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What do you think about the sacraments?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Not David, Apr 9, 2021.

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  1. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 Pax et bonum! CF Ambassadors Supporter

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    Within Anglicanism, corporate confession has always been a mandatory part of the Eucharist and other services.
    Auricular confession is underused in the Anglican Church, but it has always officially been made available and there are orders of service for it in both the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship. It is not compulsory for Anglicans to take part in private confession, but it has always been encouraged: "all may, some should, none must".
    During sacramental confession, the priest and the penitent greet one another, share a passage of scripture from the Liturgy of the Word, and then pray together for God's forgiveness.
    Then follows the confession from the penitent and the priest gives help, counsel and guidance.
    The penitent prays a prayer and makes an act of contrition.
    The priest either lays on or extends hands over the penitent , making the sign of the cross, and pronouncing an authorised absolution.
    It concludes by the priest and penitent reading a prayer of thanksgiving followed by the Lord's prayer.
    The priest then tells the penitent to go in peace and invites them to pray for them, a sinner.
     
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  2. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    All Lutheran bodies have Confession and Absolution. It is specifically mentioned in our Confessions. We do this because Christ Himself gave the Keys to the Church, and specifically conferred to His Apostles that whoever's sins they forgive are forgiven. The exercise of that is retained in the minister who has been called and ordained to exercise the Office of the Keys for the good of the whole Church. Thus the pastor, called and ordained by the Church to be the minister of God's Word and Sacraments, therefore speaks the word, "Your sins are forgiven" and it is most certainly true. Not because the pastor is special, not because of any special sacerdotal grace possessed by the pastor--but because the pastor is faithfully executing the Office of the Keys as Christ gave and intended for His Church; and therefore it is not the pastor who forgives, but God who forgives. The pastor here speaks in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, as Christ's representative. These are Christ's words, Christ's actions, it is our Lord's work being done.

    Private Confession is not necessary in Lutheranism, but it is available. Corporate Confession, as in the Penitential Rite of the Liturgy, is itself totally sufficient. As in Lutheranism we reject that it is required for a full recollection of sins to be confessed--but that only a general confession of sins be confessed. Because God isn't a bully who pushes us around, but a loving, merciful, forgiving God. That we come to Him contrite, confessing that we are sinners, aware of our shortcomings, whether we know all that we did or didn't do--God is kind and merciful. And the Word of Absolution that God provides for us, to comfort and soothe us weary sinners, is pure Gospel.

    "Your are forgiven" is Good news. It is Gospel, and it is Gospel that God wants us to hear. And it is there, fully abundant, in the regular activity of Christ's Church being Christ's Church. We are forgiven, God forgives us, we belong to Jesus. We are sinners held in the bosom of God's love in Jesus Christ. Glory be to God.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
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  3. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I would add to all of the above, that there is a deep pastoral need met by individual confession. For many people - rightly or wrongly - corporate confession during the Eucharist can feel as if it doesn't get to the heart of the matter, for them. Especially if they are carrying a burden of guilt for something they see as a "big" sin, which is unknown to others. Being able to come in absolute confidence, articulate that guilt, and - knowing that the priest knows what they've done - still hear "You are forgiven," brings a deeper assurance and helps them really take confidence in that forgiveness. If that makes sense?

    As someone above said, in Anglicanism it is not a common thing. In nearly seven years as a priest, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of private confessions I've heard. But for each of those occasions, it was incredibly important and meaningful to the penitent that I could hear their sin - know what it was that plagued their conscience - and still look them in the eye and tell them that God forgives them.
     
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  4. CleanSoul

    CleanSoul Member

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    Is there a seal of confession in Anglicanism? Is it inviolable, or must you submit to authorities if pressed?
     
  5. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    There is a church I go to which you might say is an “ally” of my own. The rector of that church is a good confessor. The experience of Anglican or Lutheran or Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox confession is quite different from Roman Catholic confession. Penances are not automatic; in fact I have never received one. A good confessor can heal deep spiritual wounds. For example, despite my very strong opposition to cremation, I always used to have a morbid fear of hearses, as silly as that may sound, and my confessor delivered me from that fear in the course of just one session, by simply talking me through the doctrine of general resurrection, which I was familiar with and is something I greatly love about the Christian faith, and then explaining to me that hearses are simply the beautiful vehicles we use to transport our loved ones to the cemetery for burial.

    On many other occasions I have greatly benefitted from the Sacrament of Reconciliation when struggling with bereavement, feelings of guilt or failure, despair (which is itself a sin), isolation, frustration and other unpleasant emotions.

