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lated from the original, the first formulary being taken by him from the old Ordo Romanus, as follows:
I confess to thee, O Lord of heaven and earth, and to thee, O good and most benignant Jesus, together with the Holy Ghost, before thy holy angels and before thy saints, before this altar and thy priest, that I have been conceived in sins, and born in sins, and brought up in sins, and have been conversant with sins from my baptism to the present hour. I confess, also, that I have sinned exceedingly in pride, in vain-glory, by self-exaltation in looks, in vesture, and in all my actions, in envy, in hatred, in covetousness of honor as well as money, in anger, in sloth, in gluttony, in sodomitish licentiousness, in sacrilege, &c. A similar form appears in the work of Goldastus, as in use among the ancient Germans."—(App., Note 118.)
• The confession of S. Isidore, the bishop of Hispala, is also extant, recorded by Redemtus, one of his clergy, when, at the approach of death, he confessed openly in the house of S. Vincent; and this also is only general, expressing nothing in particular."-(App. Note 119.)
“ There is likewise extant the confession of Rotbert, bishop, sent in writing, just before his death, to the bishops who were at the siege of Angers with the Emperor Charles the Bald ; in which, also, he confesses no special crime, but only professes himself to be an abominable and execrable sinner.” -(App., Note 120.)
• In a very ancient manuscript of the Library at Corbie, the title of which is Ordo Orationum, appears the confession of S. Fulgentius,” which is subjoined at length, viz. : “ Here begins the Confession of S. Fulgentius, Bishop, for the
work of Penitence : I confess to thee, O Lord, Father of heaven and earth, before this thy holy altar, and the relics of this place, and before this thy priest, all my sins, and all things whatsoever the compassion of God brings to mind of shameful thoughts, or idle and unclean words, and all that I have done against His commandment. I confess, likewise, all the vices of my heart and body, sacrilege, envyings, detractions, perjuries, thefts, evil-speakings, reproaches, foul speeches, scurrilities, lies, mockings, insults, deceits, murmurings, flatteries, moroseness, vigils useless and despicable before God, most grievous carnal lusts; and that I have set forth the precepts of God for the sake of the pampering and gratification of my own body, and have trangressed through pride and self-exaltation, and negligence and sloth. I have perpetrated unclean purposes, and have committed fornications, pollutions, licentiousness, drunkenness, revelings, and homicides, openly and secretly, in body and in mind. To my father and my mother, my brothers and sisters, my uncles, aunts and cousins, or all other my kindred and relations, I have not exhibited the obedience of honor according to the commandment and will of God. To the carnal old man, and to those who were friends for evil more than for good, I have listened and been submissive. I have not loved all Christians as God hath commanded. I have offered and displayed at all times to others, not a good but an evil lesson and example. I have not observed nor kept worthily and acceptably unto God the Sundays and Saints' days; and I have not announced them to the ignorant, but I have defiled myself in them by intemperance and wantonness, and have incited others to the same. Robbery and theft I have hidden and partaken, and have consented to those who concealed them. I have not visited those who were sick and in prison. I have not covered the naked. I have not received strangers for the sake of God, nor washed their feet. I have not filled the hungry. I have not consoled the weeping and the sorrowful; those who were in open discord, and indeed all Christians, I have incited to anger rather than to peace. I confess that I have sinned much in seeing, in hearing, in tasting, in smelling, and in feeling; and I have conceived and perpetrated many evil things. I confess that in the holy Church I have thought much evil, and have spoken indiscreetly and proudly. In the holy Church I have stood, I have sat, I have kissed, I have beheld, I have covered, I have lain, I have consented. The holy vessels and every holy service, I have touched when polluted. I have been defiled with unlawful embraces. And upon the holy altar, and in the consecrated Church, and on the blessed cross, and upon the holy relics, I have sworn; and I have uttered perjured words and lies, and have committed perjury. I confess, also, that to thee, the Omnipotent God, and to all the saints, and to all good men, I have been disobedient, and within and without I have been unfaithful and offensive; contentious, hateful, envious, wrathful, avaricious, covetous, rapacious, unbelieving, unmerciful. And I have offered my prayer in the sight of God negligently, by reason of vain thoughts and a hard heart. The body and blood of the Lord I have received knowingly and unworthily, with my heart and body polluted, without confession and penitence. I have not loved the Bishops, the worthy Abbots, the Monks, the Canons, and all the Clergy of the Church of God. I have not regarded them with affection, nor rendered them the obedience of honor, as God hath commanded. By