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Monday, December 08, 2008

General Absolution = FORBIDDEN!

Fr. Hulk (Now Fr. Cranky)has another great post up today, this time about Communal Penance services, wherin he defines the different forms.

I'm going to skip to his main point (bolded sections are my emphasis):

The United States recognizes three forms of the process, two of which are allowed, and one which is forbidden except in extreme emergency (civil war, nuclear war, Wrath-of-God type natural disaster when bodies are stacked like cord-wood and there seems no hope for any of us and we want to get right with God before we see Him face-to-face).

Form three is forbidden in the United States except under the conditions listed above. Of course, therefore, this is a common use in the U.S. It is where everyone gathers, listens to some long-winded homily about the eco-sins we have committed against our mother Gaia/Earth and our social sins by not voting for homosexual marriage, and then we all think really haaaaard, and really sorrrrry for our sins, the priest flaps around like a chicken, and presto-chango our sins are gone. We skip happily home having put out no effort other than to drive there and back and feel really good about ourselves. Murder, adultery, abortion, all forgiven with no fuss and no muss. Except for the fact that this type of service is forbidden. Little catch there we don't like to recognize. (I really like typing forbidden in italics!)

So what caused the priest to take it upon himself to offer such illicit activities? Maybe people actually showed up to acknowledge their sins and ask for forgiveness. That's a shocker than can rock Fr. Progressive ('scuse me, just call me Proggy) right back on his heels. Despite his best efforts for years and years to convince people there is no such thing as a real sin, some of they cling to their guns and God (sound familiar) and still think they need forgiving. A real turnout can panic Proggy because he didn't schedule enough priests to be there, and he might have to actually hear confessions completely through the time when Desperate Housewives is showing. Quelle horror! So you think, Proggy flaps, and we all get what we want.

Here's a little thought. What about confessions offered during times when folks actually show up, as well as having a Saturday afternoon/appointment schedule? Oh let's say before and after every Mass? Or if multiple priests are in a parish, it is permissible to offer confessions during Mass itself. Oh, I know the liturgists cringe at such a thought, but if folks are there, and they are sorry, we can offer the opportunity. It does mean extra work though for the priest. He may not get to rush off to breakfast or lunch with the well-heeled parishioners, or dash back up to the rectory for a scotch and soda right away.


While so many of us are clinging to our guns and our God and recognizing up and down that we NEED individual absolution, that Christ ESTABLISHED the Sacrament that way, there are STILL badly-formed priests out there who find every flimsy excuse in the world to keep people from receiving the mercy of Christ HIMSELF!

I know of a few parishes in our Archdiocese that, at least until last year, were offering this illicit, nay...FORBIDDEN form of the sacrament, in spite of the fact that several successive Bishops have notified them of that fact. (Apparently their vows of obedience to the Bishop weren't considered very important, either....)

And I'll stop there, because I'm going down the bad road to criticizing priests. I'll not name any names or any parishes in order to protect the guilty; for as I've read, it is for God alone to deal with disobedient priests. It is OUR place to pray for them. We can recognize that they are doing something wrong, and we can certainly speak out, write the Bishop, etc., but we can never attack a priest.

Suffice to say, at this point, that it saddens me that people are being lead to believe first that it's just fine and dandy to be disobedient, and secondly, that Jesus didn't have to be taken seriously when He gave the example of personal forgiveness.

Seriously. Search scripture. Just try to find ONE example where Jesus gave "general absolution" to a crowd of people. Where He said "your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more" to an entire group.

It's not in there. In EVERY case, the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ arose out of a PROFOUND PERSONAL ENCOUNTER with Our Lord, and THAT is what He intended when He gave the Apostles (Jn 20:21) the authority to forgive sin in His name.

I, for one, am profoundly grateful for this Sacrament. And I've made difficult confessions, my twelve-year one having even been made face-to-face at a (Form 2) Communal service. It was turning point in my life, it was amazing to realize that in spite of the mess that I was, I was FORGIVEN!

Had I gone to a General Absolution service, I would have left knowing that I wasn't really forgiven because it wasn't personal and there was no emergency.

The only thing Fr. Hulk left out of his post was this: Those who receive General Absolution in an emergency, if they survive that emergency, they remain OBLIGATED to confess any mortal sins...such as adultery, pornography, abortion, murder, sacrilege, etc.

And this is not a punitive thing! It is an expression of the Mercy of God, who knows that if we have committed such sins, we don't just need forgiveness, but we need healing. It is a pastoral concern. There are a lot of wounded people out there who need something more than a magick wand waved over them. They need a personal encounter with Christ, and if they are being denied, they cannot experience true conversion. They cannot fully live up to who they are called to be.

It saddens me so much that disobedient priests cause so much damage to so many people. Pray for them, and pray for all those who have been cut off from God's Mercy, in hopes that they will finally go to Christ's ministers for the healing and forgiveness they desperately need.

NOTE: Link has been updated as Father's blog has moved.


X said...

Sterling and timely post. Please repost it again during Lent.

Fr. Cranky said...

Thanks Adoro for your small correction. I've posted a post about your post. I have to go lay down now, I'm dizzy.

Lillian Marie said...

Even if there were an 'act of God' type disaster - we would STILL have to go to Confession (face-to-face) with a Priest. So, why not do it that way first??? *eyes rolling*

Anyway - this 'nicey-feely' type Confession sounds an awful lot like the on-line confessions that are taking off.

