(also called “Confession” or “Penance”)
St. Paul wrote: “God has… given us the ministry of reconciliation…
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
“To those who have been far away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation and forgiving love I make this appeal: come back to this source of grace; do not be afraid! Christ is waiting for you. He will heal you and you will be at peace with God!” Pope Saint John Paul II, 1987
First Reconciliation: Please contact our parish office.
Examinations of Conscience:
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, through confession of sins to a priest, is essential for those who are conscious of having committed any serious sin.
Unrepentant serious sin ruptures our relationship with God and with others. It makes it impossible for us to grow in the spiritual life, in virtue, or to have graced relationships with each other. We cannot enter Heaven if we refuse to repent of serious sin.
It would be unwise for us to take any unconfessed grave sin with us to the next life, when the mercy of God is so readily available to us in this life, in this sacrament, given to us by Christ.
Let us be reconciled today, to God and his Church, while we yet have breath, so that we may enjoy the blessings of God and the peace of a happy death. Tomorrow may be too late!
“Conversion requires convincing of sin.”
Blessed Pope John Paul II
“To do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1848
“One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience.” Catechism, par. 1493
“There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.
‘There is no one, however wicked and guilty,
who may not confidently hope for forgiveness,
provided his repentance is honest.
Christ who died for all men
desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open
to anyone who turns away from sin.’”
Catechism, par. 982
I can’t think of any sins!
The reality of our situation is not that we are without sin, but that we are not aware of our sins. For, Sacred Scripture assures us: “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). In fact, the Bible tells us that, “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
Consider these verse of Scripture as well:
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
“Hear my prayer, O LORD… Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee.” Psalm 143 1-2
“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?” Proverbs 20:9
Blessed John Paul II often spoke of how the modern age has fallen under this deception and lost a “sense of sin.” Just as we can have cancer or another type of serious illness and not be aware of it, we can also have sin on our soul and live in a state of unawareness or even, denial. This is the same spiritual blindness that Jesus accused the Pharisees of having. What is needed to insure our spiritual health is the same thing we do routinely to insure our physical health – an examination. We need to make a thorough examination of our conscience, at the very least, on an annual basis.
When we prepare to make an examination of conscience, we should remember that the standard, by which we measure our lives, is not the holiness of our neighbor, but rather, the holiness of God.
“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
This raises the bar for us! When we reflect on the holiness and perfection of God, and compare our lives to His holiness, we become more aware of our own sinfulness. The contrary is also true:
“The loss of the sense of sin is… a form or consequence of the denial of God.”
Blessed Pope John Paul II
Let us then examine our lives in the penetrating light of God’s Word, according to his commandments and his call to holiness. Listen anew to these words of Jesus, which lead us to examine the attitudes of our heart:
“Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.” Matthew 5:22
“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”Matthew 5:28
FROM THE CATECHISM
“One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience. The confession of venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.” CCC 1493
“There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.” CCC 982
“To do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts.” CCC, 1848
“Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.” CCC, 387
“‘Each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.’ Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.” CCC 1457
Why can’t I just confess my sins to God?
Why confess to a priest?
The simple answer to this is that this is how Jesus set it up! When Jesus comes to meet us, to grant us his saving graces, it is not we who chose the time and the place. We must meet Jesus where he has asked us to meet him – in the sacraments. He took on flesh so that he might meet us in bodily form. He continues to do so in the sacraments, in things and people that we can see, hear, and touch.
When you confess your sins to a priest, you are confessing your sins to God. The priest is merely the “meeting place” that God has established.
Jesus comes to meet you in the person of the priest. Jesus instituted this sacrament as the “meeting place” where he desires to grant you the forgiveness of sins. The priest, as minister of this sacrament, acts in the person of Jesus Christ. When the priest gives you absolution, it is God who is forgiving you.
God became Man so that his saving grace would be more readily available to us “in the flesh.” Jesus took on flesh to make his grace more accessible for us in a tangible manner. Because we have bodies, and are not merely spiritual beings (like the angels), Jesus comes to us in bodily form. It is for our benefit that God has chosen to work through visible, tangible signs that we can see, hear, and touch.
Imagine what it would have been like if the apostles had told our Lord, “Why do we have to speak and talk to you in the flesh, when we can always speak to God the Father in the spirit?!” But this is exactly what we are saying to God when we say we don’t need to confess our sins to the priest that Jesus has sent to us for this very purpose!
As the Father sent Jesus to minister to us in the flesh as our Savior, Jesus has sent us priests to continue his own ministry. We know this because Jesus himself told us! And he did so in the context of entrusting to the Apostles with his priestly ministry of reconciliation, which involves the forgiveness of our sins:
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20: 21-23
When God comes to us in the flesh, it is not for us to tell him that the means he has chosen to communicate with us is unacceptable, because we prefer to communicate with him in a “spiritual sense.” God the Father chose to communicate his Son to us through a physical body – through the Incarnation. God the Son became man, taking on human flesh so as to better communicate to us our salvation. He continues to communicate these supernatural saving graces to us through tangible, physical realities, which we call the sacraments. If God felt that it was necessary for him to communicate his spiritual graces to us through physical means, first through the Incarnation of his Son, and now through the sacraments, who are we to question how he wants to do it and whether this is the best way or not?!