THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION (RECONCILIATION)
What is a Sacrament?
First, “sacrament” means a “sign”. Do you love somebody – parents, spouse, children, and friends? Now, how do these persons experience your loving affection and commitment towards them? Well, perhaps, you tell them that you love them, you hug them, you spend time with them, you help them with homework and you share a meal together. In this case, the gift of your love for these persons does not simply remain in your heart but it is outwardly expressed in very concrete and palpable ways. In simple terms, we can understand the word ‘sacrament’ as the concrete and palpable ways by which your love is actually and really expressed.
In John 3:16, God expresses His love for the world, for us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” You see – God’s love for us is not something that God keeps to Himself. The love of God for all humanity finds its most concrete and palpable expression in the person of Jesus Christ. Here, we can say that Jesus Christ is the sacrament of the love of God.
In his public ministry, Jesus used very concrete and palpable ways to make known to people the love that God has for them: he cured their diseases, he fed them, he taught them about God the Father, and, of course, Jesus allowed them to experience God’s love and mercy by calling them to repentance and forgiving their sins. And Jesus, because he is God, is able to forgive sins (see Mark 2:1-12). Moreover, Jesus shared and entrusted to the Apostles his special ministry of making known and experienced God’s love and mercy (see John 20:22-23; also Matthew 16:16-19). That the Church continues to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation even today is our way of acknowledging the real gift of God’s love and mercy for us, and of remaining true to this great responsibility that Jesus gave us.
Now, “reconciliation.” Remember baptism? In that sacrament, we were invited by God to share in His divine life – to be called His sons and daughters. In the same sacrament, we acknowledged such a generous invitation by accepting God to be our Father. In baptism, we begin to live as members of God’s family. As sons and daughters of God, we are called to become like God, holy (Leviticus 11:45) and perfect (Matthew 5:48). To be holy and perfect is a tall invitation but by God’s grace, it is possible to be holy and perfect – the reason why we recognize countless saints in the church. There are times, however, when we give in to temptation and end up committing sin – which is an offense against God because sin disrupts our relationship with God (Rite of Penance). But God’s love and mercy is for the sinner (Luke 5:32). God unceasingly calls us, not to condemn but to save, through:
repentance – to humbly and honestly recognize our sins and failures;
contrition – to be really sorry for hurting God and others because of our sins,
penance – to concretely show in our thoughts, words and actions our ‘yes’ to God and our ‘no’ to evil. In this sacrament, we receive absolution – our sins are forgiven by God through Jesus in the ministry of the priest, and therefore, we are once more reconciled with God and one another, the Church.
Times for this sacrament at Holy Family are as follows:
Thursday: within Holy Hour 6.00pm – 7.00pm
Saturday: Saturday 6.00pm – 6.20pm.
Or by just coming to the priest’s door and asking for a chat/reconciliation.