Monday, March 31, 2008

"Confession-the now forgotten sacrament in Ireland?"

Once he decided to give up alcohol, Matt Talbot went to confession and then took a three-month pledge. Regular confession became one important aspect of his new life changes to stay sober and grow in love of Jesus Christ.

In light of the Divine Mercy homily given by Irish Cardinal Sean Brady yesterday and reported below, confession appears much less common in Ireland today than it was during Matt's lifetime. One might argue that active Irish alcoholics are even more likely not to go to confession than in the general population of Catholics.

Although it is not the same as confession with absolution by a priest, Alcoholics Anonymous (and other twelve-step programs) has a type of confession, although that word is not used within this program of recovery.

Step 4 asks the alcoholic to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself/herself. This step is recommended to be done with the guidance of a sponsor. Once completed, Step 5 asks the alcoholic to admit to God, to himself/herself, and to another human being the exact nature of his/her wrongs. That other human being could be the sponsor, or anyone familiar with the program, including a priest. The heavy burden lifted can be a life-changing experience that may eventually lead the non-confessing
Catholic alcoholic back to the confessional.

"Confession is now the 'forgotten sacrament -- cardinal"

By John Cooney
Irish Independent News

March 31, 2008

CONFESSION has become the "forgotten sacrament" for many Irish Catholics, according to Cardinal Sean Brady.

Preaching at Knock Shrine in County Mayo yesterday, the Primate of All-Ireland also linked the decline in confession to a wider spiritual crisis in values in an increasingly violent and celebrity-obsessed society.

He called on pilgrims attending a special Divine Mercy Sunday service to pray for a renewal of the traditional practice of confessing personal sins to a priest for absolution, a central feature of Irish Catholicism until a few decades ago.

"When we cease to worship God, we can lose the sense of direction and of purpose in life," the 68-year-old Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh warned.

He observed that the consequences of today's spiritual crisis in society -- or a crisis of values -- were becoming increasingly evident.

"We are becoming a more heartless, less forgiving and a less merciful society," he said.

"You see it in an increasingly aggressive and competitive attitude, in the more frequent resort to violence, in the relentless pursuit of the vulnerabilities of celebrities and public figures, for entertainment rather than for legitimate public interest and in the merciless culture of image compliance, not least among the young."

Cardinal Brady also suggested that this crisis was probably linked to our increasing departure from the practice of the Catholic faith, and to our loss of a sense of our being created and therefore dependent on a Creator other than ourselves.

"The problem cannot be addressed by social or political initiatives alone," he said.

"Our society needs a change of heart about God, about the Church, about living, enjoying and sharing a faith which makes us more loving and human."

Referring to yesterday's Gospel reading, Cardinal Brady quoted Christ's words to his apostles after the Resurrection that 'those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.'

"What incredible words," added the Cardinal. "What consoling words. The mercy of God is completely available to us. It is willingly and generously offered."