The Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, has seen hard times lately. It is rarely encouraged and priests hear fewer and fewer. Lent is a great time for the Sacrament of Confession, in fact Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent is a particular time for Confession. To ‘be shriven’ is to participate in Reconciliation. I heard no confessions on Shrove Tuesday.

Is the great Sacrament of Confession passé?

25 thoughts on “Confession?

  1. I don’t know if it’s passe, but it does seem foreign, especially if one was raised Baptist:-). However, I do wonder if Lauren Winner’s book Girl Meets God, with its description of her confession, has inspired a number of younger folk to give it a try. As part of our catechism classes, the Rite of Reconciliation was introduced as something we might want to consider participating in from time to time, but I would have never had to guts to do it for the first time if it wasn’t for Lauren Winner’s book. I think if confession is to come back into regular use, it needs to be demystified a bit. Naming one’s sins out loud is scary stuff. Ahhh, but the joy of absolution that follows….

  2. This is one of those times when I wish I lived near my parish—I really need to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I haven’t killed anyone, nor have I done anything Spongish (no fruit to him). But…my soul cries for it. Although the baser parts of me fear it…my soul ultimately screams for the Sacrament’s healing grace.

    Sundays are days of extreme business for our rector, as you know. Saturdays are impossible for me…especially now that I’m married. Not only is St. Anthony’s 45 minutes away from the flat, it’s one of the few days the wife and I can really enjoy one another’s company.

    I am not being glib when I ask if it is possible for one to ask for the Sacrament online…AIMish or something like that. Can I still be an Anglo-Catholic and wonder such things?


  3. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been…well…a while since my last confession and these are my sins.

    How many are the number of the stars? You know. That damn little red lizard that sits on the shoulder and whispers in your ear. Everything must go…at some point and time. St. Clive said in the GD, “Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death.”

    I suppose the Sacrament of Penance, or for you more lighthearted ones, Reconciliation via confession, helps to slowly but surely bring this about–if it’s done correctly by both parties. Of course, my boys have quite the unhealthy approach to this in many ways. If only the Anglicans could get their shit together the necessary balance might find a restoration of sorts.

    Once again, as St. Clive says in the GD, “Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains.”

  4. One thing I miss from my Roman Catholic days is the sacrament of reconciliation. However, there’s an increasing move in pentecostal churches towards “accountability partners.” We charismatics have realised the value of “confessing our sins, one to another.”


  5. J,
    One to another is quite fine and very biblical. But the advantage you have with a ‘collared one’ is that we take what you say to the grave.

    Indeed if we did get our mierda together we could make quite a splash. Anglican penance is direct and without the ‘how many times?’ mentality that Rome sometimes has. Orthodoxy gets it right on this point, too.

    I think the whole concept of ‘sin’ is what is so tough for pomos to think about and admit to another person. We priests could put psychologists out of business if our folks could put their guilt in the right hands (God’s), and stop trying to make it go away.

  6. The Ash Wednesday sermon I heard emphasized the need for repentance to extend beyond the personal. Which sounded great, but I have no idea how to begin repenting for my part in “corporate” sins. Father Neo, do you think repenting for corporate sins has a place in private confession, or is that just a time to repent for sins in which one has some control over whether or not those sins continue?

  7. Ha!–sometimes I think a lawyer might be helpful in preparing for a confession. I sweat over what to include–I mean, in the big scheme of things, does God really care if I held onto a lustful thought that crossed my mind last Tuesday for a bit too long? And, really, is gluttony still a sin? I think a lawyer could help me shorten my list quite a bit!

  8. Father Neo, I have a question. How does the confessor handle, emotionally and intellectually, all the stuff that he hears? Do you find that some of the things you hear weigh on your mind?

  9. Fortunately, I’ve never heard anything criminal or violent. Still, God seems to give me the ‘gift of forgetfulness.’ I am glad for his grace to forgive!

  10. i dunno,not being raised orthodox, i have no ties with the “sacrament of confession”. I have a hard time believing in any sort of miraculous healing or “absolution” or whatever. I really don’t understand the point of confessing to a priest. I wouldn’t even know where to start, or what to say, mostly because i have made the line so fuzzy between what is sin and what isn’t. I don’t know, I would rather take my issues to a psychiatrist, i have seen the fruits of that labor. I have begun to loose faith in God resolving any of my issues.

  11. WIGIAT,
    Nothing ‘miraculous’ about it, other than the promise of God’s forgiveness. Confidential, and free of charge.

  12. WIGIAT–although I do see value in a sacramental confession, I totally agree with you that sometimes it’s hard to tell if a particular bad habit or moment of personal failure is actually a “sin.” And when I find myself worrying too much about it, I try to remind myself that God’s not keeping score, anyway. (Which leads me to ask myself, why, again, am I going to confession?). But it’s Lent, darnit, so I’m going!

  13. It is also sometimes challenging to find a suitable confessor in ECUSA, with our denomination being what it is. When I started taking church seriously again, I went to my Rector for confession–the first time I had ten years worth of sinning to cop to (and I had a lot of fun in college)so he at least seemed on board with it. Then I went back a few months later with a much more chaste list of sins: no shoplifting, no binge drinking, no skipping church for years at a time… and the priest sat there cracking jokes, and said “now now, those don’t sound like sins to me, they just sound like the bad habits that make you into who you are” and it dawned on me that he didn’t really believe in sin in the same way I did. So finding a suitable confessor is not always easy.

  14. Sure, I’ll just bop over to Colorado to go to confession… though it would add “wanton extravagance” to the list of sins. I think if I’m going to cross that rubicon, that I have to procure an airline ticket to go to confession, then I’ll just bop over to England instead, and find some nice Anglican cleric with an accent to hear my confession. But look me up if you’re ever in Michigan.
    And anyway, that Rector had a stroke and moved to Florida and we got a lesbian interim… which means I got a new parish church, and my current Rector is better at it. Though he did giggle once, when I said “I can be a real judgemental fuck” while confessing… but that is another story for another time.

  15. Ranter,
    I see I should be wearing a purple stole just reading your posts! Maybe the Rocky Mountain air would be good for you. I’ve heard that many in the 4th century travelled miles just to find an non-Arian parish. Sounds like your current rector is a good guy, though.

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