1 March 2022

ALL your sins!! Shrove Tuesay

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath lefte power to his Churche to absolue all sinners, which truely repent and beleue in hym: of his great mercy forgeue thee thyne offences: and by his autoritie committed to me, I absolue thee from all thy synnes, in the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen.

Such is the form of Absolution in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, and in its subsequent English recensions. S John Henry Newman, naughty man, in his Apologia pro Vita Sua, used it ad hominem to taunt Evangelical critics of  'Auricular Confession'.

(When the Church of Ireland was disestablished, it seized the opportunity to discontinue this form. It wished also to eliminate from the formula of priestly ordination "Whose sins thou dost retain" etc.:  but the lawyers explained that this omission might give rise to questions in law about whether Irish ordinations would be considered valid in the Church of England. ... BTW ... Rumour has it that the post-Conciliar Roman Pontifical has indeed scratched out that formula ... surely not ... whatever would Leo XIII, author of Apostolicae curae, have said!! Not to mention dear Cardinal Vaughan!)

What strikes you as unusual about the 1549 wording of the Absolution?


The priest absolves the penitent from all his or her sins. Roman forms, both old and new, tend not to specify all. But all goes back to the pre-Reformation English rites, such as that of Sarum. 

I think quite a number of ex-Anglicans have noticed the less explicitly complete and generous wording of the Roman forms! Strange that PF never spotted it, what with Mercy and all that stuff a few years ago.

Personally, I do rather like the (Pre-Bugnini) Roman form. I positively wallow in that lovely rounded phrase in quantum possum et tu indiges. 

And the remission of censures, etc.. The delicious ancient legalism of Roman Christianity (vide Christine Mohrmann) shines very nicely through.

Anyway ... I think the Ordinariates should resume the historic Anglican, and ancient English Catholic, form. Or, if they don't, ex-Anglican confessors could emphatically insert the word ALL


Thomas said...

That 'all' certainly sounds very comforting. I was taught to add a clause onto my acts of contrition in the confessiional: '... for these and any other sins I may have forgotten, I humbly beg pardon and absolution', which seems to be a kind of catch-all from the other side. Although the traditional Roman formula you highlight brings a salutory note of caution against presumption. In the inspired words of St. Joan of Arc, when asked whether she thought she was in a state of grace (a trick question seeking to convict her of either heresy or witchcraft): 'If I am, may God preserve me so. If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.' (cited in the Catechism of The Catholic Church par. 2005)

Colin Spinks said...

I've just been reading a book on the composer Georg Frederik Handel. At the first performance of his Messiah in Dublin, the performance of the aria "He was despised" by the contralto Susanna Cibber apparently moved an Irish Clergyman to leap to his feet and proclaim: "For this, be all thy sins forgiven thee".

Jon said...

I like the idea. A remedy to many a scrupulous heart.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

You are complex character, dear Fr Hunwicke. Would it not be that a priest of his own volition changing the words of the form of a Sacrament would encounter your censure?
That he might, indeed, bring about invalidity? Yet you encourage priests, however worthy the intention, to change the words of absolution on their own initiative. A grave matter indeed!

Anonymous said...

you surprised me with your acceptance of Cardinal Vaughan.
May I ask you if you include his committee/ of four who inquired into the validity of Anglican orders

Albertus said...

The "formula brevissima" for giving absolution, accirding to the appendux in "Breviarium Romanum" is: "Ego te absolvo ab omnibus censuris et peccatis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen." So, to add the word "omnibus" to the longer formula would not, could not invalidate it.

Rubricarius said...

In the S Pius V missal (and breviary) the words omnibus and omnium are in the Misereatur and Indulgentiam respectively. They do not appear in the Clementine and later editions except when used by the pope.

GOR said...

The formula I recall, pre-Vat II, did include ‘all’ as in:

Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat, et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo, ab omnibus peccatis (‘et censuris’ – only if the penitent is a priest) in nomine Patris, etc.

Albertus said...

Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat, et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo, ab omni vinculo excommunicationis, interdicti (et suspensionis - si poenitens sacerdos est), in quantum possum et tu indiges, deinde ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen. This is the formula of absolution regularly used in private confession: i use this form exclusively. Only the firma brevissima, used in emergency, has the word omnibus.