Sunday, March 21, 2010


The subject line read "exomologesis" -- I'd emailed the college chaplain to make an appointment to go to confession. In confirming the time, I noted that I hoped he did not mean me to take the subject line literally. The Church fathers used this term to refer to sacramental penance (I won't subject you to the history and theological development, it's convoluted -- then as now) and it eventually gathered the sense of "public confession of your sins".

On Wednesday, I'm cantoring the parish penance service (other than a failed try in January the first time I've sung since the middle of Advent!). I realized that there is just a wisp of the old practice here. By standing up and walking up to a priest, one makes a very public statement of what we likely prefer to have kept private: I have sinned. Thankfully we have not embraced social media in this context - can you imagine a stream of sins on a screen above the altar? Hopefully you can't!

But there is something about hearing the murmurs of confessions and absolutions that wash through the church during these services that brings home for me the all encompassing sense of God's mercy and forgiveness. Loyola Press has just launched a site called Other6, which left me with a similar feeling. Subscribers can post (anonymously) where they've found God in their lives today, and where they want to find God. On the side is a tag cloud -- like the murmurs in the church, the tags point to what we all need, where we all find God.


  1. Other6 seems like a cool site! Very good idea!

  2. I love the communal strength of a penance service--or even waiting in line when there is something of a group, or others gathering for mass. One of the things I miss these days, though occasionally a TEC person will have posted hours during Holy Week.

    Praying for your appointment and you remind me it's time to make mine....Also of this very week many years ago in grad school--the ultimate Lenten experience. Within a six day period I had two trips to the dentist, my doctoral orals (passed, thankfully), and my sponsee and I hit those long Palm Saturday confession lines for her first time!