In view of the recent review of films dealing with diabolism in one form or another, such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen", which seem to have an extraordinary appeal to a materialistic society, can it be that our materialistic society is seeking some means in which to discharge its collective guilt? In prc-Christian days, pagan societies offered sacrifices, sometimes horrific, in terms of human sacrifice, in order to placate their gods. In the Christian era, which for 1,400 years was entirely Catholic, the Sacrament of Penance, or Confession was introduced, by which the penitent could confess his sins to an ordained priest, receive absolution, a penance and discharge his guilt.
This may sound easy, but only the penitent really knows if he has received absolution, as the conditions required are true repentance and a firm resolve to try not to commit the same sin again. The priest, not being a thought-reader, can only assume that these requirements arc present when he grants absolution, This does not mean to say that if the same sin has been committed that the previous confession is null and void. Man being weak, the obligation is to try to avoid falling into sin. Nevertheless, the means are there for the Christian to cleanse himself and start again. But for the atheistic materialist what is there'! Ile is no better or worse than his Christian counterpart, but he has no means of communication. So his guilt builds up, and he looks for a scapegoat, usually in the form of people not of his way of thinking, but possibly in diabolism, representing a force over which he has no control and therefore cannot be blamed.
Perhaps, significantly, he often ends up with a total mental breakdown, as the pressures he does not recognise as guilt wear him down.
The object of this letter is by no means to diminish the sacramental value of Confession, but to point out that Christ, in his godly and human wisdom, instituted the best "psychotherapy" known to man.
It is sad that the frequency of confession has diminished, not only for its sacramental value, but also for the mental health of all Christians.
(Mrs) B. Verner Sutton, Surrey.