Friday, April 5, 2019
The word “absolution” means a formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment.
In the Anglican Church, formal, sacramental absolution is given to penitents in the sacrament of penance known as the Reconciliation of a Pentitent, often called “private confession.”
General absolution is called for after the confessions of the community as found in our liturgies. A priest, pronounces absolution and usually makes the sign of the cross over the congregation, an act then mirrored by the congregants.
“Almighty God have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Book of Alternative Services p. 191) The Ordination of a Priest (p. 646) clarifies the priest’s role, including the following exhortation, “ You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners…” This does not presume that the clergy are not in need of forgiveness as well and in fact, at the end of the sacrament of Reconciliation the priest adds, “Go in peace, and pray for me a sinner.”!
It is not the words themselves that lead us to escape guilt or shame and to ‘turn again to Christ’. It is the Cross itself that is the ultimate expression of forgiveness. Forgiveness, grace and love in holy unrestraint, offering us freedom and healing and a new lease, on life.
If we don’t feel forgiven, it might be that we need to revisit the Garden of Gethsemane, to stand at the foot of the Cross.
To reflect on this: He died for me?