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 Confession, Penance and Absolution

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Join date : 2012-07-07
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PostSubject: Confession, Penance and Absolution   Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:41 am

Confession, Penance and Absolution

by Jeanpierre

Penance and Absolution

"Only if you let a dark past destroy your future, will it truly succeed in being a dark past."
-- Jenn Nayver, Former cleric of Southshore.

"We do not find teachers in life among those locked in their towers and great halls, but among those who lived through trials, errors and showed the bravery to carry through both."
-- Vear Baileas, Light Preacher and storyteller in Goldshire.

"Our history is a lesson for the future."
-- Nadine Neckofie, Teacher at the orphanage of Stormwind.

"I have seen men drink away their future, trying to flee from their past."
-- Anne Deseir, Pub waitress in Lakeshire.

"To follow Light's path, one must walk it free of doubt. What happened, happened. What must happen, must be done regardless."
-- Jean-Pierre d'Armagnac, Priest of the Cathedral of Stormwind.

Introduction and History

The concepts of confession, penance and absolution for one's errors is ages old. Its origins do not lie with the Church of the Light, even. Yet it is a tradition and method that falls in line with the path of the Light and it has been conducted by Priests for many generations.

Confessions, penance and absolution can be rituals of little else than spoken words. Yet some people carry a weight on their conscience that will not lighten with mere words. Some people hold dark thoughts that won't dissolve with just a discussion. Therefor priests some priests choose to assist in a more thorough ritual.
This ritual reaches more deeply than words, and can aid to clear one's mind and heart, and find a new purpose in life. A release or payment of debt could lay on the path to such a new purpose.

Whereas the ritual contains several aspects and stages, the most notorious and feared stage of this ritual is undoubtedly the confession. A good confession might resolve more than any amount of Penance will. Therefor some Priests choose the path of confessors. Confessors carry the weight of their society's ill fated history, so that the society may continue to grow free of such burdens.

The reputation of such confessors is not entirely unfounded. These people have lived through the criminal minds and acts of whole villages which would be enough to sweep any righteous person off their feet, were it not for their immensely strong belief. The combination of the dark confessions they bear while showing utmost dedication to the Light lend these people iconic images. These icons of faith are often feared, for in their eyes one is confronted with their past in the most naked and honest truth.

Throughout the records on the past, references indicate that some clerics who choose the path of a confessor underwent this ritual as a test. A test that serves both to ensure they master the ritual and to clear their past of doubt so they can carry that of another.

Although the ritual is not limited to confessors, tradition has it that the confession part, at least, is carried out by a priest with preparation in this discipline.

Ritual Robes

Confessors are referred to as bearing iconic robes, with marks that refer to both life and death. Such icons may reveal their profession within the Clerical order but also reaffirm to criminals that their work is, indeed, a matter of life and death: only their dedication with their very lives to improvement might yield them salvation and absolution.

Typically, their robes are white to denote the pure intentions, clear mind and unmarked heart which they offer for the confesser. The robes of the confessor may be marked with runes of faith, and wards against dark minds to protect both their own purity and that of the people they choose to aid after the next confession. Often they would hide their faces under the shadow of a hood so that people would not, unwillingly and unprepared, see their own darkness in the reflection of their eyes.

Two confessors, and their robes, have been described in more detail in the books.

Gallahad, the pure of mind, is referred to as follows:
"The whitened skulls on his shoulders contrasted his white robes, marking the severity of the confession he took. All who would look in the soft glow of his eyes with dark thoughts in his mind would find their worst enemy: their conscience. In his Compassion, he hid his eyes under a white cowl though it would sometimes glow in the power of the mind that it contained."

Roxanne, the pure of heart, is referred to as follows:
"Her robes were white and would waver in the wind, impressing that she were lifted from her feet. The golden wings, wrought on her pauldrons, and white hood that flowed like silver hair gave her the appearance of an angel in who's arms one would wish to be carried away. But the marks and runes on her robes revealed a preparation for battle: the war to let love and Light live freely in our hearts."

