Author Topic: History of Confessional Booths  (Read 3338 times)

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Offline Benjamin the Red

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History of Confessional Booths
« on: April 17, 2013, 09:02:14 PM »
Out of curiosity, when did confessionals come into use in the Roman church?

I'm assuming they're a post-schism development (maybe not), but I can't find out exactly when it began. I found a lot of info about the Vatican II reforms to confession (modern confession booths, face-to-face confession, etc.) but not the early history and development of the confessional booths.

Thanks in advance!
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 09:10:18 PM »
Out of curiosity, when did confessionals come into use in the Roman church?

I'm assuming they're a post-schism development (maybe not), but I can't find out exactly when it began. I found a lot of info about the Vatican II reforms to confession (modern confession booths, face-to-face confession, etc.) but not the early history and development of the confessional booths.

Thanks in advance!

This book by John Henry Hopkins might be of use: http://archive.org/stream/historyofconfess00hopk#page/n13/mode/2up
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 10:48:47 PM »

I have an acquaintance who confesses online to what he believes is a priest.  He's never met the priest personally, nor spoken to him via phone. All online.

Makes me shudder. Who knows who, or how many, are reading what he writes.... And what's worse, this poor man thinks he is getting absolution from his sins.

Breaks my heart.
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 11:17:47 PM »

I have an acquaintance who confesses online to what he believes is a priest.  He's never met the priest personally, nor spoken to him via phone. All online.

Makes me shudder. Who knows who, or how many, are reading what he writes.... And what's worse, this poor man thinks he is getting absolution from his sins.

Breaks my heart.

What on earth does this have to do with the subject?  Unless you are shamefully suggesting the Catholic Church endorses e-confession.
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 12:15:24 AM »

Take it easy....I am not shamefully suggesting anything. 

If you refer to the Roman Catholic Church, then no, that was not my intent. I didn't realize we were posting in a strictly RC sub forum. 

I think it has much to do with this thread, as it seems its a new trend.



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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 12:27:13 AM »

Take it easy....I am not shamefully suggesting anything. 

If you refer to the Roman Catholic Church, then no, that was not my intent. I didn't realize we were posting in a strictly RC sub forum. 

I think it has much to do with this thread, as it seems its a new trend.





Well, I apologize then.  Attacks on Catholics are all too frequent on OC.net, and since this was a thread about confessionals, and in the Catholic sub-forum, I misinterpreted your comments.
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Offline J Michael

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 04:52:53 PM »

I have an acquaintance who confesses online to what he believes is a priest.  He's never met the priest personally, nor spoken to him via phone. All online.

Makes me shudder. Who knows who, or how many, are reading what he writes.... And what's worse, this poor man thinks he is getting absolution from his sins.

Breaks my heart.

Makes me shudder, too!  Afaik, the Catholic Church does not condone such things.  I'd shudder even more---much, much more---if it did.
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2013, 05:08:28 PM »
I actually like the idea of the booth and wouldn't mind if we adopted them in our churches.

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 05:14:46 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.
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Offline LBK

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 07:02:26 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

A confession box might hide one's face, but does nothing to disguise one's voice.  ;)
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Offline biro

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 07:07:58 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

A confession box might hide one's face, but does nothing to disguise one's voice.  ;)

True, but it keeps everyone in the congregation from eavesdropping on yo' bidness.

I wonder how terrifying it must have been to confess in front of the congregation, as in the ancient times. Wonder also if there weren't a few riots, when somebody confessed what thoughts they had about somebody else's spouse...  :o Maybe that is why they went to the booths instead. Also, booths can be a reminder of the prayer closet, as when Jesus advised us to go home and pray.

Just some thoughts. :)
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Offline Romaios

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2013, 07:08:48 PM »
True, but it keeps everyone in the congregation from eavesdropping on yo' bidness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_VNqDZfdnA
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 07:16:30 PM by Romaios »

Offline katherine 2001

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2013, 03:05:28 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

A confession box might hide one's face, but does nothing to disguise one's voice.  ;)

True, but it keeps everyone in the congregation from eavesdropping on yo' bidness.

I wonder how terrifying it must have been to confess in front of the congregation, as in the ancient times. Wonder also if there weren't a few riots, when somebody confessed what thoughts they had about somebody else's spouse...  :o Maybe that is why they went to the booths instead. Also, booths can be a reminder of the prayer closet, as when Jesus advised us to go home and pray.

