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Liturgical Press

Making Confession, Hearing Confession

A History of the Cure of Souls

Annemarie S. Kidder

Making Confession, Hearing Confession SEE INSIDE
Making Confession, Hearing Confession

eISBN: 9780814657294, E5729

Details: 360 pgs,
Publication Date: 03/01/2010
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Is confession obsolete? Far from it, Annemarie Kidder has learned. At unexpected times and in unexpected places, we hear the "confession" of a friend or a perfect stranger; at crucial times in our lives we tend to unburden ourselves of matters that trouble our conscience. While some churches offer opportunities for sacramental confession, others provide counseling outside the sacramental framework. Some confessional practices have been secularized, as in psychotherapy and professional counseling; others find expression in evangelistic crusades and Christian 12-step programs. Meanwhile, the scope of "confessors" has widened to include men and women religious and lay spiritual directors. Addressing this broad audience, Kidder

  • reviews the origins and history of confession from biblical times to the early modern era,
  • examines contemporary practices of confession, penance, and spiritual direction that have emerged in the twentieth century, and
  • offers practical considerations for evaluating and improving one's own practice, either as confessor or penitent.

Readers will be grateful for this concise historical overview of confession and Kidder's assurance that, despite its undervalued or misunderstood practice, this "cure of souls" is anything but obsolete.

Annemarie S. Kidder, PhD, is assistant professor at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, Detroit, and a Presbyterian pastor. She is author of Women, Celibacy, and the Church: Toward a Theology of the Single Life; The Power of Solitude; and Etty Hillesum: Essential Writings. Kidder has translated works by Raimon Panikkar, Juergen Becker, Luise Schottroff, and Rainer Maria Rilke. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

eISBN: 9780814657294, E5729

Details: 360 pgs,
Publication Date: 03/01/2010


It is a delight when an all too familiar topic is explored with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. I recommend this book to teachers, preachers, spiritual directors and all who note the ongoing need of people to be cured, and who search for ways to respond to them.

Kidder reflects on what these theological considerations could mean for the 21st-century practice of confession and offers advice on things such as choosing a confessor, what to confess, and how to examine one's conscience. The book will broaden the way you think about acknowledging sin.
Review for Religious

Making Confession, Hearing Confession is a highly spiritual and thoughtful addition to any Christian studies collection.
The Midwest Book Review

In a period of time that questions the place of confession in religious practice, Annemarie S. Kidder offers a thorough and easy-to-read study of confession in the Christian tradition, rooting it in its biblical ground. She gives us helpful knowledge of its theological foundations, good insights into the forms of its development, and practical ways of entering into the exercise or sacrament of confession. Her book is a rich treasure to be valued by all readers, especially coming from the various Christian traditions.
David L. Fleming, SJ
Editor, Review for Religious

This historically well-informed and pastorally sensitive book, written from an ecumenical perspective, will be helpful to both clergy and laity in all the churches. Accessible in its style, it gently challenges us to give confession, no matter what form it might take, the place it deserves in our spiritual lives as Christians.
John W. O'Malley, SJ
Professor of Religion, Georgetown University
Author of The First Jesuits and What Happened at Vatican II

Nothing is more useful for reinvigorating the practices of Christian tradition than a thorough and penetrating knowledge of their history, pursued with ecumenical openness. By recognizing the relationship between personal confession of sins, charisms of spiritual discernment, offices of pastoral care, and public rituals bonding the church in its members, Kidder has achieved a historical tour de force demonstrating how confession-in various forms-is anything but moribund for present and future Christianity. With its combined theological, pastoral, and historical resources, this book has no peer in the English-language literature treating penance, reconciliation, and spiritual direction.
Bruce T. Morrill, SJ
Boston College

Community. Confession. Penitence. Reconciliation. Spiritual formation. Annemarie S. Kidder presents a meticulous historical study of these five strands, which have been interwoven and separated variously through Christian history. She supports the study with substantial theological reflection. Making Confession, Hearing Confession will be a valuable addition to the libraries of theological schools, graduate schools-and the bookshelves of reflective Christians.
Mary Ann Donovan, SC, PhD
Professor of Historical Theology and Spirituality
Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley

Kidder brings to life the monastic process of spiritual fathering and mothering that evolved into the sacrament of penance, illuminating the history of penitential practices with amazing detail. She amply demonstrates how Christian thinkers of all ages, whether Catholic or Protestant, have been concerned with moral conversion and spiritual development. In the process, she assembles a wealth of information on confession as a means of spiritual growth from the Middle Ages to the present, pointing the way to a renewal of the sacrament in the 21st century.
Joseph Martos
Author of The Sacraments: An Interdisciplinary and Interactive Study (Liturgical Press)

This engaging book on the practice of confession in the life of the church brings together historical and spiritual theology in a wonderful way. Annemarie Kidder shows how confession, rooted in the Scriptures and the great tradition of Christian faith through the ages, is still relevant for the life of faith today. Well researched and well written, we have here a welcomed resource for both academic theology and spiritual direction.
Timothy George
Founding Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University
Senior Editor of Christianity Today

I was absolutely stunned on first reading Making Confession, Hearing Confession. Annemarie Kidder integrates the many expressions of the subject that honor the basic human need for disclosure, to respond to the hunger for forgiveness, ranging from confession to spiritual direction during these 2,000 years. She expertly discerns the common thread that keeps all these various ways recognizably coherent in their historical and theological underpinnings and their rootedness in the Gospel. I welcome this as a critical and timely gift for today's church-its congregations and pastors.
Eugene H. Peterson
Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C.
Author of The Message