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Has sacramental reconciliation disappeared from the horizon of Catholic practice? Has confession been extinguished from the practice of faith? In A Time for Embracing Julia Upton addresses these questions in an in-depth study to help people understand and appreciate the sacrament of reconciliation. Since the early 1970s many articles about the declining number of people going to confession have appeared in religious journals across the United States. An article in U.S. Catholic points to the fact that rather than taking their guilt to confession, people are dealing with it head on. If they damage a relationship, they work to restore it. While Upton finds this direct approach encouraging, she states that sometimes damages occur in relationships that cannot be repaired, regardless of how hard we try. For these situations we need to turn to the sacrament of reconciliation. But, she states, the same decline in reconciliation that has been the subject of numerous articles in the past, also causes concern for the future of this sacrament. In A Time for Embracing Upton refers to the sacrament of reconciliation as an "endangered species." She offers support for her conclusion by analyzing data from Study of Penance. Published by the Committee for Pastoral Research and Practices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, this study surveyed bishops, priests, and lay people regarding their personal thoughts on the practice of sacramental reconciliation in the United States. Drawing on her knowledge from thirty years of study and the conclusions of the committee's survey, Upton states that the sacrament is endangered. She also explains that the cause is not that people do not go to confession, but that the sacrament is not understood or celebrated well. Since the sacrament is not understood, requiring everyone to attend confession would be an ineffective solution to the decline in reconciliation. Instead Upton suggests a holistic approach. This approach would involve studying data from anthropology, psychology, and sociology, then integrating that with data from Scripture, history, and theology. To further explain her holistic approach and the need for it, Upton offers a study of the past, present, and future of sacramental reconciliation in A Time for Embracing. In chapter one, "Reconciliation at the Crossroads," Upton takes a close look at the magnitude of the problem and identifies some of its causes. In chapter two, "Reconciliation in American So
Has sacramental reconciliation disappeared from the horizon of Catholic practice? Has "confession" been extinguished from your practice of the faith? Have you noticed a marked change in the way in which you have become reconciled to God and the Church community over the course of time? These questions and others are addressed in Julia Upton's study of sacramental reconciliation. Her concern is that the sacrament of reconciliation - through which the darkness of sin is illumined by the healing light of Christ's forgiveness - is an endangered species. In sacramental reconciliation the sinner experiences the tender, healing, welcoming embrace of God, which is what Upton regards as endangered. Upton's is a holistic approach to sacramental reconciliation that involves studying data from anthropology, psychology, and sociology, and integrating that with data from Scripture, history, and theology.
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