In this passage from Therese's memoirs, there is a point or two which will seem questionable to many Lutheran ears. Lutherans are taught that in confession there ought never be an exhortation after the absolution, which would confuse God's grace with the burden of the law. It is important to remember that in this case Therese remembers this "exhortation" as an "encouragement." It is also important to balance this with the understanding she expresses of the power of the absolution. Namely, God's absolution does what it says, and there is no talk of conditions. (I hasten to add here that there is in fact something offensive about the Lutheran teaching on confession, namely, that in most parishes it is only theoretical.) Secondly, "devotion" to Mary is foreign to most Lutherans. Certainly tenderness and love of the Virgin Mother of God is in no way offensive in itself. In fact, it is most wholesome, as I will discuss more fully in another blog post.
Oh! dear Mother, with what care you prepared me for my first confession, telling me it was not to a man but to God I was about to tell my sins; I was very much convinced of this truth. I made my confession in a great spirit of faith, even asking you if I had to tell Father Ducellier I loved him with all my heart as it was to God in person I was speaking.
Well instructed in all I had to say and do, I entered the confessional and knelt down. On opening the grating Father Ducellier saw no one. I was so little my head was below the arm-rest. He told me to stand up. Obeying instantly, I stood and faced him directly in order to see him perfectly, and I made my confession like a big girl and received his blessing with great devotion, for you had told me that at the moment he gave me absolution the tears of Jesus were going to purify my soul. I remember the first exhortation directed to me. Father encouraged me to be devout to the Blessed Virgin and I promised myself to redouble my tenderness for her. Coming out of the confessional I was so happy and light-hearted that I had never felt so much joy in my soul. Since then I've gone to confession on all the great feasts, and it was truly a feast for me each time.