Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Confess

We watched I Confess again last week.

This time I was struck by two things I hadn't noticed before. (Warning: spoilers follow.)

First, everybody knew that the seal of the confessional was not to be violated. The murderer relied on the fact that the priest could not and would not tell. The murderer's wife wasn't completely sure that the priest would keep his mouth shut, but with the reminder about the seal of the confessional, she was pretty sure he would abide by it. The detective pressed the priest for information, but he did not know that he was asking Father Logan to reveal what he'd heard in confession. The priest's former girlfriend and the blackmailer both know that the priest will not tell about sins he knows of. Today we have pastors telling other pastors that there are times when they must reveal what they've heard in confession. But in years past, people had a better sense that the ordination vow, "Do you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you?" actually meant never.

Second, what brought about Alma's confession? She went through the movie worried that her husband's crime would come to light. She sat through the priest's trial without a word, watching with increased discomfort as her husband lied. But still she bore her own guilt. It was Father Logan's sacrifice and love which finally moved her to confess. It wasn't guilt. It wasn't the law. It wasn't threats that moved her. Her heart was changed as she was the recipient of sacrificial love, as she saw this man silently and patiently bear their sin.

Wow! Compare Hitchcock's theology to much of what we run across today.

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