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Currently, the common practice of confession in the U.S. is...

A person completes an examination of conscious, tells the priest how long it has been since their last confession, then they make their confession, the priest absolves their sins and gives them a penance, usually to say a few Hail Marys or Our Fathers.

A more detailed description is given at this site http://ewtn.com/library/BISHOPS/GUIDEPEN.HTM

In texts written by Catholic Saints, at times they talk about confession. Specifically St. Therese of Liseaux and St. Gemma both mention their confessor in their autobiographies. http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2010/08/similarities-between-st-therese-st.html Implying that they usually confessed to one specific priest, which is not a practice currently taught in U.S catholic schools. St. Francis de Sales also talks about making a general confession in his Introduction to the Devout Life, which he describes as confessing all of ones sins, from their entire life, to one confessor. Then keeping the same confessor, for subsequent confessions. He also describes a very detailed way of making a confession, including stating motives behind sins etc... A detailed description of his writing on everyday confession can be found here... http://www.ccel.org/d/desales/devout_life.iv.xix.html.

Currently, Catholic Schools do not teach to go to one confessor, in fact they do not even mention the name confessor, they use the word priest. Also, Catholic Schools do not teach to state ones motives, or to make a general confession, if switching confesors. It seems to me that based on reading Saints texts that Catholic confession has changed somewhat throughout the centuries. If it has not changed then these saints must be describing optional ways of confessing.

My specific question is ...Has confession changed throughout the centuries, specifically since the 16th century, and if so how?

  • I think there are a few related queations on the site asked elsewhere: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/57072/… but no exact duplicates. This question might be over-broad as it does expect an overview of 2000 years. I think you might be able to dig up an answer to this question by searching this site and peicing together several answers. – Peter Turner Aug 27 '17 at 2:55
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    I can understand that it may be too broad, so I have edited it, to narrow down the time frame. – Virginia Aug 27 '17 at 11:01

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