The dangers of empathy

According to a book of clerical professions, predating the first war, confessors wield immeasurable empathy for their confessers so that they may understand their heart, their crime and plea. Only after understanding, can they properly judge or counsel the confesser.
It also mentions the dangers of this:
"These thoughts can weigh heavily on any righteous person who lives through such experience. Their strength and faith in the Light must be impeccable to overcome the shadow of thoughts they might engage with.
Any judgement, grudge or negative emotion that might reside in their mind or heart could hold back their empathy, undoing the very ritual and leading to needless suffering for those involved."

The preparation of this ritual is rarely referenced to by works of the Church but we do find references of such preparations in village records describing the visit of a confessor. This secrecy encouraged two theories to explain it. One theory is that such preparations and rituals were more commonplace and needless to describe. The other is that these preparations were so thorough that they had to be tailored to the mind heart and heart of the confessor, and thus left to them to to find their own rituals.

Still we can find some similarities. Lakeshire records describe more than one confessor to lock themselves up for one day, eating naught but bread and water, to purify their bodies in preparation. Most records speak of confessors taking time to pray for the purity of their mind and heart between confessions. Only the prayers of Gallahad and Roxanne were noted by Milly of Lakeshire whom was permitted to pray along as a priest apprentice, and for the sake of her brother whom had committed murder and dishonored a woman.

Purity of mind

Make my mind once more a tool of the Light,
So it may understand the wrongs and right,
Like a mind reborn, without any prejudice
So must our mind become to talk of justice,
For justice to exist, one must understand,
No tale but the tale of the criminal mind,
Exposing what drove the mind to madness,
Forsaking our Light's blessing so careless.

With Light's strength, let us see the moment,
That cast our souls and heart into torment,
Let us find healing in Light's purest grace,
And a new path that leads to benevolent ways.
May I pass on the wisdom of Light's glory,
Have its righteous words uttered through me,
So contempt and pain are retained by none,
And have the mercey to see the crime undone.

Purity of heart
The prayer of Roxanne the pure, as passed on by Milly of Lakeshire.

Dear Light, my silent guardian, I beseech thee,
As we listen to another confession, be with me,
Another heart and soul have called for our aid,
Let your blessing be with me in this burden great.

Once more we are asked to carry a sin's weight,
In a desperate plead for love that couldn't wait.
Lend me the strength for their burden to be heard,
Let our love be strong enough to mend their hurt,

May the Light's blessing keep us safe from harm,
So my deepest feelings may yield a cradle warm,
As we nurture the hungering heart, lost in pain.
Lest our suffering and our hurt be all in vain,

May Light's help make my heart and soul so strong
As their hearts confess to me, what they did wrong.
But until their salvation, let my mouth be wise,
And my heart bleed silent until the sun's rise,

May my face for them prove stalwart and fair,
My eyes show only love and no tear rest there,
Help me prepare for the that troublesome sleep,
Where I find Light's comfort and in silence weep.


Methods for the actual confession proved difficult to find. One can assume many of the details were reserved to a more select caste of the clerical society, with the intention of protecting the untrained.
However, it seems common through references, that both spiritual and physical contact is established. It is implied that some hold their confesser like a mother would hold her child, whispering in their ears. Some simply hold hands, while their eyes bring the confesser under a spell.

The symbol

One diary of a traveler, preserved through the third war and discovered in a library in Southshore prior its destruction, spoke of a confession room in Lordaeron:
"Strange symbols the likes I had never seen were scattered across the soft glowing floor of the room. The faded runes still fill my heart with dread, yet they seemed paired with the yellow glowing drawings that brought me peace. And all were connected through bright silver light, flowing in twin lines."

Following the tradition of the robes, we could assume this refers to shadow wards and blessed runes of life. To obtain the visual effects described, we could assume the floor was of white marble, set with gold, silver and carvings. The room is presumed to be destroyed in the third war, guessing by its location and what little reports remain. Perhaps, confession proved too difficult to bear for Forsaken.

However, this much is certain: no such room is available in the smaller towns that describe visits of confessors. Perhaps confessors would conjure such a drawing themselves with cray... or with a spell.

The spell

Once the spell is established, both must see through the confession. It is said that, should the confessor be powerful enough, that both will relive the crime as if it were real... emotions included! This holds some dangers for those involved and may require special care in extreme cases.

