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Absolution

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Absolution

Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Penance. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, Lutheran churches and Methodist churches.

Contents

  • Roman Catholic Church 1
  • Eastern Orthodox Churches 2
    • Greek Orthodoxy 2.1
    • Russian Orthodoxy 2.2
  • Anglican Communion 3
  • Methodist Church 4
  • Oriental Orthodox Churches 5
    • Armenians 5.1
    • Copts 5.2
    • Jacobites 5.3
    • Nestorians 5.4
  • Lutheran Church 6
  • The Reformed tradition 7
  • Liberal Catholic Movement 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
    • Notes 10.1
    • Citations 10.2

Roman Catholic Church

Traditional confessional from Sicily.

Absolution is an integral part of the Sacrament of Penance, in Roman Catholicism. The penitent makes a sacramental confession of all mortal sins to a priest and prays an act of contrition. The priest then assigns a penance and imparts absolution in the name of the Trinity, on behalf of Christ Himself, using a fixed sacramental formula. The traditional formula is:

Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis (suspensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, so far as my power allows and your needs require. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Thereupon, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The current formula, after the liturgical reforms of 1970, is:

Deus, Pater misericordiárum, qui per mortem et resurrectiónem Fílii sui mundum sibi reconciliávit et Spíritum Sanctum effúdit in remissiónem peccatórum, per ministérium Ecclésiæ indulgéntiam tibi tríbuat et pacem. Et ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii,+ et Spiritus Sancti.
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

The essential part of the formula (the words which must be said for the absolution – and the entire Sacrament of Penance – to take effect, or, in Church law terms, be "sacramentally valid") are: "I absolve you from your sins".

Absolution of sins most importantly forgives Apostolic Penitentiary), the local Bishop, or a priest authorized by the Bishop.

This formula is preceded by other short prayers similar to those used at Mass after the Confiteor. Suspension, in the context of the formula for absolution, refers to a canonical penalty which can be incurred only by clerics; therefore, it is omitted when absolving a layman.

Some priests use, in both the ancient and the more recent form, a short prayer for the spiritual well-being of the penitent: Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, merita Beatae Mariae Virginis et omnium sanctorum, quidquid boni feceris vel mali sustinueris sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, augmentum gratiae et praemium vitae aeternae. Amen. (May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints and also whatever good you do or evil you endure merit for you the remission of your sins, the increase of grace and the reward of everlasting life. Amen). This prayer shows the concepts of merit and the Communion of Saints in the greater context of grace as understood in Catholic theology.

Absolution forgives the guilt associated with the penitent's sins, and removes the eternal punishment (Hell) associated with mortal sins, but only if the penitent has a firm purpose of amendment and is truly contrite. The penitent is still responsible for the temporal punishment (Purgatory) associated with the confessed sins, unless an indulgence is applied or, if through prayer, penitence and good works, the temporal punishment is cancelled in this life.

A depiction of the general absolution given to the Royal Munster Fusiliers by Father Francis Gleeson on the eve of the Battle of Aubers Ridge.

General absolution, where all eligible Catholics gathered at a given area are granted absolution for sins without prior individual confession to a priest, is lawfully granted in only two circumstances: [1]:961

  1. there is imminent danger of death and there is no time for a priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents,
  2. a serious need is present, that is, the number of penitents is so large that there are not sufficient priests to hear the individual confessions properly within a reasonable time (generally considered to be 1 month) so that the Catholics, through no fault of their own, would be forced to be deprived of the sacrament or communion. The diocesan bishop must give prior permission before general absolution may be given under this circumstance. It is important to note that the occurrence of a large number of penitents, such as may occur on a pilgrimage or at penitential services is not considered as sufficient to permit general absolution. The second circumstance is thus envisaged more for mission territories where priests may visit certain villages only a few times a year.

For a valid reception of general absolution, the penitent must be contrite for all his mortal sins and have the resolution to confess at the next earliest opportunity each of those mortal sins that is forgiven in general absolution. Anyone receiving general absolution is also required to make a complete, individual confession to a priest as soon as possible before receiving general absolution again. Contemporary examples of general absolution are the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, where general absolution was granted to all Catholics endangered by the incident,[2] and the FDNY firefighters, many of whom were Italian and Irish, who were granted general absolution by local priests before heading into the burning World Trade towers on September 11, 2001.[3]

The French form Tridentine Mass.

Eastern Orthodox Churches

Eastern Orthodoxy is made up of a loose confederacy of Christian churches in the Eastern tradition and the eastern region, sharing the same or similar doctrine and practice. As a professed Christian Congregation, Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian church in the world,[4] with an estimated 225–300 million adherents,[5] primarily in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the Middle East. It claims and teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission[6] to the disciples almost 2,000 years ago. The main branches of Eastern Orthodoxy are considered by many to be the Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox. And both have similar views on repentance and absolution.

