Questions and Answers
“In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide you from myself, not myself from you.”
What is the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Confession or Penance, is a sacred encounter with God’s mercy and love where the forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism happens. Through God’s grace, we come to the realisation that our sins of not loving God, our neighbour, and ourselves have wounded ourselves and others and therefore we desire reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the seven sacraments. Specifically, it is a sacrament of healing. When we acknowledge the wrong we have done and are sorry for the sins we may have committed, we confess them to God, in the celebration of the sacrament, and pardon and peace are given. An act of penance, such as a prayer or act of charity, is given to help us configure with Christ.
Why should we go to this Sacrament?
All humans have the desire to be loved, acknowledged, and accepted in life. God desires for his children to experience in a concrete and personal way his forgiveness and peace. Sadly, our sins damage our relationship between us and God, between each other, and hurts ourselves. Reconciliation helps along the journey to restore and strengthen the bond of love between us and God, between each other and helps restore inner peace. Jesus instituted this sacrament for this purpose of granting pardon for our sins and to live a life of peace.
But why do I have to go to a priest, is that restricting God’s mercy?
True, God’s mercy is infinite, and it is not bound by sacraments; but the ordinary way for Catholics to encounter God’s grace is through the sacraments of the Church. The confessor-priest is not the master or controller of God’s forgiveness, but its servant. (cf. CCC 1466). The confessor-priest, in this capacity, acts as a representative for the Church and helps the individual along the way. When we go to our GP, they usually ask us what our problems or symptoms are in order to get a diagnosis. When we put names to our sins, struggles, and misdeeds, it helps with the healing process of being honest with God in areas where we need his help and grace.
I am afraid or nervous of confession. I don’t know what to say.
Don’t worry! We are human and have different emotions. Take your time, use the words you feel comfortable with and that come to your mind. Remember that in this sacrament you are talking to God, with the priest assisting you. No sin is unforgivable. The priest is not there to judge or condemn you, but to journey with you as you encounter God’s mercy and love. It is important to recall that priests are penitents too and frequent the sacrament of reconciliation, so they know how it feels! Do not be afraid, and if you are nervous, just tell the priest. There are numerous ‘examination of consciences’ available to help you in reflecting in what areas of our lives we didn’t love God, our neighbour, or ourselves.