It's like they're afraid of going...why??? Yeah, you HAVE to voice your sins before a Priest... but what they don't understand is that this Priest is only there because of God! It's not accusing yourself in front of the Priest - it's accusing yourself in front of Jesus Christ, who is standing right behind the Priest! And...for that matter, He already knows WHAT you did & how many times you did it!


thing is ... I used to be one of those people. Give me the 'nicey-feely' new-age type confessions (writing them down on a piece of paper & then burning them so the smoke from the paper will then travel up to God). Yup! Did it.

What I didn't expect was that I never felt better after doing that. weird. I wrote everything down ... did what the Priest & Sister said ... but yet, still felt empty.

The first time I returned back to the confessional, the REAL confessional, I cried when I came out (also cried when I was in there) ... but I felt like I was walking on air! I FELT Jesus' mercy! I FELT His love!

There is nothing like that feeling ... and oh, if we all could just have that same experience! wow!

Adoro said...

Angela ~ Oh, I'm sure this topic will come up again! * sigh *

Fr. Hulk ~ Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and for your link of my post... OK, now I'm dizzy, too. And if you stop by again, you're right that those who hold those illicit services don't mention that all-important detail of individual confession of mortal sins being REQUIRED. I'm hoping that someone who doesn't know that stops by here and your blog and gets that message.

LM ~ I know why they're afraid of going; because their conscience has told them they have, in fact, done something wrong and they are deserving of Hell. And so they've already condemned themselves, and anything that makes them believe that they are actually ok and everyone is ok is a comfort. Unfortunately, it doesn't clean up the mess. As you and I have learned. I used to be like that, too, but thankfully never got into the new-agey touchey-feely services. I think the Holy Spirit must have kept me away. And my Guardian Angel working overtime!

Melody K said...

It's weird, but even in the whacked-out '70's I never encountered a priest who gave general absolution without personal confession. Not doubting that it happens, just must have missed it. When I was a somewhat bad teenager, I certainly would have liked to have gone to such a penance service. The next best thing was a priest who didn't speak English ("You are sorree..yes, no? Make good act of contrition!)

owenswain said...

Just today I was reading an excellent article on the topic at - not for the faint of heart.

And, I am still trying to find a way to write about my first First Friday mass and my second ever High Latin Mass - where, interestingly enough, the celebrant noted the new information provided at the back on what to expect when you come to Confession now because they are following that which has been set out to accompany the Extra Ordinary Form of the Mass. Yes, it's Extra Ordinary Penance. Woo hoo.

Don't tell the people in my parish but I could be being drawn elsewhere.

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Adoro said...

Melody ~ I've never heard of a Gen Absolution service that actually involves individual confession. In fact, I know someone who converted to Catholicism, somehow managed to avoid personal confession, and won't go to anythig other than Gen Absolution. Because they DON'T offer anything but that. :-(

Please pray for him. He's up there in years...his daughter and I both hope he does finally make his Confession!

Owen ~ As long as you're not talking schizm! lol

Banshee said...

We have lots of penance services with individual absolution. Herd everybody into church, read or sing a couple things to make them think, maybe read an examination of conscience -- and then split into lines, 'cause there's five or ten priests all waiting to hear your confession!

Makes me a little paranoid to go to confession out in the open like that, but it does get people to go.
Also, the porta-confessional somebody built makes an appearance.

And then, when people hear there's confession going on, people suddenly appear from everywhere to join one of the lines. You start with maybe forty people at the service, and end up with a hundred or two hundred more in line. We won't let the poor priests go home.

Anonymous said...

Maureen ~ My parish doesn't even do communal services. We have the Sacrament available multiple times per day. But twice per year they have priests come in all day/evening, and other parises in our area do the same thing. So no "pseudo-liturgy", just a phalanx of priests to take on the multitudes of penitents.

It's awesome.

owenswain said...

"Owen ~ As long as you're not talking schizm! lol"

As a former protestant it's tempting but darn it, I believe in the teachings of the Church.

Warren said...

Hi Adoro.

I'm 100% in agreement with you and Fr. Hulk.

Sometimes, though, I wonder.... What is the practice in the Eastern Catholic rite churches? What is the practice among the orthodox? I believe one of the large differences between the East and the West lies here. I wonder sometimes how we came to have such wild differences, and whether or not such wild differences exist in the Eastern Catholics and ourselves.

Check this out:

At the bottom is the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic form of the sacrament of penance. Do Eastern Catholics deny the idea of grave/mortal sin, and of there being such a thing as a state of mortal sin?


Anonymous said...

Hi, Warren, interesting question. And that was a pretty good entry in Wikipedia (I don't tend to trust Wiki with truly reliable info).

Anyway, I'm not familiar with their form of the Sacrament. However, if that IS what they hold, well, it's not scriptural. Jesus, and the Apostles were very clear in that we can lose our salvation through sin. They state very clearly what types of sins will indicate that we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

(ie fornicators, drunkards, aldulterers, etc...)

There are Orthodox priests who blog...if you check out Crescat's blog (linked on my sidebar), she has Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox links. Maybe one of them can answer that question definitively for you?

Andy said...

Hi there,

Eastern Catholics are faithful to the Magisterium. They believe everything that the church teaches. They may express it in a different way, but the essence is exactly the same. Otherwise they wouldn't be called "Catholic".

Peace be with you!

Anonymous said...

the-rooster ~ Thanks for your comment. Certainly Eastern Catholics are faithful and believe the same things (through perhaps different expression), however, Eastern Orthodox are NOT Catholic and although they share many of our beliefs, they do depart on some different things. As such, they are not called "Catholic".

In case anyone else drops by and reads this: Maronite, Ruthenian, Byzantine, etc., are all Catholic churches. Greek Orthodox (aka Eastern Orthodox), Russian Orthodox, and some others are NOT in union with Rome.