Confessing a Crime of Life

Should a confession speak of a murder, then reliving it could hold danger for anyone's mind and heart. It would be an unbearable torment. Such confessions are best left to the most experienced and trained priests for they must be able to let their faith prevail over the experience of the spell, lest they'd kill the confesser's mind.

Confessing a Crime of Love

Should the confession hold a crime against love, or reveal a torment of love, then this may hold danger for the confessor. It is said some would leave their service, should they ever find a partner, for it would be too heavy to bear both love and such confessions.

Confirming new purpose.

When the confession finished, the confesser confirms their choice to change their ways and find a new purpose in life. Upon this, the confessor will bless him or her:
"May the Light bless you with the strength to change what you can change.
May the Light bless you with the tenacity to bear what you can not change.
May the Light bless you with the wisdom to know the difference."

While judgement is left to the confessor, Gallahad once spoke to the public and said they should:
"Work to undo what you can undo. Undergo penance for what you can not undo. Search for Light's wisdom to see the difference and its strength to be confronted with it."


Penance is undergoing a ritual of pain or sacrificing great effort of oneself. This ritual serves to teach the severity of one's crime and as a public mark to acknowledge regret. It can never be the purpose to glorify pain, nor to make the crime worse by adding another.

Penance for a Crime of Life

Life can never be given a price, and one's death can not be undone. Penance can serve to acknowledge regret and to teach. After penance of pain, psychological or physical, the criminal must undergo the confession again. This is repeated until one's confession has been purified of the emotions that were present at the time of the murder.

After this ritual of penance is completed, it is recommended that the criminal undergoes the punishments set by the law in addition. This is to openly declare submission to society's rules and ways. It is a critical step to being reaccepted by society.

Penance for a Crime of Love

Jealousy, parting loved ones or destroying a marriage can yield unrepairable damage to people's emotions. Penance for such a crime often includes a vow of abstinence, living in solitude, or submitting one to a service for society. Some have submitted to service of the Church after such vows, and some would join the army. Such service is a mark of their will to choose society and the wellbeing of others over their personal emotions.


Absolution can only be obtained if the damage was undone, or if society sees more truth in forgiveness than in remembering the crime. As there is no time set on absolution, it may require great effort and patience from the criminal. This is their lesson of Tenacity. They may live to see their deeds forgiven. But they may also live and die, having never received absolution, but the knowledge that their path was, henceforth, one of righteousness and Enlightenment. They should walk that path, and live for absolution, accepting it is not theirs to give and with the knowledge they may never receive it.

OOC section

The text proved longer than originally intended and you have my sincere apology for that. The IC explanation of the ritual makes it hard to guess how this can be roleplayed. I think, this should be up to -you-, the reader. But for those who would like a hint of inspiration I'll give you this: if the confession is a complex story and has multiple roles, it might prove hard and time consuming to roleplay it with "/s" talk. I thought of three ways this could be roleplayed in a more entertaining way.
1) Re-enactment with the people involved.
2) Writing out the story on a forum/PM/Mail. It usually allows more detail. In the game this can be translated to the confession taking notably less time, so more emphasis can be placed on the remainder of the ritual and the impact of confessing.
3) After writing a short story on it on a forum/PM/Mail, re-enactment can be done with the roles reverted. The confessor plays the criminal, the confesser the victim (Inspired by a story by Mandui).

All of these approaches seem a lot of work. That is intentional. For those who believe a simple talk is sufficient, I doubt they need a book like this to provide ideas. For those who like to take it a step further, I hope this book provided some inspiration.

I would like to express a gratitude towards Mandui, Alexandra and Shariah who, unknowingly and totally against my own will, inspired some parts and images in this text. The original text and concept was altered because of this inspiration, since I felt it connected all the dots and it would be a shame not to complete the image. Though I'm not sure they play confessors per se... I do feel they might recognize aspects of their characters in some pieces of this text.

Finally, two notes. Yes, the names in the quotes are 'easter eggs'. And no, Roxanne, the pure of heart, didn't have to wear that dress that night.
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PostSubject: Re: Confession, Penance and Absolution   Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:48 am

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