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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the way in which Early Modern Jesuits understood the practice of confession. As leading actors in the apostolic field, they often promoted a vision of the sacrament of penance, which, in stark contrast to its connotations as a means of punishment, turned it into an effective tool oriented toward inner reform of the individual. Based on analysis of the Iberian interior missions, a range of practices is considered—including examination of conscience, general confession, and spiritual direction—that imbued the act of confession with a strong introspective dimension in the Society’s missionary contexts. Thus, this chapter highlights the role of such instruments in the development of forms of subjectivity, which contributed to individuals “entering into themselves,” exploring inner spaces of their soul. The particular geography of this space had to be known to conquer it and to thus lead the penitent toward a devoted life and Christian perfection.

Keywords: Jesuits, confession, interior missions, conversion, inner reform, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, subjectivity

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