Well, if it’s all the same to you, I think a priest ought to be the one to sort out whose confession is valid and whose isn’t, don’t you?
I’ve seen people come on CAF afraid to go to confession because they don’t think they’re sufficiently contrite. They should go to confession, just the same. Most of the time they’re confused about what sins they’ve committed and what they need to do in order to receive valid absolution. It’s not up to us to tell them they’ll be wasting their time if they go. Let their confessor help them figure it out. They don’t need any more discouragement from us, don’t you think?
The Sacrament of Confession is in deed between the Priest and the Penitent… yet, it is not up to either of them to cleanse the unrighteousness from the Penitent… it is all God’s doing… so this necessitates that the Penitent be, above all, pure of heart… not pure of heart as in sinless… pure of heart in his/her intent to Confess the unrighteous act/s…
Hollowood has introduced *gimmick confession *into the mind of even the most well-intentioned person… this is similar to the scare tactics employed by the ultra religious in Church’s history where they presented a theology that demanded purity (something of an impossibility for man–less he humbles himself to God’s Will and fully adheres to Christ every moment of his life)… they taught that after Baptism man could receive forgiveness of his sins but once (no doubt they picked it up from Scriptures–that passage that suggest that once we have entered into Knowledge of the Holy Spirit and God’s Mercy it is impossible to regenerate/convert back from rejecting it)… so many began to wait well into adulthood before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism.
…another similar error that crept in was the “wait till” confessions–these people (no doubt aided by theologies similar to hollowood’s) began to think that they could commit their whole life to “whatever” and that when they though it proper (once they would be too old to be able to sow any more wild oats) or at their death-bed they would push their way into Heaven by claiming “confession” (coincidentally, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction was/is also abused under the belief that man can put off his reconciliation with God and, in spite of his willfulness to remain in unrighteousness, he’ll have a clean slate on his death-bed).
Any Penitent truly seeking forgiveness needs not to worry about my understanding or anyone else’s; most Catholic Priests are more than willing to guide us in our Confessions–there are parishes that even offer a leaflet which lists the various sins (from venial to grave) and the proper way we should enter the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Without sorrow for sin there is no forgiveness. Hence the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, c. 4): “Contrition, which holds the first place among the acts of the penitent, is sorrow of heart and detestation for sin committed, with the resolve to sin no more”. The Council (ibid.) furthermore distinguishes perfect contrition from imperfect contrition, which is called attrition, and which arises from the consideration of the turpitude of sin or from the fear of hell and punishment. See ATTRITION; CONTRITION, where these two kinds of sorrow are more fully explained and an account is given of the principal discussions and opinions. See also treatises by Pesch, Palmieri, Pohle. For the present purpose it need only be stated that attrition, with the Sacrament of Penance, suffices to obtain forgiveness of sin.
…let’s not forget what is meant by Confession/'Reconciliation:
contrition as “sorrow of soul, and a hatred of sin committed, with a firm purpose of not sinning in the future”. This hatred of sin may arise from various motives, may be prompted by various causes. (newadvent.org/cathen/02065a.htm)
…the mechanism is in place to bring us back to God; a Penitent cannot be a true penitent less he/she is contrite and fully intended in rejecting his/her error… the factoring of “perfect/imperfect” is not the disposition of the contrition but of the *cause *that propels to contrition–if geared towards God, perfect; if done out of fear, imperfect.
The point being that even imperfect contrition or attrition, is sufficient reason to go to confession and receive absolution. Again, let’s leave it to the confessor to give such penitents spiritual direction, but by all means, let’s get them to confession in the first place.
…I think that we are engaging past each other… perfect/imperfect is not an issue (perfect: oriented towards God–our cognizant pain for offending God and our determinate intentions of not sinning against His Goodness vs. imperfect: purely oriented towards fear of hell and/or loss of Heaven); in either case contrition must be felt and understood.
…it is hollowood’s spiritualism that makes a scapegoat out of the Sacrament of Confession and those who engage in such spiritualism are only deceiving themselves… it is as one that holds the belief that he/she can keep a foot in hell while reaching for Heaven… or more to the point the philosophy that one can believe in a god or in Yahweh God just in case… that’s not Faith (not all who call me Lord…); a person can deceive a Priest or his/herself… but not God.
I could enter into the Sacrament in willful disobedience (no contrition) and the Priest could be aware of my stubbornness but not know my true intent… ‘please, Father, forgive me for a have robbed my neighbors blind…’ If I’ve no intentions of making amends (reparations and ceasing the act) the Absolution is only methodical since it falls short of the Sacrament… in order words, as it was once coined, it takes two to tango!
However, if I (or any other Penitent) am ignorant of the true extent of my sin/s (the damage caused, the depth or gravity, etc.) the fact that contrition is in place does allow for Absolution since God, Knowing my heart, will cleanse me (regardless of perfect/imperfect contrition).
…the issue of perfect/imperfect contrition unfolded…
…I picked up some reasoning (from your post) that what is important is that a person engages in Confession not that they be contrite…
…you’ve intimated that it is the Priest who determines Absolution…
…I’ve tried to explain that contrition is necessary for Absolution…
…that perfect/imperfect contrition is not a gauge for Absolution since the gauge is contrition…
…I’ve tried to explain that if I have no intention in Repentance (turning back to God and rejecting sin) following the prescribed rite of Confession yields no merits…
…too many times hollowood spiritualism allows for an unrepentant sinner to go through the motion (they are making a mockery of the Sacrament) and since it is a “cool” thing to do (not owning up to any personal responsibility) people believe that they have found a loophole into Salvation.
And I hope you understand that unless you are a confessor you cannot possibly determine whose contrition is adequate, who is being sincere, who isn’t, and why anyone goes to confession. That’s not our call to make–Hollywood not withstanding. Most people who bother to go to confession these days know why they are there and that they need to be repentant of their sins, otherwise they wouldn’t even bother.
I have never been influenced by Hollywood regarding anything since they are in the entertainment business not in the business of conveying truth. And once a person is in the confessional it is then up to their confessor, not you or I to determine if they are properly contrite or not.
Please don’t discourage people by determining for them if they are contrite enough to bother the priest. Let us, by all means, encourage them to go, even if they’re not sure why they need to go because the Holy Spirit is the one who makes up for all our inadequacies, not our own efforts. This is my last word on the subject because I will not go on repeating what doesn’t need repeating.
…again, we seem to be texting past each other… I have not suggested (not even once) that I can determine who is contrite or who receives Absolution.
Not once have I stated that those who seek the Sacrament of Confession cannot do so less I approve of them… nor have I stated any parameters for God’s Acceptance of their Confession.
…I have stated that neither the Penitent nor the Priest can determine whose contrition is accepted by God as truthful and that a Confessor can deny/circumvent the Sacrament of Confession through deceit/construct while the Priest remains oblivious to the error/falsehood being perpetrated… that it is God’s Who Determines the Absolution that is dispensed by the Priest…
I desire that our Confessionals be opened daily and that there would be a long line of Penitents seeking Reconciliation… more than that I desire that Believers refrain from temptations and sin…
…that said, I hope you don’t mind if we give this issue a rest.