Greek Orthodoxy

The

Russian Orthodoxy

The belief of the Greek Church is naturally also that of the Russian in this regard.

Anglican Communion

In the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion in general, formal, sacramental absolution is given to penitents in the sacrament of penance now formally called the Reconciliation of a Pentitent and colloquially called "confession." There is also a general absolution given after general confessions in the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer and after the general confession in the Eucharist.

Often, physical actions accompany an absolution. A priest or bishop makes the sign of the cross over the congregation. Those receiving the absolution may make the sign of the cross as well.

At minimum, Anglican

Canada's Book of Alternative Services nuances the words of absolution slightly: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has left power to his Church to forgive sins, absolve you through my ministry by the power of his Holy Spirit and restore you to the perfect peace of the Church." [7]

[2]

Methodist Church

In the [note 1] some Methodist churches have regularly scheduled auricular confession and absolution, while others make it available upon request.[12] Since Methodism holds the office of the keys to "belong to all baptized persons", private confession does not necessarily need to be made to a pastor, and therefore lay confession is permitted, although this is not the norm.[13] Near the time of death, many Methodists confess their sins and receive absolution from an ordained minister, in addition to being anointed.[14] In Methodism, the minister is bound by the Seal of the Confessional, with The Book of Discipline stating "All clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences"; any confessor who divulges information revealed in confession is subject to being defrocked in accordance with canon law.[15] As with Lutheranism, in the Methodist tradition, corporate confession is the most common practice, with the Methodist liturgy including "prayers of confession, assurance and pardon".[16] The traditional confession of The Sunday Service, the first liturgical text used by Methodists, comes from the service of Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer.[16] The confession of one's sin is particularly important before receiving Holy Communion; the official United Methodist publication about the Eucharist titled This Holy Mystery states that:

We respond to the invitation to the Table by immediately confessing our personal and corporate sin, trusting that, “If we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our expression of repentance is answered by the absolution in which forgiveness is proclaimed: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”[17]

Many Methodists, like other Protestants, regularly practice confession of their sin to God Himself, holding that "When we do confess, our fellowship with the Father is restored. He extends His parental forgiveness. He cleanses us of all unrighteousness, thus removing the consequences of the previously unconfessed sin. We are back on track to realise the best plan that He has for our lives."[18]

Oriental Orthodox Churches

Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian churches which recognize only the first three ecumenical councils—the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon held in AD 451 in Chalcedon. Hence, these Oriental Orthodox churches are also called Old Oriental churches, Miaphysite churches, or the Non-Chalcedonian churches, known to Western Christianity and much of Eastern Orthodoxy as Monophysite churches (although the Oriental Orthodox themselves reject this description as inaccurate, having rejected the teachings of both Nestorius and Eutyches).[19] These churches are in full communion with each other but not with the Eastern Orthodox churches. Slow dialogue towards restoring communion began in the mid-20th century.[20] Many branches have slight variations in their doctrine of absolution and penance.

Armenians

Copts

Henri Hyvernat asserts that the Passio Domini, for it is like the Latin prayer only inasmuch as it is recited after absolution.

Jacobites

The Syrians who are united with the Roman See use the declarative form in imparting absolution, a relatively recent formula. The present Jacobite Church not only holds and has held the power to absolve from sin, but its ritual is expressive of this same power. Denzinger (Ritus Orientalium) has preserved for us a twelfth-century document which gives in full the order of absolution.

Nestorians

The Nestorians have at all times believed in the power to absolve in the Sacrament of Penance. Assemani, Renaudot, Badger (Nestorians and their Rituals), also Denzinger, have the fullest information on this point. It is noticeable that their formula of absolution is deprecatory, not indicative.

Lutheran Church

[22]

The second form of confession and absolution is known as "[23] In the Lutheran Church, the pastor is bound by the Seal of the Confessional (similar to the Roman Catholic tradition). Luther's Small Catechism says "the pastor is pledged not to tell anyone else of sins told him in private confession, for those sins have been removed.[24]

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the second form of confession and absolution fell into disuse; at the present time, it is, for example, expected before partaking of the Eucharist for the first time.[25]

"Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary." —Augsburg Confession, Article 9

The Reformed tradition

The earliest Reformers attacked the penitential practice of the Catholic Church, particularly the confession of sins to an ordained priest. Their opinions expressed in their later theological works do not differ as markedly from the old position as one might suppose.

