Confession only once in a lifetime?


#1

I was watching a video about St. Augustine from EWTN on YouTube, and it said in the early Church confession was only available to a person once during their lifetime. I had never heard of this, and now I am curious.

Can someone verify this? And if so, when and why did that change? (Thank goodness it did!)

The statement I am talking about comes about 2:20 into the video below.

Thanks!

youtube.com/watch?v=Vr8kh7OQ4_U


#2

In some areas – reconciliation for particularly grave sins (such as murder, adultery, idolatry) could happen but once.

Catechism:

1447 Over the centuries the concrete form in which the Church has exercised this power received from the Lord has varied considerably. During the first centuries the reconciliation of Christians who had committed particularly grave sins after their Baptism (for example, idolatry, murder, or adultery) was tied to a very rigorous discipline, according to which penitents had to do public penance for their sins, often for years, before receiving reconciliation. To this “order of penitents” (which concerned only certain grave sins), one was only rarely admitted and in certain regions only once in a lifetime. During the seventh century Irish missionaries, inspired by the Eastern monastic tradition, took to continental Europe the “private” practice of penance, which does not require public and prolonged completion of penitential works before reconciliation with the Church. From that time on, the sacrament has been performed in secret between penitent and priest. This new practice envisioned the possibility of repetition and so opened the way to a regular frequenting of this sacrament. It allowed the forgiveness of grave sins and venial sins to be integrated into one sacramental celebration. In its main lines this is the form of penance that the Church has practiced down to our day.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#VI


#3

Yes, it is true, and yes penances were very severe. Moreover, confession was in public in front of the entire congregation.


#4

In some places…


#5

Yes, it is true, and yes penances were very severe. Moreover, confession was in public in front of the entire congregation.

My, it makes Confessions of today seem so much…easier, I guess you could say. Phew.


#6

Once Confessed Always Confessed? :eek:


#7

I’m lucky if I can make it home from confession without sinning again!


#8

They should bring back public confession! Lol wouldn’t that starve illicit desires?


#9

So for such as very very serious things such as adultery or murder or idolatry (those where I think the main ones)–they did long penance and in some places one could enter into this order of penitents for these very serious sins -only once. One was expected not simply to be committing such very very bad things …even once let alone more than once …


#10

No, parishioners would either stop showing up at all… or they’d avoid confession entirely and receive communion anyway.

I’m truly thankful to live in a time and place where confession is between God, priest, and penitant, available a hypothetically infinite number of times throughout a person’s life.


#11

So for such as very very serious things such as adultery or murder or idolatry (those where I think the main ones)–they did long penance and in some places one could enter into this order of penitents for these very serious sins -only once. One was expected not simply to be committing such very very bad things …even once let alone more than once …

Remember that we meaning here what was done for those particularly grave things.


#12

[quote="Trebor135, post:10, topic:289020"]
No, parishioners would either stop showing up at all... or they'd avoid confession entirely and receive communion anyway.

I'm truly thankful to live in a time and place where confession is between God, priest, and penitant, available a hypothetically infinite number of times throughout a person's life.

[/quote]

Why would they stop coming? Because they fear public confession more then hell?
Are we to suppose that Catholics would receive communion with mortal sin on their hearts and discern damnation on themselves anyway instead of coming clean to their brothers and sisters in church?


#13

I’ve heard the sacrament of confession mentioned at a Catholic Mass once or twice. But I’ve never heard a priest or deacon explain in his homily that individuals must examine their conscience and go to confession in order to receive communion in a worthy manner.

Unfortunately, the contents of your post would be startling news to most Catholics. Even the majority of weekly churchgoers, I expect. They attend for the sake of maintaining family tradition, or out of a sense of obligation, but not necessarily on account of genuine piety. :frowning:


#14

Sadly, you may have a point. But I alas cannot but give the benefit of the doubt to my fellow Christians. Confession but once in a lifetime? I may need to move out of this country!

But for public confession, I’d probably stay here and try realy realy hard to not be a dummy! Lol. It would be extremely embarrassing to confess the likes of some sins in front of the elder ladies and younger children.


#15

Same here in Chicago as far as I have experienced in the last 43 years. Prior to that our church (now a basilica) was loaded with the faithful seeking God’s forgiveness. We have six double confessional boxes. Now for a long time I was once a year at best confessor, but now realizing how “bad” a “good” Catholic I really am, I go regularly every two weeks.
But there is only one confessional used now and heard for only 90 minutes on Saturday mornings. I think they use the others for storage. :shrug:

One of our visiting priests loves to tell the story of his time in Mexico. He said he spent hours in the hot confessional because the lines were extremely long. But during Mass less than half of the people went up to receive holy communion. He told the Mexican priest “back in Chicago, everyone goes to communion, and hardly anyone goes to confession.” The other priest said “Chicagoans must not be sinners.” :smiley:


#16

[quote="Trebor135, post:13, topic:289020"]
I've heard the sacrament of confession mentioned at a Catholic Mass once or twice. But I've never heard a priest or deacon explain in his homily that individuals must examine their conscience and go to confession in order to receive communion in a worthy manner.

Unfortunately, the contents of your post would be startling news to most Catholics. Even the majority of weekly churchgoers, I expect. They attend for the sake of maintaining family tradition, or out of a sense of obligation, but not necessarily on account of genuine piety. :(

[/quote]

Matthew 7:13-14
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.
14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

Should we persevere and enter the Father's Kingdom, we will be surprised at who is there, and who is not.


#17

Confession as we know it today comes for the Irish. They made popular the practice of frequent confession.


#18

[quote="Trebor135, post:13, topic:289020"]
But I've never heard a priest or deacon explain in his homily that individuals must examine their conscience and go to confession in order to receive communion in a worthy manner.

[/quote]

Why would they say that? That's not what the Church teaches. The Church teaches that we need to go to confession before communion if we've committed a mortal sin. Otherwise, an examination of conscience, contrition, and the penitential rite of Mass makes reception of communion "worthy."


#19

Right. I had that in mind, but should have written more clearly (“individuals must examine their conscience and if necessary–supposing they dig up grave sins–go to confession in order to receive communion in a worthy manner”).


#20

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.