From a reader…
I now happen to live 10 minutes’ walk from the local FSSPX chapel here in London.
I don’t intend to make it my customary place for Mass (tempting as that is) unless and until a regularisation occurs – and I’m not holding my breath.
I am however aware that going to confession with them remains valid for me and any other Catholic, following Pope Francis’ letter to that effect as a continuation of the permission granted for the Year of Mercy. There are times when it would be very handy for me.
My question is: is there anything different about the rite as celebrated by traditional priests versus, say, going to the Oratory or any other “sound” church? Any customary introductory prayer or act of contrition?
All best and hope to see you again in the UK before too long. [Me too!] Corpus Christi Maiden Lane now has a *spectacular* ad orientem sanctuary following the restoration work. http://www.corpuschristimaidenlane.org.uk/restoration/
First, I have been following the restoration work at the Maiden Lane church. The parish priest includes me in his email updates. He was very good to me during my last trip to London, which seems like a terrible long time ago. I celebrated Mass there. The work is coming along very well.
Since I don’t know how you have usually made your confession, I can’t say if there will be anything different. However, I am sure that the SSPXers are used to making the confession in the old fashioned, standard, Anglophone way. That is, request for a blessing as you begin, statement of time since last confession, perhaps statement of state of life, confession of mortal sins in kind and number, a clear statement of sorrow and that you are finished. Within that structure there are no codified elements. Some people say, “For these and all the sins I cannot now remember, I ask a penance and absolution.” Others might say, “My Jesus, mercy!” However, make it clear that you are done. Don’t just trickle off into ambiguous silence.
As far as the Act of Contrition is concerned, again, I suspect that an SSPX confessor would not freak out if a more modern act of contrition were used. However, I always recommend the use of an old-fashioned Act of Contrition which has all the elements you need in sound language and order.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.
That has it all. Or, with variations,
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
Of course you will hear from SSPX priests the traditional form of absolution. It is is a bit more involved, because it also contains the form for the lifting of censures. The priest will say (in Latin):
May almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and lead you to everlasting life. [R.: Amen.]
Then he raises the right hand toward you, saying (in Latin):
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, absolution, + and remission of your sins. [R.: Amen.]
Then he says the form about censures you might have incurred and, after that, absolves your sins, saying (in Latin):
May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you. And I by His authority release you from every bond of excommunication, ([for clerics] suspension) and interdict, in so far as I am empowered and you have need. And now I absolve you from your sins; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. [R.: Amen].
After giving you absolution the priest will probably add, though it isn’t strictly necessary, in English:
May the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints, whatever good you have done, and whatever evil you have endured, achieve for you the forgiveness of your sins, an increase of grace and the reward to eternal life. Amen.
A beautiful prayer.
The older form is logical and orderly. The logical procedure is echoed in the absolution at the beginning of the traditional Mass after the Confiteor. The different ways of saying “forgive” (Indulgéntiam, ? absolutionem et remissiónem…), imply logical phases of reconciliation. But I digress.
That’s about it, except for an important final element: Thank the priest before you go.
Everyone: Keep in mind my
GO TO CONFESSION!