An illuminating, reassuring explanation of the Catholic Church’s teachings on confession and forgiveness by the bestselling author of The Lamb’s Supper and Hail, Holy Queen.
Jesus told his first clergy, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” In Lord, Have Mercy, Scott Hahn explores the sacrament of reconciliation and shows why it is the key to spiritual growth, particularly in these times of intense anxiety and uncertainty.
Drawing on the history of ancient Israel, the Gospels, the writings of the early Church, and the lives of the saints, Hahn reveals the living, scriptural heart of the Church’s teachings on penance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It is a story that begins with the sin of Adam and Eve, continues in the biographies of Moses, King David, and the Apostle Peter, and reverberates in the lives of believers today. Hahn presents the Catholic and biblical perspective on sin and mercy, elucidating in clear, easily understood language the true import of Jesus’ simple, yet profound promise–“I am the door; if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved (John 10:9).
Like Hahn’s earlier books, Lord, Have Mercy offers thoughtful, authoritative insights into controversial issues and disputed doctrines in a manner that will enlighten lay readers yet is thorough enough for scholars to appreciate. More than just a Bible study, it is a guide for the perplexed, providing practical advice and inspiration that will help readers come to a deeper knowledge of themselves and of Jesus through the sacrament of penance.
Fifty years ago on Saturday afternoons and evenings, long lines of faithful Catholics would snake through the aisles of their churches to the confessional booths. Today most American parishes schedule confessions for perhaps 30 minutes a week, and only a handful of people show up. Hahn would like to revive the ailing practice, which to him is essential to Christian growth. "Each act of penance we offer, each sacramental confession, every little sacrifice conforms us ever more to God's image, makes our lives more resemble the divine life." Hahn's newest book is a defense of the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation (which he always calls by its older names of confession or penance) as well as a source of practical instructions for those unaccustomed to confessing. It is not surprising that his books sell briskly. His writing is clear and lively, laced with anecdotes, analogies and excruciating puns ("a new, whirled order") as he painlessly presents heavy theological topics: sin mortal, venial and original; the divine-human covenant; self-denial and sacrifice; examination of conscience. Piling up scriptures like the evangelical he once was, he speaks with a conviction bordering on triumphalism. His love for the idealized church of the past, however, will exasperate some readers. Sexist terminology is abundant and his theology is unnuanced ("it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on a Sunday"). His adoration of the institutional church ("the Church teaching, as always, strikes the perfect balance") will amaze many of the theologians, historians and other people who read newspapers.