Just some thoughts. :)

How can the priest hold you accountable for overcoming your passions if he has no idea who is confessing?  Also it is easy to not be overheard if you just keep your voice down.  The RC church is the one that went to the booths--the Orthodox haven't done that.  A spiritual father/priest needs to know his spiritual child--how can he do that if he has no idea who is telling him what?  Part of the healing of confession is getting your sins out into the open before another person (the priest).  Are you really getting it out into the open if you are in a box hidden from the one you are confessing the sins to?  In Alcoholics Anonymous, I don't think the people who attend the meetings get to hide themselves from the other people attending the meeting.  Confession is most effective when it is done in the presence of someone else with no barrier between you.  Our sins affect everyone, and the full affect of our sins becomes more apparent to us when we have to confess it side by side or face to face with another human being.  A priest/spiritual father's advice to the person confessing is not one-size-fits-all.  His advice is influenced by the person he is hearing the confession of.   Ask any parent who has more than one child--they will tell you that each of their children is different and that what works great with one child will be totally the wrong approach with another.  The Orthodox priest is a spiritual doctor.  How can he treat you if he has no idea who you are?  After all, he has to find out which treatments will work best for you to heal your passions.  But if he has no idea who you are because you are hidden from him in a confession booth, how is he supposed to do that? 
 

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2013, 03:13:12 PM »
...so...does anyone know when the confessional booths started? That was my OP...
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Offline Alpo

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2013, 03:20:40 PM »
I actually like the idea of the booth and wouldn't mind if we adopted them in our churches.

+1

Offline Romaios

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2013, 03:27:36 PM »
...so...does anyone know when the confessional booths started? That was my OP...

Quote
Il confessionale è entrato nell'arredo delle chiese in epoca relativamente tarda: fu il card. Carlo Borromeo (1538-84) a dare un impulso fondamentale alla sua diffusione.

In precedenza, infatti, la confessione si faceva di solito nella casa del sacerdote, anche se il rito veniva poi concluso davanti al santo altare. San Carlo dispose di introdurre i confessionali in tutte le parrocchie della diocesi di Milano, e diede anche indicazioni sulla loro forma, in particolare per ciò che concerne la chiusura ai due lati e riguardo alla grata che doveva separare il confessore dal penitente.  Da Milano il confessionale si diffuse rapidamente in tutta Italia.Source


So, they seem to go back to Charles Borromaeus, in 16th century Milan. Before that time, confessions were heard "in the house of the priest, although the rite of absolution would be concluded before the holy altar". 
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 03:47:43 PM by Romaios »

Offline katherine 2001

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2013, 04:48:38 PM »
I actually like the idea of the booth and wouldn't mind if we adopted them in our churches.

Not me.  I want to be healed of my passions, and confessing anonymously isn't going to accomplish that.  It is knowing that you are loved and accepted by your priest/spiritual father even when he knows your worst secrets is a healing presence right there.  If you are confessing anonymously, you are still left with the fear that if your priest knew who you really are and what you are truly capable of doing, he'd want nothing to do with you.  But when you are confessing to God before the priest with no barriers and the priest loves and accepts you in spite of what you have confessed, then there is healing taking place.

Offline biro

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2013, 04:56:18 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

A confession box might hide one's face, but does nothing to disguise one's voice.  ;)

True, but it keeps everyone in the congregation from eavesdropping on yo' bidness.

I wonder how terrifying it must have been to confess in front of the congregation, as in the ancient times. Wonder also if there weren't a few riots, when somebody confessed what thoughts they had about somebody else's spouse...  :o Maybe that is why they went to the booths instead. Also, booths can be a reminder of the prayer closet, as when Jesus advised us to go home and pray.

Just some thoughts. :)

How can the priest hold you accountable for overcoming your passions if he has no idea who is confessing?  Also it is easy to not be overheard if you just keep your voice down.  The RC church is the one that went to the booths--the Orthodox haven't done that.  A spiritual father/priest needs to know his spiritual child--how can he do that if he has no idea who is telling him what?  Part of the healing of confession is getting your sins out into the open before another person (the priest).  Are you really getting it out into the open if you are in a box hidden from the one you are confessing the sins to?  In Alcoholics Anonymous, I don't think the people who attend the meetings get to hide themselves from the other people attending the meeting.  Confession is most effective when it is done in the presence of someone else with no barrier between you.  Our sins affect everyone, and the full affect of our sins becomes more apparent to us when we have to confess it side by side or face to face with another human being.  A priest/spiritual father's advice to the person confessing is not one-size-fits-all.  His advice is influenced by the person he is hearing the confession of.   Ask any parent who has more than one child--they will tell you that each of their children is different and that what works great with one child will be totally the wrong approach with another.  The Orthodox priest is a spiritual doctor.  How can he treat you if he has no idea who you are?  After all, he has to find out which treatments will work best for you to heal your passions.  But if he has no idea who you are because you are hidden from him in a confession booth, how is he supposed to do that?  
 