carnal desires, and by evil thoughts, and by an evil will, and by evil works, I have contaminated, disgraced, and destroyed myself, and in will have consented to the devil. On account of all these and other things innumerable, which, by reason of the multitude of my sins, crimes, and iniquities, I am not able to remember; and because, against the will of God and of all the Saints, and against the Christian law, I have done and perpetrated them with a hard heart, whether ignorantly or knowingly, whether in evil thought, or in word, or in deed, or even with the industry and delight of sin, whether by day or by night, in hours or in moments, whether waking or sleeping, or from whatsoever cause I may have thought or willed to do, or actually perpetrated them against the will of God; therefore, this day I confess them all to thee, the God and Lord of heaven and earth, before thine altar, with a pure and true confession, and with a will to amend, and that these sins may thenceforward be remitted, that thou, O Almighty God, who hast said, “I do not desire the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live,' mayest have mercy, and spare, and forgive, and blot out all my sins, crimes, transgressions, and iniquities, past, present, and to come, and mayest lead me to life everlasting : Amen. I beseech thee, O priest of God, that thou wilt be a witness to me concerning all these in the day of judgment; that my enemy may not rejoice over me; and vouchsafe to implore for me the mercy of God, that He may give me the favor of his pardon, and the remission of all my sins."
“The Response of the Priest. May the Omnipotent God have mercy on thee, and give thee a true pardon of thy sins, and avenge thee of all thy invisible enemies. May God give thee counsel in this life, and lead thee happily to life eternal.”
. Thus far," continues the learned Hugo Menard, “is the confession of S. Fulgentius, Bishop..... In the manuscript Codex of the Monastery of S. Remigius, situated at Rheims, there is another similar confession; but as the same form is in the Ordo Romanus, from which it differs in a very few words, it does not seem worth while to insert it here." The author, however, has set down a different form for the “ Response of the Priest,” as follows:
May the Omnipotent God have mercy upon thee, and pardon all thy sins, deliver thee from every evil work, preserve thee in every good work, and lead thee, through the intercession of all the saints, to glory everlasting. Amen.”—(App., Note 121.)
From these specimens, it would seem that the private confessions customary in the sixth century and afterward were according to a minute and comprehensive form, embracing every imaginable sin, and yet avoiding any specification from which the penitent could be charged with particular acts of iniquity. The Apostle James had laid down the principle (ch. ii., 10), that “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all.” And perhaps it was on this ground that the priests of that age arranged these forms of confession, since it is difficult to suppose
Christian man could be conscious to himself of all the sins enumerated by the eminent Bishop Fulgentius. But be this as it may, we see here several important points, in which the practice of that period differed evidently from the subsequent Romish system. For, 1st. Private confession was still voluntary, instead of being required as a regular prerequisite for the administration of the Eucharist. 2d. It was not under the seal of secrecy. 3d. It did not specify any particular sins. 4th. It was not addressed to any being but the Triune God, although it was delivered before the altar, the relics, the saints, and the priest. 5th. Absolution was sought directly from the Almighty. 6th. The priest was not asked to absolve, but to be a witness to the penitent's confession at the day of judgment, and to afford him the benefit of his prayers.
7th. The act of the priest, accordingly, was confined to the language of solemn prayer, without the imposition of hands, but the prayer was expressed in the optative form: “May the Omnipotent God have mercy upon thee, and give thee remission of all thy sins,” &c. It is true that this prayer differs little from those which were used in absolution. But we shall see, by later testimony, that absolution was accompanied by the imposition of hands, at least so far down as the ninth century.
It is plain, therefore, that the system was in a transition state, greatly changed from the primitive strictness and simplicity, while yet it was far from the mark which it afterward attained. This will be much more manifest, however, when I come to examine the remainder of the evidence furnished by our learned Benedictine, to which I shall proceed in the following chapter.
OTHER FORMS. TESTIMONY OF ST.
PROCEEDING with the evidence of the learned Benedictine, Hugo Menard, we find another interesting document in relation to our subject, which brings the practice of the Church down to the ninth century. It is taken from the Roman Penitentiary, as it was adopted and probably modified by the eminent Halitgarius, A.D. 816. And it is valuable not only as a monument of the rules enjoined at that time, but also as a complete proof that the confessional, in its present form, was even then altogether unknown in Christendom,