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Friday, February 24, 2006

What will you be doing Shrove Tuesday?



How about going to Confession? In a sermon preached by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes on the passage John xx. 23, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I at Whitehall, the call to confession and remission of sins sounded forth from that pulpit. Considering the piety of the man from whose mouth these words came, I imagine that the place shook with fear followed by joy and much relief due to mercy. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosever ye retain, they are retained. Andrewes concludes his sermon with the following four principles on confession of sins.

And to that end, even for comfort, I will only point at four things in the inditing of it, all expressing the efficacy of it in more than common manner.

1. The order in this, that Remiseritis standeth first, and Remittuntur second. It is St. Chrysostom 's note, that it beginneth in earth, and that heaven followeth after, So that whereas in prayer and in other parts of religion it is sicut in coelo, sic in terrâ, 'here it is,' sicut in terrâ, sic coelo. A terrâ judicandi principalem authoritatem sumit coelum. Nam judex sedet in teræ: Dominus sequitur servum, et quicquid hic in inferioribus judicærit, hoc Ille in supernis combrobat, saith he.

2. The time in this, that it is Remittuntur in the present tense; there is no delay between, no deferring or holding in suspense, but the absolution pronounced upon earth, Remittuntur, presently, they are remitted; that He saith not, hereafter they shall be, but they are already remitted.

3. The manner, in setting down of the two words. For it so delivered by Christ as if he were content it should be accounted their act and that the Apostles were the agents in it, and Himself but the patient and suffered it to be done. For the Apostles' part is delivered in the active, Remiseritis, and His own in the passive, Remittuntur.

4. The certainty; which in the identity of the word, in not changing the word, but keeping the selfsame in both parts. For Christ hath not thus indited it: Whose sins ye wish or ye pray for; or, Whose sins ye declare to be remitted; but 'Whose sins ye remit;' using no other word in the Apostles' than He useth in his own. And to all these in St. Matthew He addeth His solemn protestation of 'Verily, verily,' or 'Amen, amen,' [102/103] that so it is and shall be. And all to certify us that He fully meaneth with effect to ratify in heaven that is done in earth, to the sure and steadfast comfort of them that shall partake it.

The sermon is online at Project Canterbury.

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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