12 March 2006

Libellus III

Continuing the series of posts from Frequent Confession by H.C. Chery, O.P., the little book next examines why one should confess to a priest. This could be useful if you're like me, and have friends or relatives who just don't understand why confession is important.

"This is the place to mention why I sould confess my sins to a priest instead of merely acknowledging them directly to God in the inmost recesses of my heart. It is because I am a member of the Church.
My sin has offended God and has injured me: it is a violation of the love that I owe to my Creator, of the proper love that I owe to my Creator and of the proper love that I should bear towards myself as a child of God. But it has also aimed a blow at the Church, the mystical Body. 'Every soul which raises itself, raises the world.' Every Christian who falls impedes the perfection of the Christian community. The most hidden of sins causes an injury to the tree of which I am a branch. When I cut myself off from the tree completely by mortal sin or merely separate myself from it a little, the whole tree suffers. My spiritual vitality is entirely dependent on the Church for God, for my benefit, has entrusted his graces to the Church, the Body of Christ. I must therefore also depend on her to be delivered from my sin. In the first centuries this responsibility towards the Church appeared more clearly when confession was public and made before the assembled congregation. Nowadays this discipline has been mitigated, but I must still accuse myself before the Church in the person of the priest who hears me and it is from the Church that I receive reconciliation by the ministry of the priest who absolves me."

I will skip the next section, "Confess to the same confessor as far as possible," because I think the reasons for this are easily and commonly understood, as well as the section on how to choose a confessor. Next time, I will begin posting the section on "What sins to confess."

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there, since many people take advantage of Lent to go to confession, or to resume a practice of regular confession which has fallen by the wayside, or just to meditate on what we are doing when we confess.

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