Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Invitation to Confession

12/4/2013

As you know, our most common form of Confession in Anglicanism takes place during the regular Sunday liturgy. Some are surprised to learn that the Episcopal Church also offers Confession privately to a priest for those desiring it. In fact, this option is characteristic of the majority of Christianity, including all of the Orthodox family of churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and our own Anglican tradition. Please see pages 446-452 in the Book of Common Prayer for the two rites
that we use.

The difference between us and some other traditions is that we offer private confession, we do not require it. An old saying says it well: “All may, none must, but some should.”

Private confession is good for those times when we need to unburden our hearts and seek God’s forgiveness, in the presence of a fellow human being who is sworn to secrecy, who is serving as an instrument to declare God’s forgiveness and the restoration of right relationship to the broader Church. Advent is a particularly good time to engage in such unburdening. As in our sister churches, what is confessed to a priest is kept in the strictest confidence. The priest also gives counsel and encouragement.

I can tell you that priests really do forget what they hear in Confession, perhaps a little gift from the Spirit. But I feel I need to make another offer to you: if any of you feel you need to make a private confession and would not like to do so in the presence of any of your parish clergy, I would be happy to find another priest for you and set up the arrangements. Just let me know. Otherwise, the parish clergy always stand ready to set up an appointment with you. It is an honor and a privilege.

The Rector


12/4/2013
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