Wednesday, April 26, 2006

c.s. lewis went to confession regularly -- so should you





C.S. Lewis did not write much about sensational sins like murder or adultery or drunkenness. Rather he concentrated on more everyday failings such as tale bearing, ill temper, sloth and cowardice. He shows how seemingly small matters can have great consequences, separating a person from other human beings and ultimately God himself.

Lewis wrote as a man painfully aware of his own past sins and his present sinfulness. After his conversion, it took him a few years to muster the courage to make an auricular confession to an Anglican priest. About his first confession, he wrote (on October 24, 1940), “It was the hardest decision I have ever made.” From that time on he made regular confession to a priest.

Read more here.

10 comments:

The Ranter said...

"regularly" he says...

So how often do YOU go to confession, Fr. WB??

father wb said...

Regularly.

The Ranter said...

I have trouble coming up with something worth talking about when I go just twice a year... I can't imagine what I would have to confess if I went more regularly than that. If I was to start going...say... every other month... I would be talking about the same dull issues, over and over and over... and saying that I firmly intend ammendment of life when in fact I know full well I'm going to do those things over and over, and I mean no such thing... so I worry about lying in a sacramental context and thus sinning against the holy spirit... and thus, it seems safer to stay away...

father wb said...

Here's the deal:

I really don't go much more than you. I go, in practice, usually three times a year. But I have been told that the more often you go (aiming at weekly), the easier it is. And I have found that the shorter the interval between my confessions, the easier and more profitable (practically) they seem to be.

I would recommend just telling your cnofessor something like what you said in your last comment. Thoroughly examine your conscience, but don't be too scrupulous. Don't WORRY too much. Just do your best.

And I think a weekly, or generally more frequent confession (which I mean to commence as soon as I leave my current situation, which makes things difficultish) will help practically: i.e. in terms of the counsel / dirrection component of it, which should not be overlooked by concentrating on the objective benefit of absolution. I.e. by "opening your grief" to a "discreet and learned minister of God's Word" you can receive not only the "benefit of absolution" but also "ghostly counsel and advice" (as it says in the BCP). The ghostly counsel and advice can be a real help in overcoming patterns of sinful behavior --- in fighting one's "besetting" sins, i.e. the sins you fall into time and time again, and which most impede your spiritual growth and imperil your soul.

The challenge might be to find a "discreet and learned minister of God's word" rather than just some embiterred old lesbian. I don't mean to be coarse or uncharitable, but the usefulness of the ghostly counsel and advice is probably something like proportional to the discretion and learning (in the sense of this BCP passage) of the minister. Which is just to plug the value of confession within the context of spiritual direction.

Garland said...

In talking to my confessor about how frequently one needs the sacrament of reconciliation (as we call it), he told me that there are periods when one needs frequent confession and times when one doesn't, that is, when once or twice a year is enough. Then he seemed surprised to see me when I showed up again next week. I think if anything, catechetical preparation on this issue is pretty poor across the board (at least it certainly was in my catechism class).

The Ranter said...

What? You again? I hadn't expected to see you again until Advent...
heh heh heh
At one point I was wondering about the legalities of confessing in a Roman parish, because they have set times and booths with screens and priests who believe in sin... I figured that if I just went in, I could pull off Roman Catholic as well as the next guy... and nobody would be the wiser, except God, who I oftentimes suspect doesn't take our disagreements nearly as seriously as we take them, because He sees the BIG picture, which we are too limited to understand.

father wb said...

Ranter -

My fiancee (MM) often goes to confession at the RC Dominican place here in town, since most of the Whiskeypalians in town either don't really believe in sin, or aren't readily available to hear confessions. Sometimes (I think) she just doesn't tell them she's not RC.

Personally, I think that's fine. Its like the parable of the "unjust steward" (Luke 16), or the craftiness of Jacob stealing Esau's birthright (Gen. 25). These are folks who really wanted some grace, and who, relying on largesse of their master, used craftiness to get it.

God actually seems to like that kind of character for some reason. I mean Jacob was one of the most crafty, deceitful people in the Bible (cf. his dealings with Laban -- and he WRESTLES with God, demanding a blessing).

The Ranter said...

At the moment I am not in the market for a confessor... my Rector and I (we left the parish with the serial-monogamous lesbian interim) get on well, respect each other, and he's about as non-revisionist as you can get in this diocese. But you never know what the future holds. (My Rector is actually in your neck of the woods at the moment, his father in law, a doctor in New Haven, died last Saturday)
I am intrigued at your MM going to the Dominicans... how very progressive of her. My Roman Catholic wife has a theology degree from Aquinas College (where we met) which was founded by the Dominicans, and most of her profs were feminist Dominican nuns.

MM said...

Dear boys, yes, you all need to go to confession. Fr. WB's resignation on the one occasion when I didnt tell them that I'm not Catholic was a great consolation... usually I tell the confessor that I am Anglican; sometimes they absolve me anyway, sometimes they merely hear me and bless me, once I got something called a "provisional absolution" (?) My spiritual director is also a Dominican priest- what a blessing that order is.

The Ranter said...

"provisional absolution?"
either absolution is absolute or it isn't...
I wouldn't expect Rome to be wishy washy about this sort of thing... wishy washy is more ECUSA's department