Monday, 29 May 2006

Chesterton on Confession

It was never easy, he said, and it was proper it shouldn't be easy but he knew it was harder for him than for many. For one reason even his being a little over lifesize - naturally there was no confessional box big enough to house him. Wedged in there, very hot and perspiring, all thought ceased, all that was left was a sense of something that had got to be got through with. Devotion departed, even if he'd had it before.

Not only that but he couldn't remember what he had prepared to say. He thanked God for the formula, 'Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,' with which Confession opens. He often thanked God for ritual but never so much as then. But for the formula he would often have left. If he did leave he would probably take the confessional with him.

He found it hard to tell the sins, but then he 'swept into the Act of Contrition - Oh my God, I am sorry because I love Thee - sorry not only for the sins but for the negligence of the Confession.' Found he was saying it much louder than he realized and saw people turning to look at him as he came out. It was proper that that prayer went so well with the Domine non sum dignus [Lord, I am not worthy] before Holy Communion. He felt his inadequacy both for Confession and Communion, felt those two prayers tied together the two sacraments in one act of realizing his own unworthiness.

(from Maisie Ward, Return to Chesterton, 1952, 244-45)


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1:29 pm  

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