Saturday, 21 May 2016

"Father, forgive me!"

When Tommaltach has challenged Gratillonius, his Father in Mithras, to mortal combat, he says:

"Father, forgive me!'"
-Poul and Karen Anderson, Dahut, Chapter XI, section 6, p. 260,

- exactly like a modern-day Catholic beginning to confess to a priest! What is the correct response to Tom's request?

"Almost, Gratillonius did. But no, he thought, that would be unwise. Here was an opponent young, skilled, vigorous. Let him at least remain shaken." (ibid.)

Gratillonius thinks like the skilled military tactician that in fact he is but how should he respond as a Father? In Catholicism, the penitent should intend not to repeat his sin but Tom has not yet fought Gratillonius and still fully intends to do so. He cannot be absolved for this.

If anyone confesses murder to a priest, then the priest cannot inform the police but should, I think, withhold absolution until the penitent has turned himself in. During the Irish War of Independence, some men received absolution after confessing that they had killed a man but adding that they believed they had done it for the good of their country - and I think that, during the ensuing Civil War, a Republican who had killed a Free Stater did not receive the same favorable response as one who, earlier, had killed a Brit. Agatha Christie's Poirot commits the perfect murder and tearfully asks God to forgive him but cannot do it through a priest. He is on his own.

Manse Everard of the Time Patrol, when asked:

"'Have I atoned?'"
-Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 102,

- replies:

"'You have'...and wondered how much absolution it lay in his power to give." (ibid.)

The answer is that Everard has no power of absolution but that, in the absence of a priest, he should counsel Harpagus to confess directly to God.

It is too easy to blog. Every sentence or paragraph cries out for comment.

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