    I think auricular confession should be a speciality or something requiring advanced training. In my case I received this from a conservative Anglican friend, as the UCC seminary curriculum in the early 90s left much to be desired in terms of pastoral counseling, with a left wing preponderance of situational ethics. The idea that only a more experienced subset of the clergy should have faculties to hear confessions is the model of the Greek Orthodox churches, where only a subset of priests, those who have been awarded the epigonation, a diamond-shaped shield that attaches to the vestments of a priest or bishop, can hear confessions:

    [​IMG]
    Above: Epigonation, the shield of an Eastern Orthodox Confessor.
     
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  6. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    There is an exception made to inviolability in some dioceses, in cases of child abuse, in light of historic problems with child sexual abuse being disclosed in confession but not reported (allowing the abuser to continuously offend), and secular law requiring reporting in such cases.

    Historically, when treason attracted the death penalty in England, there was also an exception in cases where the clergy person would have been subject to the death penalty for not disclosing treasonous knowledge acquired in confession.

    That said, despite these two exceptions (one current in some places, the other historic), it would be exceptionally rare, if not unknown, for either exception to be required. Anecdotally even the most experienced confessors in my acquaintance tell me that such a situation has never arisen in their experience.

    @The Liturgist, to your point above about penances not being automatic, that may be true; but certainly in my training I was taught to always, without exception, give some form of penance.
     
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  7. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Indeed; while the confiteor in the Anglican Divine Office and Holy Communion, and equivalent confiteors in the Congregational liturgy (in Rev. John Hunter’s Devotional Services, and in a watered down form in the UCC Book of Worship) do provide reassurance for most that sins are forgiven, they would not, for example, be able to cure me of my lifelong fear of hearses. It takes one on one auricular confession with a good confessor to do that.
     
  8. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    Regarding confession and absolution, I think this sermon should address your concerns. This was written by my Pastor, and since he was on vacation last week, I had the good fortune of delivering it to our congregation. It relates directly to the appointed readings for the Second Sunday of Easter (First Sunday after Easter) The sermon begins at about 31:24, since this is Matins, it is preceeded by the Appointed Psalms and readings. If you would rather have the text, send me a PM and I can forward it to you.
     
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  9. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    There certainly is in our Lutheran Synod; not exceptions.
     
  10. tampasteve

    tampasteve ✞ Away until May 16th ✞ Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    This is a really important statement, thank you.

    From my time in the RCC, I can say that a private confession - while difficult to do - is hands down a better experience for conversion of the heart and mind. It is hard to walk into that confessional/office and bear your sins to another person. But at the same time, the counsel and feeling of loosing a weight is undeniable.

    I understand and believe that the corporate confession is enough, but there is just something to having someone proclaim it over you individually after you have laid your soul out that is healing.

    I am not sure what "penance" other priests offered, but the few I had gone to always prescribed acts of service or kindness as opposed to saying some number of prayers or what have you, which is the stereotypically thought of penance.
     
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  11. Andrewn

    Andrewn Well-Known Member CF Ambassadors Supporter

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    Thanks to @HTacianas , @tampasteve , @Anthony2019 , @ViaCrucis , @Paidiske , @The Liturgist , and @MarkRohfrietsch for explaining the purpose of individual confession to a pastor.

    All, more or less, agree with the statement "all may, some should, none must".

    This is with the exception of @HTacianas who wrote, "it is a pre-requisite to the Eucharist." This may theoretically, and historically, be the case in EO, OO & RC churches. But is it really a common practice to deny communion to people who had not confessed to the pastor?
     
  12. tampasteve

    tampasteve ✞ Away until May 16th ✞ Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    I am sure it happens, but I have never seen it personally. I would have to say it is denied very infrequently. In my RCC parish confessions were open a few hours every weekend, maybe 1-3% of the Mass attendees went ahead of time regularly (probably some made appointments too, but the numbers would be negligible). The RCC in my area only "required" it annually, but it is not like anyone was keeping record.
     
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  13. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Penances are given every time in the Roman Rite and I suppose your seminary was influenced by the Roman praxis. Which surprises me because usually more recent Anglican practices tend to incline towards EO usages in the US.

    The spiritual practice of the Russian Orthodox Church is to use the sacrament of reconciliation frequently; the rule at most in the Western US seems to be to reconcile at a minimum within four weeks of each partaking of the Eucharist. The Russians are one of those Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches that very seldom impose penances, particularly on conwertsy. The main thing people get penanced for in the Russian Orthodox Church from what I have read is adultery.

    In general I regard as extremely healthy the Eastern Orthodox system of tightly coupled sacraments , where Baptism, Chrismation and Communion ideally follow each other directly, and where for those above an age of comprehension, reconciliation is followed by the Eucharist, at a high frequency, ideally once a week most of the year and twice a week in Lent. Russian priests also tend to be extremely gentle. However, some convert priests, emphasis on the keyword “some” I have found lack the calm, loving nature one associates with most Orthodox priests, whether they are converts or “cradle Orthodox.” But it always amazes me how “chill” so many Russian clergy are, especially Russian hieromonks and archimandrites; in contrast, Romanian hieromonks and archimandrites burst with joyous emotions and energy. I like both groups. It is also interesting to note the Romanian Orthodox Church is the second largest after Russia (30 million Romanian Orthodox vs. over 200 million Russian Orthodox).

