Early Church Fathers on Confession
"In church confess your sins, and do not come to your prayer with a guilt
conscience. Such is the Way of Life...On the Lord's own day, assemble
in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins,
so that your sacrifice may be pure." Didache, 4:14,14:1 (c. A.D. 90).
"Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to
soberness[of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise
repentance towards God. It is well to reverence both God and the
bishop." Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyraeans, 9 (c. A.D. 110).
"Father who knowest the hearts of all grant upon this Thy servant whom
Thou hast chosen for the episcopate to feed Thy holy flock and serve as
Thine high priest, that he may minister blamelessly by night and day,
that he may unceasingly behold and appropriate Thy countenance and
offer to Thee the gifts of Thy holy Church. And that by the high
priestly Spirit he may have authority to forgive sins..." Hippolytus,
Apostolic Tradition, 3 (A.D. 215).
Maximus--that is, the bishop of bishops--issues an edict: 'I remit, to
such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both
of adultery and of fornication.'" Tertullian, Modesty, 1 (A.D. 220).
"In addition to these there is also a seventh, albeit hard and
laborious: the remission of sins through penance...when he does not
shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord." Origen,
Homilies on Leviticus, 2:4 (A.D. 248).
"It is necessary to
confess our sins to those whom the dispensation of God's mysteries is
entrusted." Basil, Rule Briefly Treated, 288 (A.D. 374).
"All mortal sins are to be submitted to the keys of the Church and all
can be forgiven; but recourse to these keys is the only, the necessary,
and the certain way to forgiveness. Unless those who are guilty of
grievous sin have recourse to the power of the keys, they cannot hope
for eternal salvation. Open your lips, them, and confess your sins to
the priest. Confession alone is the true gate to Heaven." Augustine,
Christian Combat (A.D. 397).
"Just as in the Old Testament
the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament
the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or
guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various
kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed." Jerome,
Commentary on Matthew, 3:16,19 (A.D. 398).
"Franciscan Guy," from myspace.
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