Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in His love and mercy to offer us forgiveness of any sins we have committed against God, our neighbor or ourselves. Sin prevents us from having a healthy, loving relationship with God, others and ourselves. Through this sacrament, we are healed, restored and free to be in right relationship again with our God, our family, our world, our Church.
If it has been a long time since your last confession, welcome back! Every saint had a history, and every sinner has a future. The Lord’s love, mercy and reconciliation is available all the time. Reconciliation is what God does. We prepare for it by opening ourselves up, by reflecting upon the areas in our lives bound by darkness, hurt, shame or guilt into which God so deeply desires to enlighten, heal, and free. We prepare with the simple question: Where might God be offering me forgiveness, healing and freedom? If my answer is, “I don’t know,” then I have some reflection (or examination) to do.
In Reconciliation, forgiveness of sins involves four parts:
Contrition: knowing what my sin is and sincerely sorrow for having offended God. There can be no forgiveness if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve to change with God’s help.
Confession: confronting and having power over our sins in a profound way by calling them out aloud to God through the priest.
Penance: an important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest gives for us to do as a sign of our working to be in right relationship with God and others.
Absolution: the priest speaks the words aloud of what is really happening within you—the washing of your soul clean by the blood shed by the Lord Jesus Christ for you on the Cross.