    So basically, if you have the opportunity to partake of the Eucharist several times a week and do auricular confession/reconciliation weekly, it can be a great blessing.

    There is one other reason why frequent reconciliation is the norm in Russian parishes, and it has to do with the Jesus Prayer and Hesychasm and personal prayer rules. Not everyone is pursuing hesychasm of course, but for those who are, frequent confession is a must, because there are numerous traps including tje very dangerous trap of pride, that one can fall into. And also, many people struggle to get a prayer rule in place which they can keep. Some also have health problems which require some derogation from Orthodox fasting practices. For these reasons, one will see some monks in pursuit of hesychasm spend a substantial amount of time each day talking to their starets or gerons or geronda, an elder or elderess, who Russian Orthodox will typically seek out, but for the laity, the need to see their starets is greatly reduced. A famous starets is St. Seraphim of Sarov, who also developed a new prayer rule involving 200 instances of the Orthodox version of the Ave Maria prayer, but without any of the visual imagination that accompanies the decades of the Rosary in Roman Rite practice, as Orthodox Christians believe the use of the visual imagination in prayer can put one at risk for what the Russians call “prelest” which loosely translated means spiritual or religious delusion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
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  14. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    Indeed, this is the norm in the RCC and most Orthodox churches, including all the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Antiochian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox (Church of Greece, Patriarch of Jerusalem and Patriarch of Alexandria, and I expect, the Church of Sinai), Cypriot Orthodox, and much of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, except for its Slavonic components. High frequency confession, such as monthly, or before the Eucharist, is largely a Slavonic and Romanian ideal (and I suspect, also, a Georgian practice, since the Church of Georgia was an unwilling part of the Russian Orthodox Church for nearly 150 years).
     
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  15. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    As far as I am aware, the Anglican churches in some Australian provinces are the only churches in the world where the Seal of Confession is not ostensibly inviolable.

    In those cases where the seal of confession was ostensibly intact but in practice disregarded by the authorities, things got rather darker: In the Soviet Union, the NKVD and later the KGB would acquide comprimat on clergy and use this to again access, to put bugs in the small area next to the iconostasis, and confessions were monitored, in addition to other, more severe, abuses; in Romania in the 1950s the Securitate arbitrarily seized hundreds of priests and confined them to a psychiatric hospital where sadistic “treatments” were used to try to “cure” them of Christianity. And in Albania all religions were prohibited and Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Sunni Muslim and Bektasi Muslim clergy were slaughtered en masse. Only a few were lucky enough to escape and preserve the faith in the diaspora, like Albanian Orthodox Archbishop Fan Noli, and the Roman Catholic nun Mother Theresa.

    So the Australian Anglican case is alright insofar it is the willing decision of the church. That said, I would argue it does defeat the purpose of the sacrament of reconciliation, and it has generally been acceptable for a confessor to demand a penitent turn themselves into the police before receiving absolution. But it is a complex area and Australia is reeling from high profile sex abuse scandals, so I am not well equipped to comment on it other than to say their current policy is probably in their best interest for the time being.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
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  16. Taodeching

    Taodeching Well-Known Member

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    Every time I went to confession I always received one or two. I remember talking to my Priest/Mentor/Spiritual Advisor at the time before I had my first confession and he told me 99 percent of the time that I would always get penances. Most of the time it was a few our Fathers and Hail Mary's, which I never felt were enough :)
     
  17. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Well, the "penances" are meant as gestures, symbols of the person's contrition. There isn't any thought, on the part of the Church, of them actually 'paying for' the sins committed.
     
  18. tampasteve

    tampasteve ✞ Away until May 16th ✞ Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    True, but to expound upon that, the RCC teaches that certain actions and prayers can earn a Plenary Indulgence which is a "remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven." Ref
    So, while not directly related to "paying for" the sins, the penance may have action on the punishment.

    *Note, I don't want to delve into whether the practice of indulgences and penance is correct or not, I am simply adding to the conversation of a practice that the RCC teaches. Let's not get into the weeds on this one, please.
     
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  19. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    What you say is true, but it's unrelated to the prayers assigned after sacramental Confession/Reconciliation.
     
  20. tampasteve

    tampasteve ✞ Away until May 16th ✞ Staff Member Administrator CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team Supporter

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    My understanding is that the confession forgives the sin, but the penance and potential indulgence removes the temporal punishment part. Or perhaps I misunderstand, which is entirely possible.
     
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