Why does not looking at you mean he can't ask your name and anything else about you? My priests always knew who I was from my voice. Again, the purpose of the booth was to not allow *other people waiting outside* to hear you. It was supposed to give the priest and the penitent a chance to talk. It's perfectly easy to talk to a priest who is sitting three feet in front of you. You shouldn't think that all the confessionals in the RCC look like the dark traps they put in movies. This isn't 1958 anymore. Also, I don't want everyone else to hear. My confession is between me and God, with the priest there to help me. It is not supposed to be something that John and Joe and Suzie, who haven't done their confessions yet, can overhear so they can punch me on the arm and gossip about me when I come out. There's something to be said for discretion.

I should add- I grew up after after Vatican II, and it was allowable to go to Confession in the priest's office or by appointment. If you did think it was necessary, you could go confess face to face. Usually I did go to the booth, but a few times I asked to speak to the priest at his office. With all respect, I never got any creepy or inadequate sensation from going to Confession whether it was in the booth or at the office. Often I did go to Confession with the same priest on a regular basis, so that I did get to know them. We got to know them the same way you did. By talking to them. Goodness, they're not from outer space.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 05:02:31 PM by biro »
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Offline katherine 2001

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2013, 05:54:04 PM »
Because a huge sign that someone is ready to be healed is when they are ready to confess it to another person.  In the early Church, confession was done before the entire congregation.  The priest now stands in as the witness for the community.  It is part of facing up to what your passions have done to both yourself and to those around you.  It is done in the open for a good reason.  When we are ready to admit things in the open presence of another person then we are ready to be healed.  We are willing to do it God's way instead of wanting to do it our way.  If we are not willing to admit what we have done in the presence of another person, then maybe we are not really willing to give that passion up.  Healing is a journey, and a hard journey at that.  It is about seeing what is in your heart and admitting it to God in the presence of your priest/spiritual father so that you can do something about it.  I believe this is the reason that God doesn't usually just zap us and fix us--we would learn nothing.  A big part of the healing process is to see ourselves as we really are and struggle with those passions and to overcome them, and that takes a long time.  With St. Photini (the woman at the well), Jesus made her admit things to Him face to face.  Have there been times I dreaded going to confession.  Yes, there certainly have been.  But those confessions were some of the best ones where I have left them feeling a huge load off of my back and felt truly blessed. 

Offline biro

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2013, 06:08:17 PM »
Then why is there a 'seal' of the confessional? Why is the priest not allowed to divulge what is said without permission?

If you are still so in favor of confession in front of the entire congregation, *out loud* like you talk to someone outdoors, then why don't you do it that way now?

Why not tell me all your sins, and send the priest home?

I am not trying to change your mind, but I liked the fact that with booths, I wasn't going to get punched in the face by someone who heard me confess that I had unclean coveting thoughts about someone else's spouse. *That* is not a part of the old days to which I want to return.

That said, I will accept the way it's done when I am able to complete the conversion process. I just wanted to say that the RCC at least in theory had good intentions with the booths. If you don't want them, don't use them. I just think it served a reasonable use at a point. If you don't, I understand.
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Offline Bagdadi

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2013, 07:02:32 PM »
Then why is there a 'seal' of the confessional? Why is the priest not allowed to divulge what is said without permission?

If you are still so in favor of confession in front of the entire congregation, *out loud* like you talk to someone outdoors, then why don't you do it that way now?

Why not tell me all your sins, and send the priest home?

I am not trying to change your mind, but I liked the fact that with booths, I wasn't going to get punched in the face by someone who heard me confess that I had unclean coveting thoughts about someone else's spouse. *That* is not a part of the old days to which I want to return.

That said, I will accept the way it's done when I am able to complete the conversion process. I just wanted to say that the RCC at least in theory had good intentions with the booths. If you don't want them, don't use them. I just think it served a reasonable use at a point. If you don't, I understand.

I would agree with you, but the reason why we do not like booths, is that it makes the confession mostly impersonnal. The fact that you are in front of your priest, on your knees, is really a blessing.

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2013, 04:47:26 PM »
Many (most)? RC Churches have traded in the confessional for the "reconciliation room", there is a kneeler with a screen for those who want more anonymity and a chair where you can sit and speak with the priest face to face. Best of both worlds, really.

Maybe kneeling would be better, though for some reason I thought the penitent faced the icon of Christ and not the priest while confessing. Maybe it's different for different Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox traditions?
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2013, 04:59:30 PM »
Many (most)? RC Churches have traded in the confessional for the "reconciliation room", there is a kneeler with a screen for those who want more anonymity and a chair where you can sit and speak with the priest face to face. Best of both worlds, really.

