Saturday, September 22, 2012

1. How to Confess Your Sins -- Traditional Latin Rite (Extraordinary Form)


This information may help if you want to confess your sins to a priest who follows the Traditional Latin rite (Extraordinary Form, or EF), and you are used to confessing sins to a priest at a Novus Ordo (NO) parish. Confession of sins has always been in the local language (the vernacular). And the form of the sacrament is the same.

The terminology is different. The Sacrament of Penance in the EF is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the NO.

A common term for receiving the sacrament is "going to confession."

The major difference with an EF confession is that the initial blessing and the closing prayer will usually be in Latin.

For another thing, NO priests often omit the step of asking the penitent to say the Act of Contrition after the person finishes telling the priest his sins. But in the EF form, the Act of Contrition is always said by the penitent, either before or during absolution.

If the church has a confessional, that might be strange to you if you are used to going to confession sitting in a chair facing the priest. In a confessional like the one in the image under this blog's title, the priest sits behind a door in the middle while penitents kneel facing him on the side in a compartment that is behind either a door or a heavy curtain. A privacy screen separates the priest and the penitent so they can't see each other.

In all the churches I've attended lately that use confessionals, only one side of the confessional is used. But if two sides are used, when the priest is hearing a confession on one side, he keeps a sliding panel closed behind the privacy screen on the other side. The privacy panel ensures that if another penitent is waiting, the one that is waiting won't be able to hear the other one's confession.

Sometimes priests use a sort of mini-confessional with the priest sitting behind a screen and the penitent kneeling on a kneeler. The photo below shows an example of the kind of mini-confessional I'm talking about.

Fr. Joseph Marie Wolfe hears confessions at an EWTN family celebration in San Francisco

There may be a line for confessions. If a confessional is being used, a light is lit when the priest is present. Lights are sometimes lit to indicate whether the penitents' sides are occupied. When it is your turn, open the door or the curtain, close it behind you, and kneel down.

If you haven't been for a long time, you might consider calling the priest ahead of time and telling him you would like  an appointment for confession.

Another helpful practice is to make a General Confession from time to time. You can either write out the sins of your life and tell them to the priest or confess from memory.  Since  a general confession is going to take longer than a regular confession, this is another case where you might want to call for an appointment.

For how to confess and receive absolution, go to the next post: 2: How to Confess Your Sins - Traditional Latin Rite

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