Confession also referred to as penance or reconciliation refers to a way of obtaining forgiveness from God. According to the catholic’s teaching, God does not forgive people their past, present and future sins when they become Christians. Through baptism, there is forgiveness for present and past sins, but there is no part in the scripture where future sins are forgiven. Therefore, the only means of attaining forgiveness of sins are through confession. The church teaches that people can confess menial or venial sins directly to God, but for mortal or grave sins, which are responsible for crushing the spiritual life from the soul, God instituted a different channel for obtaining forgiveness, the sacrament of confession, reconciliation or penance.
To the world at large, St Augustine was a brilliant thinker, who influenced theology and philosophy peacefully, development of apostolic endeavors and thrust of the spirituality of the early church. He was born in Tagate a few miles from the Hippo in North Africa in 354, to a father who was a Roman official who later became a Christian and a mother deeply committed to Catholicism. His mother was, however, more spiritual and cried for his son’s spiritual death more than the bodily death. From the ages of 18-27, he confesses that he lived a life full of shame, ranging from indulgence in pleasures, truths and honors, thereby falling into troubles, errors and sorrows. At the time, he started a rhetoric school, which required wide knowledge on the intellectual currents of his time. He became involved an ancient sect, the manichees though he decreased his allegiance to the sect over the period of nine years since it became apparent to him that the leaders of the sect were not able to offer satisfactory answers to his probing questions. At this point, he was a professional success but a personal wreck.
Unhappy with his life and immensely dissatisfied with the sect, he was a disturbed person. Onetime, he attended church with his mother where St. Ambrose was preaching, though initially to hear his eloquence, but then he got an understanding of the bible and the Christian faith. The scriptures became alive, and this marked the beginning of his transformation.
In 386, Augustine totally turned away from his sinful life, resigned from his teaching career and prepared for baptisms, where St. Ambrose baptized him. He then started sharing a house companions who had turned their lives away from the world, where they debated on issues of faith. This formed the foundation for the Augustinian communities across the world today. He then became the bishop of hippo where he continued preaching the word of God. He also functioned as a civil magistrate as his part time job. He also wrote many books among them The Confessions and The City of God. He fell ill in the year 430 and died on 28 August 430 in prayer.
St Augustine’s on suffering is that people are responsible for all the evils resulting from misuse of their wills. He held that turning one’s will from God is a sin, and we cannot claim that God causes sin. He also said that all people are sinful by the fact that we Adam’s descendants, who fell short of God’s glory. Therefore, good people experience evil thing by virtue of being evil in nature. This means that even infants the original sin taints infants too. Explaining the reason why all the infants need baptism to cleanse them from the original sin. St. Augustine held that, the only way to escape from such wickedness is by accessing God through the church.
In the film, the Schindler’s List, many themes relate to St. Augustine’s confession. First, in the presence of overwhelming evil, the Jews exhibit an unbroken will and spirit to survive. Mrs. Nussbaum, tries to make the best of the circumstances they find themselves in, forced into ghetto life tells her that the place they were living could be worse. Factory workers live in fear of death and shooting, but still hopes to survive as evidenced by the wedding in Plaszów labor camp. Even during such tough times, two people still managed to fall in love and get married hoping that they will survive to celebrate the marriage. A woman in the barracks makes apologies to God for conducting the ceremony despite the fact that she was not a Rabbi.
The play also reveals that a single person can make a significant difference in the society. At the time of the film, there were more than 6000 descendants of the Schindlerjuden, who may not have been in existence if one man had not made a decision against the evil. Oskar Schindler stood his ground and fought against the overwhelming evil of the Nazis against the Jews at a time when The Third Reich encouraged and sanctioned violence against the Jews. Many Nazis would have made a decision to help the Jews, but did not do so for fear of reprisal. Even the Jewish friends turned against them instead of helping them out of their misery.
The other theme in Schindler’s list is the dangerous ease of denial. The Jews vehemently deny their current situation even after going into a ghetto and cramped into labor camps later. The Jews left their houses and homes in the countryside and shifted to Kraków since the Nazis forced them and later found themselves in the ghetto. They keep hoping that the bad side of this life will go away with time. A classic example of this denial occurs when Mila Pfefferberg tells other Jews women that she heard the rumors about death camps, where Jews were being gassed, and the remains cremated en masse. The women respond angrily that such a thing would not happen, but they are aware that there is a likelihood. This denial made many Jews fall victims of the holocaust. The families, however, still exhibit loyalty as evidenced by the strong family ties. Chaja sacrifices her own space for the sake of her daughter’s safety in the hideout. Danka then portrays her loyalty by running out of the supposed hide out and goes to look for her mother. They constantly look out for each other throughout the play. Schindler, on the other hand, shows his loyalty by ensuring the workers he had been working, were on the list. He even goes ahead to bribe the commander of Auschwitz to allow him to have the exact number of Jewish women from the list; since he had made them a promise that he would keep them away from Auschwitz.
St Augustine belief on sin and suffering is slightly different from the Schindler’s List film. This is because, St Augustine beliefs that sins and suffering results from the fact people turn their wills against God. Consequently, they suffer as a form of punishment for not following God’s teachings and commandments. Schindler’s List film, on the other hand, reveals a condition where people suffer because of their race and background and not because of any wrongdoing against God. In this film, the undergo torture and mistreatments from the Nazis, who find pleasure in torturing them. This is evident through the random shooting of the Jews from the balcony by the Nazis.
The other difference between St. Augustine and Schindler’s List film emanates from the fact that the former makes confessions about his sinful life since his childhood to the point when he went through baptism. He elaborates all the events that followed since his childhood in his first confession book to the point where he decides to pursue Christianity. He even confesses the point in his life when he had the wrong company and involved in stealing pears, despite the fact that he did not miss anything at home. His father worked extremely hard to ensure that he had all the basic needs including education. However, the Schindler’s List film is full of denial with people denying what is happening and what they are going through. Women never accepted the killings and cremation of Jews, and instead they hoped that they would survive.
However, there are slight differences between St. Augustine and Schindler’s List films opinion on redemption. St. Augustine held that the only way people could be saved form sin is through seeking forgiveness from God. He states that people, including infants have to go through baptism so that they can attain forgiveness from the original sins. After baptism, people can go pray to God directly for forgiveness of minor sins, but they have to confess grave sins able to attain forgiveness. In the Schindler’s List film, we find a woman, praying for forgiveness from God since she conducted a ceremony despite the fact that she is not a priest.
St. Augustine’s doctrines on confession and baptism are not particularly applicable in the modern world. People have reduced their interests in Christianity and faith issues. People are increasingly critical of the traditional catholic doctrines, and they are embracing liberal lives. Protestant Christians also do not follow these teachings. However, there are still areas and countries where Catholicism is deeply entrenched, and the citizens honor the sacrament of confession.