Maybe kneeling would be better, though for some reason I thought the penitent faced the icon of Christ and not the priest while confessing. Maybe it's different for different Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox traditions?
My Serbian Parish does confession where we fact the priest(in front of the icon of Christ, but, still)
my Rocor parish we face the icon of Christ, and the priest is next to us.

Offline theistgal

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2013, 07:04:08 PM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

I would definitely go more often if I didn't have to confess, face-to-face, to the same priest I just had a heated argument with, which resulted in me needing to go to confession.  :D
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 07:04:29 PM by theistgal »
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2013, 08:10:43 PM »
A true confession would be in front of the whole congregation. If everyone did this we would all be better for it.

I have read that originally confessions were made in front of the church , and only later did we make it private. But God wants us to live in the light, and be free from sins, which since we do not in front of all we really are not fully confessing and repenting in my humble opinion.

I once felt that after confession , i did not feel I was really forgiven , and felt compelled to tell my mom and a complete stranger, only then did I feel like I had really confessed.

People tell me that I say I am sorry too much and I have just seen on Yahoo news it was sort of what they said about never to say at work.

And that seems to me one of the biggest reasons the place is a mess, we never admit our mistakes so we are doomed to repeat them.

I must confess that I dont go to confession enough and that I am the worst sinner and do not deserve help from God.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 08:32:25 PM by Sinful Hypocrite »
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Offline theistgal

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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2013, 10:19:00 AM »
A true confession would be in front of the whole congregation. If everyone did this we would all be better for it.

As a confirmed gossip I enthusiastically support this concept of public confessions! My hearing is going bad and this would definitely make my attempts to eavesdrop on the whispers at the altar a whole lot easier.
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2013, 10:51:37 AM »

...I bet we'd give more detailed confessions if we were anonymous.

I would definitely go more often if I didn't have to confess, face-to-face, to the same priest I just had a heated argument with, which resulted in me needing to go to confession.  :D

As a BtzCath, nothing is stopping you from going to your local RC church for confession.  That's what I did (simply out of convenience) when I was still in communion the the RCC.  Same priest every time. 
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2013, 01:44:03 PM »
A true confession would be in front of the whole congregation. If everyone did this we would all be better for it.

As a confirmed gossip I enthusiastically support this concept of public confessions! My hearing is going bad and this would definitely make my attempts to eavesdrop on the whispers at the altar a whole lot easier.

LOL.

Seriously, though, in the early Church, confession was much different. Public confessions were for public sins--serious offenses--murder, heresy, etc.
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Offline Sinful Hypocrite

  • Everyday I am critical of others. Every day I make similar mistakes. Every day I am a hypocrite.
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Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2013, 07:27:46 PM »
Yes , this is a tough area, but it seems to me that it is also where mankind most fails. Because all sins can be forgiven, but we find it hard to forgive others , and this was the issue Jesus made most about forgiveness, acknowledge yours and forgive others their sins

This alone accounts for most problems in society, because even those who are Christians act as if they are better than others . And if even the best of christians cannot be as humble as they should , what do we expect of atheists. But we are supposed to not woorry about what others think about us, only God.


The Lord gathers his sheep, I fear I am a goat. Lord have mercy.

"A Christian is someone who follows and worships a perfectly good God who revealed his true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.“

Offline Sinful Hypocrite

  • Everyday I am critical of others. Every day I make similar mistakes. Every day I am a hypocrite.
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  • Posts: 2,017
  • The Lord helps those who help others
Re: History of Confessional Booths
« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2013, 07:47:03 PM »
Yes , this is a tough area, but it seems to me that it is also where mankind most fails. Because all sins can be forgiven, but we find it hard to forgive others , and this was the issue Jesus made most about forgiveness, acknowledge yours and forgive others their sins

This alone accounts for most problems in society, because even those who are Christians act as if they are better than others . And if even the best of christians cannot be as humble as they should , what do we expect of atheists. But we are supposed to not woorry about what others think about us, only God.

I know it is easier said than done . The majority are unaware  they should be doing it at all.
Most sermons try to get that across every sunday.

Sometimes people get mad at me for ridiculing myself, or saying I am a hypocrite , or saying I am sorry too much.

I just say forgive them for they do not know what they are saying. Just as I say and do sinful things and wish they would forgive me.

There is a constant that runs through most Church fathers, and that is they deny being worthy of our admiration.That they are sinners the same as us, and they think they need us to help them.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 07:53:10 PM by Sinful Hypocrite »
The Lord gathers his sheep, I fear I am a goat. Lord have mercy.

"A Christian is someone who follows and worships a perfectly good God who revealed his true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.“