Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Category

February 20th

February 20, 2011

In the last article, I began reflecting on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession.  I’d like to continue that reflection by focusing on some of the benefits (in addition to our sins being forgiven) that come from receiving the Sacrament.

In addition to receiving forgiveness of our sins we also receive assurance that our sins have been forgiven.  Once we have received the sacramental absolution of our sins from the priest we have certainty that our sins have been forgiven.  We know that God bestows His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that knowledge can be very helpful if we are ever tempted to “beat ourselves up” over past sins that we have already confessed.  We can see in those feelings of guilt a temptation to not trust in God’s mercy.  If memories of previously confessed sins come back to haunt us, we can remind ourselves that God has forgiven us our sins and then thank Him for the mercy that He has bestowed upon us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Another great benefit that comes from confessing our sins (even our venial sins) out loud to a priest is that it helps us to grow in humility.  Pride has a way of pulling the wool over our eyes when it comes to looking at our own hearts.  It is very easy for us to justify ourselves and rationalize away our sins.  Through regularly confessing our sins we are able to have a more realistic picture of who we really are and it reminds us that we are always in need of God’s mercy.

While on the subject of humility, it is important that when we come to Confession that we confess all of our sins, but we should avoid two extremes (which both are rooted in pride).  We should avoid, on the one hand, exaggerating our sins and making them out to be more than they really are; and on the other hand, we should avoid excusing ourselves.  We should take our sins seriously, but real humility is grounded in truth.  When we come to Confession, we come to confess our sins and receive God’s mercy: not to justify ourselves or make excuses.

A final benefit that comes to mind is spiritual direction.  When we go to Confession the priest offers us advice that will help us in our struggle against sin.  When the lines are long (like they often are during our usually scheduled Confession times) the advice is usually short, just to keep the line moving.  If you are in need of more in-depth spiritual direction, it is better to call (or email) the office and make an appointment to see a priest for Confession and direction.  This is just a practical point of common courtesy for others who also want to go to Confession.

God bless,

Father White

February 13th

February 12, 2011

This is the time of year that our second-graders have made or will soon be making their first confessions.  The Sacrament of Confession, or Reconciliation, is a great opportunity to experience the mercy of God.

Christians who are outside the Catholic Church will sometimes say that they do not need to confess their sins to a priest; they say that they go directly to God.  This idea is based on a misunderstanding of the Sacrament.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is not a matter of confessing one’s sins to a priest instead of confessing to God: in the Sacrament we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness from God through the priest.  It is not a matter of having to confess my sins to a priest; it is a privilege that I get to encounter Christ’s mercy in a way that I can perceive with my senses.

It is not the priest that forgives the sin; it is Christ Who acts through the priest to forgive sin.  When the priest gives us absolution, he does not say: “Jesus absolves you,” he says: “I absolve you”; yet we know that God alone can forgive sins.  When the priest pronounces the words of absolution we are actually hearing Christ speak through the priest.  Christ acts through the Sacraments; in the Sacraments we encounter Christ, Himself.

When the priest was ordained, he was configured to Christ in a particular way.  Priests are consecrated to act in the very person of Christ our High Priest.  Ordained priests share in the ministerial Priesthood of Christ.  Jesus bestowed His divine authority to forgive sins upon the Apostles (cf. John 20:21-23) and the Apostles handed that sacred power on to their successors, the bishops, and the bishops bestow this power unto the priests at their ordination.

God knows very well how we are made . . . He, Himself, created us.  We are composed of both body and soul.  Our Lord gave us the Sacraments as outward signs that we can experience with our bodily senses; yet they are signs that communicate grace (divine life) to our souls.

When we hear the priest pronounce the words of absolution, we have assurance that God has forgiven us our sins.  What a blessing it is to hear with our own ears that our sins have, in fact, been forgiven!

God bless,

Father White