We invite you to rediscover the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For many Catholics going to confession is something that is feared and often avoided. Sound familiar? Has it been a while since your last confession? If so, no worries, you are always welcome to return.
What is Reconciliation?
Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in His love and mercy to offer sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God. At the same time sinners reconcile with the Church because it is also wounded by our sins.
Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. In Reconciliation, we acknowledge our sins before God and His Church. We express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and His Church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future.
Examination of Conscience
Before going to Confession you should make a review of mortal and venial sins since your last sacramental confession, and should express sorrow for sins, hatred for sins and a firm resolution not to sin again.
I Forgot the Act of Contrition
No worries, we’ve got you covered. We even have a cheat sheet in the confessional to help you if you get nervous.
Act of ContritionOh my God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and in failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
Confession: It Puts You Straight with Everyone
Need a few more reasons to convince you to go? Check out St. Mary Ann Walsh’s post on how Reconciliation helps you get straight with everyone.
Penance, aka confession, is the sacrament of the forgiveness of sin. You can’t beat it for convenience. It’s available practically whenever. Tell a priest you want to go to confession and you’ll get his attention. One bishop I know was cornered on an airplane. Another passenger figured out what was going on and asked if he could confess too. It must have been an interesting game of musical seats. An interesting question for priests might be: Where was the strangest place you ever administered the sacrament of penance? The answers I’ve gathered include “in a sports bar, at a graduation party” and “on the golf course, walking up the fairway.”
Confession has benefits. Here are ten:
- Confidentiality guaranteed. There’s nothing like confessing your sins to someone guaranteed not to tell anyone else. Sometimes you need to talk in absolute confidence. Even under subpoena, a priest can’t tell anyone what’s said to him in confession. He can’t even hint at it. Now that’s confidentiality.
- Housekeeping for the soul. It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed – even if it’s your own.
- A balm for the desire for revenge. When you have been forgiven you can forgive others. If the perfect Jesus forgives me, who am I to want to avenge the slights in my life. Think: “Why did they promote him over me?’ or “Mom played favorites!”
- Low cost therapy. It’s free, which makes it cheaper than a psychiatrist for dealing with guilt.
- Forced time to think. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. To examine our lives and acknowledge failings marks the first step of making things right with God, others and ourselves. Life can be more worth living when you ponder the meaning of your own life.
- Contribution toward world peace. Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, said that the imbalances in the world that lead to war and tensions “are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man.” Peace of soul leads to peace of heart leads to peace beyond oneself.
- A better neighborhood. Confession leaves you feeling good about yourself, thereby cutting back the inclination to road rage and aggressive shopping cart driving. With the grace of the sacrament you’re energized to, as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more.”
- Realistic self-perception. Confession helps overcome arrogance when you have to admit you’re as much of a sinner as anyone else. It helps build tolerance for others’ perceived shortcomings.
- One more benefit of being Catholic. There are lots of benefits, including a sense of community, liturgical rites to help us encounter God in prayer, and the wonderful sense of humanity exemplified in the saints, from Mary, the loving Mother of God, to Augustine, the exasperating son of Monica. The sacrament that leads us to inner peace is among the greatest boons.
- Closeness to God. Confession helps you realize that you have a close connection to God and receive his grace through the sacraments. What can be better than knowing God’s on your team, or, to be less arrogant about it, that you are on God’s.