December 3, 2009

From My Confessor

The friar to whom I have been going for confession lately has a couple of practices that I have come to appreciate. First, he begins his own counsel in this way:

"Let us pray together for God's forgiveness of all of our sins."

With this, the encounter becomes not only priest and penitent, but also two brother sinners praying together for forgiveness. Then, at the end he always adds, "Please don't hesitate to ask for confession. We need to support each other." The ministry of the sacrament is a means of fraternal support. It recalls to me the procedure for confession from the Earlier Rule:

Et fratres mei benedicti tam clerici quam laici confiteantur peccata sua sacerdotibus nostrae religionis.Et si non potuerint, confiteantur aliis discretis et catholicis sacerdotibus scientes firmiter et attendentes, quia a quibuscumque sacerdotibus catholicis acceperint poenitentiam et absolutionem, absoluti erunt procul dubio ab illis peccatis, si poenitentiam sibi iniunctam procuraverint humiliter et fideliter observare. 3Si vero tunc non potuerint habere sacerdotem, confiteantur fratri suo, sicut dicit apostolus Jacobus: «Confitemini alterutrum peccata vestra» (Jac 5,16). 4Non tamen propter hoc dimittant recurrere ad sacerdotem, quia potestas ligandi et solvendi solis sacerdotibus est concessa. (XX: 1-4)

"Let my blessed brothers, cleric and lay, confess their sins to priests of our religion. And if they cannot, let them confess to other discreet and catholic priests, knowing and holding that the one who has received penance and absolution from any catholic priest is absolved beyond doubt, if he observes humbly and faithfully the penance enjoined on him. If they cannot even have a priest, let them confess to their brother, as the apostle James says: Confess your sins to one another. (James 5:16). Nevertheless, on account of this, let them not abandon recourse to a priest, who alone has been given the power to bind and loose."

Penance: a little unusual in configuration, "2 and 10."

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

What a beautiful post and what a great manner of confession! I recall about two years ago when I went to confession at a religious education conference in a big city, I stood in a (long) line with someone from Canada. We both were a bit nervous about whom we would find as a confessor, and so I suggested that we pray together and ask God to give us an appropriate priest. I did not see her afterward, so I do not know how she fared, but I had to smile at how my prayer was answered. I, who spend my life traveling the world for work, ended up with a Nigerian. Appropriate, indeed! He was just like the friar you describe. He started with a very similar prayer which put me immediately at ease with him. (That, and the fact that he was from Nigeria.)