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 Confession - The Forgotten Sacrament
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35 Posts

Posted - Dec 01 2008 :  07:47:51 AM  Show Profile Send Doc a Private Message
I remember reading several years ago an article about Confirmation becoming the 'forgotten Sacrament.' There was (and still is) great concern that many view Confirmation as a rite of passage more than a Sacrament. It is the birth of young adulthood although usually administered around 13 years of age. It parallels the Jewish Bar Mitzva when the young boy is becoming a man. The same for the females.

It is interesting to note for me at least that many people view the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as more along the lines of the party that generally follows the ceremony. I recall in my 25 years of ministry helping people prepare for these Sacraments more concern exhibited over the date and time, location and all the rest for the party afterwards. The big debate usually surrounded who the God Parents would be and often I was asked if there could be several so as not to offend relatives on both sides of the family. Amazing.

Before Sacraments are administered, there needs to be a catechesis on them so that the people understand clearly not only how important the Sacraments are but their true meaning and effect on the recipient. It is here that greater emphasis is needed. People generally do not understand, at least not fully, the effects of Sacraments on the soul. Likewise, they most often fail to realize what not getting a Sacrament administered does to the soul. Out of sight, out of mind. We are human and as such, use our senses to garner what is happening. We cannot see grace; we cannot see Original Sin. The actions of the Priest using the prescribed Ritual approved by Holy Mother the Church are designed to make as visibly possible what is taking place spiritually.

Over the years, centuries actually, since Vatican II, we have seen a decline in people going to Confession. I recall in my younger years, going to Confession where three or four Priests were hearing, and long lines outside the Confessional - sometimes extending down the aisles of the Church. Confessions were heard for an hour or more. In my childhood parish, confessions were heard on Saturday from 4 until 6 PM and 7 until 9 PM. The Priests got a break for dinner between. Today, there is no wait. One can walk in for Confession during the prescribed times and normally enter the Confessional immediately.

Fr. Corapi and other great teachers have mentioned their concern that while the Confession lines have dwindled, almost everyone at Mass receives the Most Blessed Sacrament. Two conclusions may be drawn from this: 1) everyone in line for Communion is in the State of Grace or 2) sin has lost its meaning and people are possibly receiving Our Lord in a state of sin. Here lies the problem - sin or the sense of sin which has been lost. Far too many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence and view Communion as sharing in a meal only. The sacrifical character of the Mass and Holy Communion is not recognized. Sadly there are Priests who fall into this same arena.

If we believe that this or that is not a sin but the Church teaches that it is, we are saying that we know better. I have heard people say such things as 'everyone does that...get with the times' or 'I didn't murder anyone; I'm okay.' Rationalizing our faults and pointing to the cultural definition of what is right or wrong is more than dangerous - it can be spiritually lethal. The world, largely through the media, has desensitized many regarding what is acceptable (which is almost anything today). Topics presented in the form of music videos, television programs, and other venues - topics which were clearly wrong and never discussed let alone expressed openly, are now a matter of common acceptance.

Sin is sin and if it is serious (mortal) sin, it cuts us off from Divine grace and places our soul on a path to Hell. Many people believe Hell does not exist despite the Scriptural references from Jesus Himself as to its existence. There have been Marian warnings concerning Hell and the Fatima visionaries were shown Hell by Our Lady. Because we don't think something exists doesn't make it go away. I would certainly not want to find out the Hell exists by ending up there. God forbid.

How many souls arrive in Hell only to be surprised that it is very real and there is no exit. Read some of the near-death accounts of people who have been there and come back. Read Michael Brown's latest book THE OTHER SIDE which is the best book I have ever read on the afterlife. Read all his books while you're at it for they are clear, complete and concise. If he ever offers a retreat in your area, go and take family and friends with you. They are excellent and most certainly for our times.

As a Christian Psychologist, I have dealt with many people (mostly college students) who are carrying laundry loads of problems and issues. Amazingly they will pour their hearts out to me. Usually, I am able to help. I most often recommend Confession as invaluable to their recovery if they are Catholic especially. When psychology became a pop item around the sixties, Confession lines began to shrink. Secular Psychologists were emphasizing self-esteem and excusal therapies whereby everything was okay "You're a product of your nurturing environment blah, blah, blah. Guilt was the target and it was removed by a variety of techniques. People began to excuse their abnormal and sometimes even antisocial behaviors indiscriminantly. Psychology became the new 'confession.'

Psychology is a science, not a perfect one, but a science nevertheless. However, psychology cannot remove sin which generally lies at the core of the human condition. Why someone would pay a psycholgist for one hour so that they can dump all their garbage and then leave 'feeling better' is amazing. The 'garbage' is still there and shortly after their therapeutic session, it returns and rears its ugly head. The solution? More sessions.

Catholics are so blessed to have Spiritual Psychologists in the form of Priests who are empowered by Almighty God Himself to take away the sins of the repentant sinner. Here lies the real therapy - Divine Mercy. When you and I leave the Confessional or Reconciliation Room, we are forgiven - we have a clean slate and all is well with us and the Lord. Wow. What a very special God we have; what a merciful Lord is ours.

Secular psychology has its place. It has helped me in the past which is largely why I took up the field. But nothing, absolutely nothing helps my mental, physical and above all spiritual sicknesses like Confession. I say mental, physical and spiritual because all three components are the human condition. We cannot separate them - God does at the end when He separates our soul from our body but until then, we are triune in nature like the God Who created us.


Jesus, I Trust in You.

Edited by - Doc on Dec 01 2008 08:14:41 AM

Mary's Servant

233 Posts

Posted - Dec 02 2008 :  9:17:30 PM  Show Profile Send RayL a Private Message
I never got the memo to stop going to confession. I've been a thousand times in my life. I do think that parishes who only have confession for an inconvenient hour on Saturday afternoons are failing to emphasize the Sacrament. It's almost non-existent during the week at most parishes. Those parishes that do have daily confessions always seem to have a line when I go. Maybe because they're the only ones in town during the week.

IMHO, priests need to hear confessions more frequently, and stop having so many meetings with parish organizations, building committees, and altar societies. Those things are fine, but the Sacraments should come first. We have Communion and Mass every day, why not confession?

No Mary, no Jesus. Know Mary, know Jesus.
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810 Posts

Posted - Dec 03 2008 :  01:53:42 AM  Show Profile Send DeniseLawson a Private Message
Before Sacraments are administered, there needs to be a catechesis on them so that the people understand clearly not only how important the Sacraments are but their true meaning and effect on the recipient.

Agreed. I will add, however, that a lot of times the kids can be taught correctly, but if the parents hold different views, the parents' views often win out, especially if those views mean they don't have to do something they are not comfortable doing - like confessing one's sins. I think, from a catechists' standpoint, all we can really do is make sure we do our part to teach them right, encourage the parents to do the same and hope that what should be happening takes root. For some, it certainly will. For many, however, I suspect it will not. The average person just is not that devout, and the Church does not emphasize the sacraments as it should, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.
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