Discuss the development of the Sacrament of Penance as we know it today
The Rev. Clifford Howell, S.J., says all that needs to be said when he states, "Did you realize that the Sacrament of Penance (which we normally allude to as "confession") was at one time an open undertaking? That appears to be fairly stunning to our mindset, yet it is by the by a reality. In the early hundreds of years of the Church's history, individuals who needed to have their sins excused experienced a trial the very idea of which nearly influences our hair to remain on end. Furthermore, however the things they needed to do have now been ceased, it is justified regardless of our while to pick up something about them, in light of the fact that along these lines we should go to a superior comprehension of the Sacrament of Penance as we now have it.
It is eccentric how things regularly wind up known by names which show some purpose of lesser significance… So with this sacrament - we call it 'confession or penance… .' And, obviously, it involves both confession and penance. Yet, the extremely imperative thing about it is that it carries reconciliation with God. It appears to be somewhat a pity that we don't call it 'absolution' or some such name, since that is the thing that issues most. Furthermore, that is the thing that has remained essentially unaltered during the time regardless of the progressions which have occurred in regard of the confession and penitential parts of it.
In long time past days this sacrament was utilized just for the pardoning of mortal sins. In various circumstances and places there were numerous varieties of strategy and it would take an entire book to portray them all… . All in all it might be said that if the sins to be excused were mystery sins they could be admitted in mystery; while in the event that they were open sins (kill, infidelity, assault, magic, prevarication, disaffection) at that point they must be admitted in broad daylight before the entire community.
The whole Christian community collected in the church, where the Bishop… sat upon his position of royalty; and his clerics, elders and subdeacons organized themselves on each side of him. The sinners were driven shoeless into the middle of the assemblage and prostrated themselves on the ground. They affirmed what they had done, and the Bishop conveyed judgment with respect to whether absolve would be allowed and what penance was to be forced (generally a year or more). At that point they were strolled to the entryways of the Church and needed to stay outside until the point that they completed their penance.
Upon the arrival of reconciliation [usually on Holy Thursday], the function was much more serious. Once more, shoeless and in penitential attire, the penitents stooped outside the shut entryways of the church… until the point that the Bishop went to the entryway and all the Church asked that they be readmitted to the body of the devoted. The Bishop presented them, implored over them in thanksgiving, extended his hands over them, conferred absolution and gave them a gift. At that point the entire community invited them back. Presently they could go home and change from their penitential pieces of clothing, have a shower, trim their hair and trim their whiskers, and resume their customary garments. Also, there was incredible satisfaction among every one of the general population."
Today the Sacrament of Reconciliation is communicated in an unexpected way, yet the components have continued as before: Remorse for our sins, confession of our sins, pardoning, and incredible euphoria in the tolerant love that God has for us.
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