The Lutheran tenet of justification by faith alone would make all absolution merely declarative, and reduce the pardon granted by the Church to the merest announcement of the Gospel, especially of remission of sins through Christ. Thus, no actual absolution of actual sin could possibly be granted, as the declaration itself sufficed, according to the Lutheran view.

Zwingli held that God alone pardoned sin, and he saw nothing but idolatry in the practice of hoping for pardon from a mere creature. If confession had aught of good it was merely as direction. Catholic Christians disagree, saying the priest does not forgive sins in and of himself, but is rather the unworthy instrument through whom Christ forgives sin.

Rite itaque et efficaciter ministri absolvunt dum evangelium Christi et in hoc remissionem peccatorum prædicant."

Liberal Catholic Movement

The Liberal Catholic Movement believe that absolution is important. Liberal Catholic Church International states: We teach that Christ has given to the Priests of His Church the power to absolve the repentant faithful from their sins. We teach that the Sacrament of Absolution is a loosening from the bondage of sin, a restoration of the inner harmony that was disturbed by the wrongdoing, so that the person can make a fresh start toward righteousness. We do not teach that Absolution is a way of escaping the consequences of one's misdeeds. "Harbor no illusions; God is not deceived: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)[26]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ A Service of Healing II, after the "Confession and Pardon", states "A Confession and Pardon from 474–94 or A Service of Word and Table V or UMH 890–93, or an appropriate psalm may be used." The words noted here are thus taken from page 52 of the Book of Worship, which details the Service of Word and Table V, specifically the conclusion of the part of the rite titled "Confession and Pardon".

Citations

  1. ^ "Code of Canon Law - The Celebration of the Sacrament". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1983. 
  2. ^ Fr. William Saunders (1998). "Straight Answers: Is General Absolution Allowed?". Arlington Catholic Herald. 
  3. ^ Joseph Pronechen (2011). "Remembering 9/11". National Catholic Register - EWTN News, Inc. 
  4. ^ "Major Branches of Religions". adherents.com. 
  5. ^ Mary Fairchild. "Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination". About.com Religion & Spirituality. 
  6. ^ The Holy Bible: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:44-49
  7. ^ BAS pg. 168
  8. ^ Blunt, John Henry (1891). Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology. Longmans, Green & Co. p. 670. 
  9. ^ Pruitt, Kenneth (22 November 2013). "Where The Line Is Drawn: Ordination and Sexual Orientation in the UMC". Rethink Bishop. Retrieved 27 April 2014. Sacraments for the UMC include both Baptism and Eucharist. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions count five more, which many Protestants, including the UMC, acknowledge as sacramental: Confession/Absolution, Holy Matrimony, Confirmation/Chrismation, Holy Orders/Ordination, and Anointing/Unction. 
  10. ^ Underwood, Ralph L. (1 October 1992). Pastoral Care and the Means of Grace. Fortress Press. p. 76.  
  11. ^ Morris, F.O. (1882). The Ghost of Wesley [extracts from his writings]. p. 10. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Langford, Andy (1 October 1992). The United Methodist Book of Worship. Abingdon Press.  
  13. ^ F. Belton Joyner, Jr. (1 September 2010). The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook. Abingdon Press. p. 102.  
  14. ^ Schwass, Margot (2005). Last Words: Approaches to Death in New Zealand's Cultures and Faiths. Bridget Williams Books. p. 130.  
  15. ^ "1996 Discipline ¶ 332". General Conference 2000 (The United Methodist Church). 5. All clergy of The United Methodist Church are charged to maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences. 
  16. ^ a b Hickman, Hoyt (2014). "Prayers of Confession". Interpreter Mazine. The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  17. ^ This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion. The United Methodist Church. 1 April 2005. p. 9.  
  18. ^ Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup (6 September 2013). "Must I confess my sins?". The Methodist Church in Singapore. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Davis,  
  20. ^ Syrian Orthodox Resources – Middle Eastern Oriental Orthodox Common Declaration
  21. ^ Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation
  22. ^ (Lutheran Service Book, Divine Service I)
  23. ^ (Lutheran Service Book, Individual Confession and Absolution)
  24. ^ small cat.
  25. ^ Apology of the Augsburg Confession, article 24, paragraph 1. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  26. ^ Ajay D'Souza. "Liberty of Electronic Cigarettes". liberalcatholic.org. 
  •  
  • John N. Wall. A Dictionary for Episcopalians. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000.
  • Christian Cyclopedia Article on Absolution
  • Luther, Martin. Smalcald Articles VIII. Of Confession
  • Melanchthon, Philip. The Augsburg Confession Article XI: Of Confession.
  • Melanchthon, Philip. The Defense of the Augsburg Confession Article VI: Of Confession and Satisfaction
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