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Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
Learn More: Saint Augustine

Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller?

In Confession, the Sacrament, do people today still understand that this is a required element of matter (besides the other, which is Contrition) for a Confession to be valid?

I've been having this discussion on Fakebook, and surprised, in light of some of the strange things being said on this subject by high-up prelates, that this is even an area that is so ignored/misunderstood/?

Firm Purpose of Amendment means that the Sacrament of Confession is not akin to taking your clothes to a dry cleaners. When you go to the dry cleaner, you don't say that you are going to try to do all that you can prudently to never get your clothes dirty again, but you are required to do this for Confession.
Jun 15 new
Yes Lynea
Jun 17 new
There seems to be a distinct lack of understanding in many cases. I admit, I myself forget sometimes to 'officially' form a firm purpose of amendment.. I try to combat that though by a (nearly-)nightly examination of conscience and I picked up an interested idea from a priest in a different parish: actually telling the priest your goal for the upcoming time and then at your next confession, tell that priest what your goal was and how you measured up to it.
It makes one think about it more. : )
Aug 27 new
excellent strategy. If more did this there would be less mortal sin in the world. always a plus.
Aug 28 new
(quote) Lynea-297530 said: Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller?

In Confession, the Sacrament, do people today still understand that this is a required element of matter (besides the other, which is Contrition) for a Confession to be valid?

I've been having this discussion on Fakebook, and surprised, in light of some of the strange things being said on this subject by high-up prelates, that this is even an area that is so ignored/misunderstood/?

Firm Purpose of Amendment means that the Sacrament of Confession is not akin to taking your clothes to a dry cleaners. When you go to the dry cleaner, you don't say that you are going to try to do all that you can prudently to never get your clothes dirty again, but you are required to do this for Confession.
Why worry about others when we ourselves may have done the same thing?

I have found that greater grace comes from receiving the Sacrament of Confession when I enter and leave determined to avoid repeating what I just confessed.

The key is never to suppose that we ourselves can accomplish what we have resolved to do. Without God's help and grace we are powerless and doomed to failure. So we must vanquish pride and beg for the grace to put our resolution into effect. God alone gives us the grace. We must supply the desire, willingness, and faithfulness. HE does the rest.

Last, we should never give in to discouragement if we fail. Setbacks are temporary. We must get right back up, resolve again, confess again, and continue. For most of us, improvement is a slow but steady process. We must never become comfortable with sin or presume on God's mercy by using this Sacrament as a revolving door, but neither can we despair of overcoming our defects of character and habitual sins.

**************************

Here's what two great saints have to say about willingness and acknowledgement of our own powerlessness:

"You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first stair. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be this little child: through the practice of all the virtues, always lift your little foot to mount the staircase of holiness, but do not imagine that you will be able to go up even the first step! No, but the good God does not demand more from you than good will. From the top of the stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you up... But if you stop lifting your little foot, He will leave you a long time on the ground." - St. Therese of Lisieux

and

It is here, my daughters, that love is to be found not hidden away in corners but in the midst of occasions of sin. And believe me, although we may more often fail and commit small lapses, our gain will be incomparably the greater. - St. Teresa of Avila


Aug 28 new
Hi Lynea,

Worthwhile topic.

I'm not sure what conversations you may have had or observed that lead you believe it is "ignored/misunderstood", but I trust that you have context.

We can never really speak to what is in a person's heart when they enter the confessional, so I hesitate to make a blanket statement. One thing I have observed, anecdotally of course, is best labeled presumption on the part of some who don't seem to understand that the Sacrament is not a pass for sin but a way to reconcile with God when we have failed. That is, I have heard a comment along the lines of "it's ok, I'll just go to confession!" Again, I will say that we simply don't know what is in a person's heart and I err on the side of their being flippant in comment rather than in sentiment.

Additionally, though we may have a firm purpose of amendment, the beauty of the Sacrament is God's understanding that we will fall. Again and again. I think there is a lot of wisdom in keeping Bernard's post in mind. The good Lord knows that there are too many times I find myself confessing the same thing. It does help me clarify where I need more grace.

A wonderful religious I know once said that sometimes one is able to see one's actions (past and present) in light of growth in the spiritual life. So that beyond contrition there is compunction. This sometimes inclines her to give a better confession, so to speak. I have found that to be true.

In Christ,
Leyden
Aug 28 new
(quote) Leyden-904885 said: Hi Lynea,

Worthwhile topic.
I'm not sure what conversations you may have had or observed that lead you believe it is "ignored/misunderstood", but I trust that you have context.
We can never really speak to what is in a person's heart when they enter the confessional, so I hesitate to make a blanket statement. One thing I have observed, anecdotally of course, is best labeled presumption on the part of some who don't seem to understand that the Sacrament is not a pass for sin but a way to reconcile with God when we have failed. That is, I have heard a comment along the lines of "it's ok, I'll just go to confession!" Again, I will say that we simply don't know what is in a person's heart and I err on the side of their being flippant in comment rather than in sentiment.
Additionally, though we may have a firm purpose of amendment, the beauty of the Sacrament is God's understanding that we will fall. Again and again. I think there is a lot of wisdom in keeping Bernard's post in mind. The good Lord knows that there are too many times I find myself confessing the same thing. It does help me clarify where I need more grace.
Leyden,

My point and anecdote was in the context of explaining that this person was not avoiding unnecessary near occasions of sin where HE KNEW he would be tempted into the very same habits of mortal sin he shared with a certain friend. That is a manifest sin, not one I presumed by rash judgment. The friend had said he didn't need to avoid unnecessary near occasions of sin because he only had to go to Confession. Actually, the irony was manifest (not judged as you described, rashly, but made known by this person's own admission and known actions) and that this person described invalid Confessions, albeit, unwittingly, perhaps, but that's describing a confession without proper matter.

