Reconciliation (a.k.a. Confession)
A Sacrament of Healing
Many people approach this sacrament as a drudgery, a punishment, a guilt trip, or a burden. Which is a shame, because they are really missing out.
We all sin. You. Me. The Pope. And it is precisely because of our sinfulness that we need a Savior. Fortunately for us, that Savior knows temptation - He experienced it first hand and can sympathize with our struggles.
Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God (like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son) comes running to us, ready to pour His abundance on us when we turn from sin and want to come home.
This sacrament is a celebration of God's love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. It cleanses us of sin and returns us to right relationships with God and the community. It returns the branch to the vine, the sheep to the shepherd, the coin to the widow. It heals.
What Does It Involve?
Individual confession with a priest is the principal means of absolution and reconciliation of grave sins. There are four steps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
We feel contrition for our sins and a conversion of heart to
change our ways.
A mature understanding of sin includes reflecting upon our thoughts, actions and omissions as well as examining the patterns of sin that may arise in our lives. With contrite hearts, we are also called to reflect upon the effects of our sins upon the wider community. This whole process is called an Examination of Conscience.
It's important to note that this sacrament is only valid if the individual is truly contrite - truly wants to turn from sin.
We confess our sins and human sinfulness to a priest.
In our contrition, we want to heal what has been broken by confessing it - by taking responsibility for it. For some, this may seem intimidating or humiliating, but psychologically, it's remarkably freeing. We confess to a priest because that's how Jesus set it up for us. (The resources below can explain the scriptural basis for this.)
We receive and accept forgiveness (absolution) and are absolved of our sins. This includes a penance as reparation for our sin.
Let's be clear: God, and only God, can forgive sins. In this sacrament God is working through the priest to give us absolution.
And the concept of "penance" makes sense. Let's say I stole your computer but later apologized. Being the generous soul you are, you would forgive me... But you would want me to give the computer back, right? The apology wouldn't be enough; justice requires a form of reparation.
We celebrate God’s everlasting love for us and commit to live out a Christian life.
Does that mean everyone is perfect after the sacrament? No. But by taking responsibility for their thoughts/words/deeds and then calling upon God's mercy and grace through this sacrament, each person will certainly be in a better position to move forward than they would have been without out.
And what a celebration this sacrament should be for us! Another chance! A clean slate! A new beginning! Thank you, God!
To Learn More...
Anointing of the Sick
forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven;
retain the sins of any,
they are retained."
Jesus to his apostles in John 20:23
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available at our parish on most Saturdays beginning at 4 PM. Confessions are heard at St. Vivian on Saturdays beginning at 3:30 PM.
In addition, our Pastoral Region hosts special Penance Services each Lent and Advent.
You might find these documents helpful in preparing for the sacrament:
Parents whose children are entering second grade (or higher) can contact Amy Staubach for information about our First Reconciliation preparation program.
The painting of Jesus shown above can be purchased here.
*These time are valid through May 30.