The Sacrament of Reconciliation, sometimes called Confession or Penance, heals us of the separation from God caused by our sinfulness. Because of God’s rich mercy for us, He set up a remedy for people who, after Baptism, continue to fall out of His grace by falling into sin. This remedy is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. However, this was not a sacrament before the coming of Christ and it is also not a sacrament for anyone who has not been baptized.
Because of the stain of serious sin, all men have needed reconciliation to obtain grace and justice. For you and I, this sacrament might seem intimidating, but it is something Jesus calls us to do. Let’s face it, nobody wants to go to someone and speak out loud about their imperfections and sinfulness. It is only natural for us to feel ashamed of speaking of our sins and having to go before God’s representative on earth, the priests, and speak with humility and without excuses of when we have fallen short with regard to our moral life. In regards to what constitutes a serious sin, you can go to my article “Sin – Mortal vs. Venial” @ https://renewedhopeministry.com/2014/03/16/sin-mortal-vs-venial/
Christians, and even some Catholics, might say that all we have to do is go to Jesus directly for the forgiveness of sins. They would say that I don’t need some priest (who is a sinner just like me) to be a mediator between Christ and me. In answer to this, I can just hear God saying, “check out my 2000 year-old confession instructions that I have conveniently written down for you in John 20:21-23, Matt 16:18-19, Matt 18:18, 2 Cor 5:17-21, etc…!” For more information on this subject, go to my article entitled “Why Confess to a Priest” @ https://renewedhopeministry.com/2013/09/01/why-confess-to-a-priest/
When it comes to the importance of Christians celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation when they have a serious sin on their soul, I would like to share with you an analogy offered by Fr. Mario Romero, a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana: “Suppose that you were going on vacation for three weeks during the summer and you asked your next-door neighbor to cut your grass in your absence. Your neighbor agrees to help you out. Before you leave on vacation, you take your neighbor to the shed in your backyard and you show him your lawnmower and give him instructions on how to operate it. You come back from your vacation and, lo and behold, your neighbor is on his hands and knees cutting your grass with a pair of scissors. What would your first question to your neighbor be? It would probably be something like, ‘Why didn’t you use the tool that I left behind and instructed you to use?’ When Jesus returns to His earthly ‘home’ on Judgment Day after His ‘vacation’ in heaven, I think He might very well ask the same question to Christians who are not actively celebrating the Sacrament of Penance. In going to Jesus directly and by-passing the system that He has already set up and commanded us to utilize, would be to, effectively say to Him, ‘Thanks, but no thanks, Jesus. I know better than you how my forgiveness is supposed to come about. I’ll do it my way if you don’t mind ( from his book Unabridged Christianity, pgs. 289-290).”
It is through this sacrament that we are healed and made whole. With regards to the effects of this sacrament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it like this: “’The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.’ Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation ‘is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.’ Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God (CCC #1468).”
The feeling we can get from partaking in this sacrament can be seen as “the lifting of a load of weight from our shoulders,” especially if we have been carrying a heavy sin around on our souls. Just to be able to unload our transgressions in a verbal fashion to someone other than ourselves can have that effect, especially when that person is bound to secrecy and the seal of confession.
Until next time, God bless.