will, and even against our will. Remorse of conscience may be roused in us without our wishing it, and it may happen that we cannot allay it even when we wish to do so.

(c) Finally, the resolve to amend, the resipiscentia, and even the giving up of the sin is not of itself true sorrow; a man may forsake his sin merely because he has indulged in it to excess, because it has no longer any attraction for him, or because he has become tired of it.

True sorrow is not merely a pain and bitterness of heart; it is also a real hatred and horror of sin; but hatred and horror are acts of the will, for it is the will which hates and loves, shrinks from an object or embraces it. The will may shrink from sin at the same time that sensuality makes us crave for the sin; the will, however, must not give way to the craving.

Sorrow and detestation of sin are in themselves distinct, yet they are so bound up in man's nature, that, where there is detestation there is necessarily also sorrow, so that true and efficacious sorrow for sin, as sin, cannot exist without detestation of the same.

As to the question whether contrition lies more in sorrow for sin or in detestation of it — in other words, in dislike, hatred, and aversion — theologians answer that contrition is founded principally on detestation for sin, and with reason, for: —

(a) By this detestation the sinner retracts his evil will and turns towards God; this detestation is, moreover, the cause of sorrow. When, therefore, it is asserted that the sinner should above all have sorrow for his sins, and when by this is understood a sorrowful hatred of sin, this is correct, for in this case horror of sin is there with its complement. Moreover, we must not lose sight of St. Alphonsus dictum  that there is no reason to doubt that one sentiment includes the other; he who has a horror of his sins is sorry for them, and whoever is supernaturally sorry for them detests them.

Since contrition is the most important element in the disposition of the sinner, it is proper to give in detail the acts which belong to contrition, and to show how the sinner may attain to perfect contrition.