I don't make up the rules, the Church does/ Christ does, it's his Church!

If you continue to not even attempt to avoid unnecessary near occasions of sin for sins you have trouble keeping out of --- how do you expect to live and die in God's grace? The Sacrament of Confession IS NOT VALID for ANYONE who does not have firm purpose of amendment at the time of the Confession! Part of that is avoiding unnecessary near occasions of sin that lead you to that sin you just confessed. That's required. I didn't make that up!

Yes, the saints talked about falling again and again... but they weren't talking about mortal sins! If one is falling repeatedly into mortal sins there is a whole lot of underlying sins that they are not avoiding as well. Sin builds upon sin. The saints were horrified by venial sins --- and they were concerned about semi-deliberate venial sins by the time they were saints, not fully deliberate venial sins.


Firm purpose of amendment is a requirement as necessary matter for a valid confession, no matter how small or great the sin(s).



www.audiosancto.org

www.audiosancto.org


www.audiosancto.org.








Aug 28 new
(quote) David-364112 said: Why worry about others when we ourselves may have done the same thing?

I have found that greater grace comes from receiving the Sacrament of Confession when I enter and leave determined to avoid repeating what I just confessed.

The key is never to suppose that we ourselves can accomplish what we have resolved to do. Without God's help and grace we are powerless and doomed to failure. So we must vanquish pride and beg for the grace to put our resolution into effect. God alone gives us the grace. We must supply the desire, willingness, and faithfulness. HE does the rest.

Last, we should never give in to discouragement if we fail. Setbacks are temporary. We must get right back up, resolve again, confess again, and continue. For most of us, improvement is a slow but steady process. We must never become comfortable with sin or presume on God's mercy by using this Sacrament as a revolving door, but neither can we despair of overcoming our defects of character and habitual sins.

**************************

Here's what two great saints have to say about willingness and acknowledgement of our own powerlessness:

"You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not yet know how to walk. In his desire to reach the top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first stair. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls. Well, be this little child: through the practice of all the virtues, always lift your little foot to mount the staircase of holiness, but do not imagine that you will be able to go up even the first step! No, but the good God does not demand more from you than good will. From the top of the stairs, He looks at you with love. Soon, won over by your useless efforts, He will come down Himself and, taking you in His arms, He will carry you up... But if you stop lifting your little foot, He will leave you a long time on the ground." - St. Therese of Lisieux

and

It is here, my daughters, that love is to be found not hidden away in corners but in the midst of occasions of sin. And believe me, although we may more often fail and commit small lapses, our gain will be incomparably the greater. - St. Teresa of Avila


"Why worry about others when we ourselves may have done the same thing?"
No. We are not 'equals' in the spiritual life. That is heretical. If you mean, we have all sinned somehow and have our own things we need to work on, yes, but you overcome your sins by hacking at the root, and practicing virtue, not by giving into to spiritual sloth and calling in humility.

"I have found that greater grace comes from receiving the Sacrament of Confession when I enter and leave determined to avoid repeating what I just confessed. "
That's because without firm purpose of amendment, you did not even make a valid confession.


I agree with the rest you wrote, as it was exactly my point: We are dependent upon God's grace, but God's grace is not something one should presume upon. We need to do our part.
Aug 29 new
(quote) Lynea-297530 said: "Why worry about others when we ourselves may have done the same thing?"
No. We are not 'equals' in the spiritual life. That is heretical. If you mean, we have all sinned somehow and have our own things we need to work on, yes, but you overcome your sins by hacking at the root, and practicing virtue, not by giving into to spiritual sloth and calling in humility.

I'm not advocating spiritual sloth. I'm warning against becoming spiritual busybodies ourselves. We have to many of our own defects of character to start sticking our nose into the state of other souls or making assumptions about them. This is a great risk for people of faith. Not that we'll run off and live riotously, but rather that we'll become self righteous and judgmental of others. The enemy is a subtle foe. He will dress up temptations in pious garb to make them appealing to believers. We need to take care.

I believe that even without a well-formed purpose of amendment, we still derive sacramental grace from confession which enables us eventually to grow into stronger resolutions of amendment. Often we struggle with the same sin and confess it regularly. We keep going and we keep trying. But when we ask for help and earnestly desire it, we will make progress. We abuse the sacrament and derive little or no grace from it if we use it solely to wipe the surface clean but have no interior desire or purpose to change the behavior. This sort of attitude (I believe) was more prevalent in the "good old days" so many Catholics yearn for. Most people who take the time to go to confession, have some purpose of amendment. It may not be firm. It may be worn down by frustration with repeated failure, but it's there. I'd avoid making blanket statements about a sacrament being "invalid". Most penitents don't always form the best firm amendment, but they do desire to avoid sin going forward. God looks into their soul and offers them the grace to overcome the temptation. That proffered grace is not always recognized or accepted, but God is merciful and hungry for souls and keeps extending the offer and grace in hope that we will begin to cooperate with his will for us and lead better lives. God wants us in heaven and tries to help. We need the grace to recognize and accept his help and WORK to put it into effect in our lives. But let's not say that most people who go to confession get nothing from it. That's an awful statement.


Aug 29 new
Lynea, Thanks for posting this topic. In the prayer room thread on the 54-Day Rosary Novena, I've been posting daily meditations on the mysteries of the rosary. Today's (Agony in the Garden) is on becoming aware of the exact nature of our sinfulness and on making a firm purpose of amendment.

You're rubbing off on us. That's good. God uses others in our lives to deliver messages we need to hear. Thanks again.
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