Sep 2, 2010


The definition of confession from
acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession ofincompetence.
acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, esp. to apriest to obtain absolution.
something that is confessed.
a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by aperson accused of a crime.
Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of beliefand acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted tochurch membership.
the tomb of a martyr or confessor or the altar or shrineconnected with it.

Christians know that confession is essential to the faith to reconcile one's self to God.
The early church recognized the need for confession--baptism alone does not keep a person from sinning--therefore the practice of confession and penance was begun. This confession took place publicly, and was often handled severely. However, like they did with most everything else, the Irish Christians came up with their own system, probably modeled on the practices of the Egyptian monks. Confession was private, and the confessor was a unique spiritual guide known as an anamcara, or soul friend. This practice, although likely initiated by the monks, spread to the Irish priests and bishops, and also to the European continent.

Confession was viewed as good for the soul. By the 8th century or so, the confessors were the church clergy, but before that anyone could be a confessor to anyone else, even GASP! women. Actually, in ancient Ireland it would not have been unusual to have women in such roles. It would have been perfectly normal, and as I've pointed out many times, St. Brigid is a wonderful example.

Confession became the practice of the Catholic Church, largely because of the initial practice by the early Irish Christians. Protestants practice confession also, but it is not stressed. I think it is still good for the soul, and necessary still for reconciliation with God.

Here's a prayer we've been using in my weekly prayer group. It's a modern update of an existing prayer of confession.

Prayer of Confession

Almighty and merciful God,

We have strayed from you like sheep.

We have followed our own desires

And offended you by not following your way.

We have failed to do what we should,

And we have done things we shouldn’t.

Have mercy on us, O God.

Grant grace to those who confess.

Restore those who are remorseful,

According to your promise through Jesus.

For his sake grant us mercy

So that we may hereafter live a life pleasing to you

And give you all the glory.

-Silent confession-

We have assurance that God is faithful and just and cleanses us from all sin.

Thanks be to God.

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