Many of our Christian readers or even readers that understand Christian culture have heard of the notion of the Catholic Confessional. If you are Catholic, you probably know of it well. For those who don’t, let’s examine this notion briefly.
Catholic Confessional – Modern society has lost a sense of sin. Catholic followers of Christ must make an effort to recognize sin in their daily actions, words, and omissions. The Gospels show how important is the forgiveness of our sins. Lives of saints prove that the person who grows in holiness has a stronger sense of sin, sorrow for sins, and a need for the Sacrament of Penance or Confession.
In practice, Catholic priests can help you by “walking” you through the steps to make a good Confession.
- Before going to Confession, you should make a personal review of mortal and venial sins since your last sacramental confession and should express sorrow for sins, hatred for sins, and a firm resolution not to sin again.
- Begin your Confession with the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was _______ weeks (months, years) ago.” Say the sins that you remember. Start with the one(s) that is most difficult to say. (In order to make a good confession, the faithful must confess all mortal sins, according to kind and number.) After confessing all the sins you remember since your last good confession, you may conclude by saying, “I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life.”
- At the end of Confession with contrition. Listen to the words of absolution, the sacramental forgiveness of the Church through the ordained priest. As you listen to the words of forgiveness, you may make the sign of the cross with the priest. If he closes by saying, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good,” answer, “For His mercy endures forever.”
- Do your assigned Penance. Resolve to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. Be truly sorry for your sins. The essential act of Penance is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the loved one has for God and which is reborn with repentance.
Penance in the Catholic Church varies and is somewhat controversial. In general, it involves making a certain number of various prayers but can extend to specific physical acts often heard of during Lent. For example, fasting, putting pebbles in shoes, and taking cold showers – see here.
See here a short video on the Catholic Confessional for more background.
The vast majority of the world’s billions of people practice some kind of religion, ranging from massive worldwide churches to obscure spiritual traditions and local sects. Religion is one way that we humans establish a code of standards or what some would call morality. But it doesn’t have to be religion only. Atheists and other non-religious believers can establish morality via other philosophical methods.
The Catholic Confessional is a rather interesting approach when thinking about dealing with infractions to a moral code – and its subsequent engineering for improved adherence to that moral code. Critiques of the Catholic Confessional might think it is a strange way to social engineer society. But is it?
Do we see similar methods used in our modern non-religious world today?
Using the Catholic Confessional as a social engineering model and the new technology tools we have today, what steps have we seen to accomplish these same objectives? Consider the following:
- People confess their lives online every day via social media platforms. Posting pictures and stories of every aspect of their lives, good and bad. Often, these postings are of their various indiscretions, wacky beliefs, and worst yet, harmful attitudes and threats toward others.
- Then on many of these same online social media platforms, we crowdsource the discernment of one’s sins by allowing others to comment and berate those that violate some believed code of ethics via online bullying and doxing.
- The code of ethics, or often called terms of service, is determined by a monopoly of a few social media platforms. The CEOs of these big tech companies can be considered new-age Popes. In the modern world, productivity is key – no need for an army of priests where artificial intelligence can be far more efficient and effective.
The Catholic Confessional appears to be eerily similar to the antics of many of our social media platforms like Twitter, Google, and what we see at the Church of Facebook. Who needs the Catholic Confessional when we have Facebook.
The Church of Facebook even implements a set of Penances to get society to comply with its moral code. Perhaps “pebbles in shoes” is problematic, but what online Penance could they devise if infractions occur?
- Warning messages and click blocks.
- Three, Seven, or even thirty-day bans.
- If you commit the unpardonable sin, you will be excommunicated from the Church of Facebook, and your account will be permanently suspended.
If next time you find yourself under the thumb of Facebook and you really care – merely chant, “Father forgive me, for I have sinned. I accept my Penance from the ordained artificial intelligence algorithms of Pope Zuckerberg and will sin no more.”
See more in this series of Sunday Thoughts – click here.