Friday, 20 January 2017

The Confessional. Part 63.

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

5. Frequens. Confession ought to be frequently made (see above, § 3). This includes also the repeated confession of sins already confessed and absolved (see above, § 6).

6. Nuda, The penitent ought not to hide his sins by ambiguous words or expressions which veil the hatefulness of the sin, in order to make them appear less in the eyes of the confessor. A penitent who thus veils his sins cannot have real contrition; there still remains in his heart that false shame which confuses the intellect, and his soul is not yet released from sin. Such conduct is in reality no less sinful than concealing the sin entirely, for what is the difference between total silence and answering so obscurely that the questioner is left in doubt? Just as a penitent makes a bad confession who conceals what he ought to tell, so does he who answers his confessor in such obscure terms that the latter does not understand or is led to take a view which the penitent knows to be wrong.

The conditional accusation is no better, as when, for example, a penitent says: "If I have given way to impure thoughts, I accuse myself of them," etc. Such a confession is not an accusation of sins, nor is it a sign of absolute aversion from them.

7. Discrete. The confession should be prudent, i.e. so worded that the reputations of others do not suffer; hence the sins of others ought not to be revealed except in so far as is necessary for the declaration of one's own sins. Not a few penitents prefer to tell the sins of others rather than their own: wives, for instance, tell the sins of their husbands, servants the sins of their masters. Such penitents must be seriously admonished by their confessor for the future not to reveal the sins of others lest they incur the guilt of detraction and God's anger in the very tribunal of His mercy. The question as to the partner in sin, whether and under what circumstances he is to be revealed in confession, is relegated to a later portion of the treatise.

The penitent's own good sense will tell him to be as discreet and decorous as possible in confessing his sins, especially those against purity, without detracting from the completeness of the confession, without being gross, and at the same time without failing in the reverence due to the Sacrament; hence he should tell only what is necessary for the integrity of the confession, and that as cautiously and becomingly as is possible, quite briefly, in clear and intelligible language; the confession must be perfect and at the same time chaste. The confessor also must exercise great discretion and prudence in this dangerous matter.