Chesterton in support of Dolan’s call for renewal of confession

As the USCCB meets, I offer this from G. K. Chesterton’s Autobiography (UK link HERE):

When people ask me, or indeed anybody else, “Why did you join the Church of Rome?” the first essential answer, if it is partly an elliptical answer, is, “To get rid of my sins.” For there is no other religious system that does really profess to get rid of people’s sins. It is confirmed by the logic, which to many seems startling, by which the Church deduces that sin confessed and adequately repented is actually abolished; and that the sinner does really begin again as if he had never sinned.

And this brought me sharply back to those visions or fancies with which I have dealt in the chapter about childhood. I spoke there of the indescribable and indestructible certitude in the soul, that those first years of innocence were the beginning of something worthy, perhaps more worthy than any of the things that actually followed them: I spoke of the strange daylight, which was something more than the light of common day, that still seems in my memory to shine on those steep roads down from Campden Hill, from which one could see the Crystal Palace from afar.

Well, when a Catholic comes from Confession, he does truly, by definition, step out again into that dawn of his own beginning and look with new eyes across the world to a Crystal Palace that is really of crystal. He believes that in that dim corner, and in that brief ritual, God has really remade him in His own image. He is now a new experiment of the Creator. He is as much a new experiment as he was when he was really only five years old. He stands, as I said, in the white light at the worthy beginning of the life of a man. The accumulations of time can no longer terrify. He may be grey and gouty; but he is only five minutes old.

Listen to Card. Dolan’s address to the USCCB HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. The Sicilian Woman says:

    People, go to confession. If felt so good to be rid of so much that I almost bounced out of the confessional last weekend. If you are hesitant and/or terrified of going, trust me, I understand. More than once as I sat there, waiting, I was trying to rationalize a reason to leave. Just do it! Even should you be so unfortunate to have a priest who treats you and the sacrament as a burden, don’t delay, do it anyway, and try to find a priest who cares. (And pray for the ones who don’t.)

  2. Patti Day says:

    Chesterton seems to be everywhere these days. My mother told me that my Great Grandfather, who died when I was two years old, loved Chesterton and during his last years he was part of a group which sometimes met at my GG’s house to discuss Chesterton’s books. I just purchased my first of his books, St. Thomas Aquinas, on kindle. I’m hoping to find what my GG found so appealing.

  3. Sissy says:

    Patti Day, I really enjoyed this recent article by the President of the American Chesterton Society:

  4. APX says:

    @Fr. Z
    For there is no other religious system that does really profess to get rid of people’s sins. […] [T]he Church deduces that sin confessed and adequately repented is actually abolished;
    It’s funny you mention this. Prior to my reversion, when I was on the brink of deciding whether or not to covert to Mormonism, there was one thing which kept me from doing it. While I was one of those non-practicing Catholics who came up with my own crazy theology, I still had a lot of all that Catholic stuff I had been taught crammed in some small section of my brain. As I was learning more about Mormonism, what was required of me in order to convert and that I would have to make a “confession” to the bishop of all my past serious sins, I started getting curious about what exactly this “confession” was an if it was the same as Catholic confession. The more I researched, I discovered that the sins you confess and supposedly forgiven of by God are actually kept on file should you sin again, and can be used against you to determine whether or not you can receive a Temple recommend, or for punitive action such as a excommunication hearing. After I read that my brain started getting flooded with those memories from when I was in grade 2 being taught about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and how when we receive absolution our sins are completely gone, etc. and I determined that “something wasn’t right” with the Mormons and opted to avoid converting over.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    To a portion of the 20% of Catholics who show up at mass weekly, this will be a very good reminder to take literally and use. The other 80% may not view it that way or take the Cardinal up on his offer. But this is where we must begin anyway. It’s all about the New Evangelization within the Church.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    Patti Day,

    You can have all of Chesterton’s works on your Kindle for free from Project Gutenberg. This ite is supposed to be for Kindle format. Just type in, “Chesterton,” into the search box. You can select the Kindle format fom the list of formats for each book.

    The Chicken

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oops. Forgot to post the link:

  8. Catholictothecore says:

    The one true Church IS the Roman Catholic Church, the Universal Church.

    Fr. Z, it’s great to see Cardinal Dolan’s call for renewal of confession. Once this meeting is over, we need him and all the bishops to implement it, set up a plan, filter it down to the dioceses, but do something. APX had a good link in one of your posts yesterday regarding examination of conscience. Include this in the Sunday Bulletins AND include Chesterton’s views above. Increase the confession times. Most parishes have visiting priests to hear confessions during Easter and Christmas. Maybe we should have this setup more frequently rather than twice a year. Every month? Every quarter? Priests must be accessible to their flock to administer the sacraments.

    APX, I’m glad you reverted and didn’t join the Mormons. Keep up the good work for meatless Fridays.

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