By Fr. Kevin Fife
Editor's Note: Fr. Kevin Fife has designed and published a short and helpful guide to Confession. You may download the guide here. The following is a description of the guide. Earth & Altar has more resources for Confession here.
"...came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (From the Easter I Gospel, St. John xx, 19ff).
The Resurrected Lord, bearing the scars of his Peace, so specifically gave his Apostles the authority to forgive sins in his Name because he so specifically desires perfection for us. In the Help of the Holy Ghost we sound the depth of our sin to find that at the bottom all the while is the stricken Man of Sorrows and risen King of Glory waiting to meet us and bring us back in himself to the Father, conforming us to the humility of his Cross to bring us to the glory of his Resurrection. This endeavor, this hard but holy work of self-examination, of reflecting on our own consciences, of sounding the depth of our sin, is a basic part of the Christian pilgrimage. The tangible, sacramental form of this is Penance: making your confession to a priest who, however unworthily, stands in the midst, in the place of Jesus, to meet the depth of your sin with the depth of Christ’s Love.
This brief guide is meant to introduce the Sacrament of Penance and provide a form for making one's confession. It sets forth the basic Catholic doctrine of auricular confession with pertinent passages of Scripture and a handful of Patristic as well as modern Anglican quotes. An Examination of Conscience and some Acts (prayers) of Contrition are also provided.
Fr. Kevin Fife is Curate of All Saints Anglican Church in Wilmington, NC.