Friday, September 17, 2010

A couple of . . .

good posts on Private Confession and Absolution by Rev. McCain over at Cyberbrethren and by Fr. Peters over at Pastoral Meanderings.  I love the analogy by Pieper provided by Rev. McCain and I agree with Fr. Peters that the setting would be improved if we had actual "Confessionals" (i.e. Confessional Closets) in which this Blessed Sacrament could be administered.  But, as he notes, bringing those back is not likely to happen.  It's tough enough for the modern Lutheran pastor to convince modern Lutherans that Private Confession and Absolution should be retained by Lutherans.  We can quote AC XI till the cows come home, but many will continue to believe that this is something only Roman Catholics do.  And, even if we can convince them that Private Confession and Absolution is perfectly Lutheran, the difficulty remains in trying to convince them that it would be beneficial to them to use this Sacrament, since, well, they receive the General Absolution at the beginning of every Divine Service.  Restoring Private Confession and Absolution in the Lutheran parish is, indeed, a very steep hill to climb these days.  So, bringing back "Confessionals"?  Yeah, not gonna happen. 

In our small parish, we don't have the traffic that Fr. Peters gets in his larger parish, so the awkwardness of the setting is, to a great extent, lessened.  Like Fr. Peters, and the majority of Lutheran pastors who practice Private Confession and Absolution in their parishes, I sit vested in a chair at the altar rail perpendicular to the penitent who is kneeling, which works just fine.  We close the doors to the nave and, since that one time a few years back when someone did enter the nave during the Rite, not knowing that we were in there, we place a sign on the shut doors, alerting any comers that Private Confession and Absolution is being conducted.  As I said, it works just fine. 

I pray that, through ongoing catechesis and promotion, more of our beloved members will come to use this Sacrament.  What I know is this:  Those who do use this Sacrament almost always return, and usually return regularly, having experienced the great joy of hearing their Lord speak directly and personally to them, "I forgive YOU all YOUR sins."  I know how they feel.  I was scared to death the first time I used this Sacrament myself.  But, afterward, the joyous feeling of freedom was almost overwhelming.  And, no, I'm not saying that this is all about "feelings," but it would be simply absurd to avoid talking about the feelings a forgiven penitent has after being privately and personally absolved by their Lord.

Anyway, all this talk reminds me that I need to go see my Father Confessor . . .  

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