Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Confessional. Part 78.

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

Hence a prostitute makes a sufficient statement in confessing how often she has been accustomed to sin each day or week, at the same time telling the species, or at least the more general species, of the sins so far as possible; she would make a perfect confession by an accusation such as follows: " I have spent so many years in this state of sin, and as occasion offered I sinned with all who came, married and unmarried, and also with those who were bound by vow." Penitents must always give at least the more general specific characters of their sins, and the number of times per day or week they have sinned.

A similar difficulty is presented in the case of those who have a deeply rooted habit of sin — those, for example, who constantly entertain impure desires with regard to women whom they chance to meet; it is very difficult in such a case to give any number. Such people make a perfect confession by stating that they are given to this habit, adding whether they indulge frequently in the day or week; besides this they should mention at least the more general specific characters, whether they indulge these desires with regard to married people or relations or persons consecrated to God.

The same difficulty arises with regard to uneducated and ignorant people who have to accuse themselves of impure conversations carried on at their work during the whole day, on all sorts of subjects and before all kinds of companions. They, too, may confess the number and species of their sins as we have indicated above.

Lugo and Sporer would also admit the confession as valid and give absolution to a thief who accuses himself as follows: "Since I was ten years old I have been so addicted to stealing that whenever a chance was offered — and that happened very frequently — I stole what I could; besides I have stolen sacred objects of considerable value on five occasions or, if I mistake not, six."

Though the accusation of the species in confession usually offers more difficulty than that of the number, yet Lugo advises the more learned confessors in particular to refrain from being too exacting in demanding the classification from their penitents. As the less-trained confessor may fail in this respect by defect, the more learned confessor is exposed to the danger of excess. The penitent must give the species of the sin, and the confessor is bound to inquire with due regard to the penitent's ability and the knowledge which he had at the time of sinning; for a man cannot do evil of which he is ignorant; moreover, it is sufficient to have a general consciousness of grave malice.