In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we acknowledge that we sometimes make bad choices; that we sin and ask God to forgive us. No matter what we have done God longs to offer us forgiveness.
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Why Go to Reconciliation?
Brother Francis explores the importance of going to Reconciliation.
A young person reflects on why we need to go to Reconciliation
The Woman who Touched Jesus’ Cloak
Mark 5: 25 – 34 (NRSV)
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and has spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well”. Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she flet in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say ‘Who touched me’?” He looked all around to see hwho had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fer and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.
A Little Scary
“But why do I have to tell my sins to a priest? Can’t I just go directly to God?”
Yes, we can pray directly to God, and God has already forgiven our sins through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And yes there is a penitential rite at Mass where we acknowledge that we are in need of God’s mercy so why go to reconciliation? It’s hard, particularly if we know the priest to go up and tell them how we are failing to be the best person we can. To admit that actually we do make poor choices that we sin. And God’s done the work so ‘job done’.
The healing of the woman healed of hemorrhages (Mark 5: 25-34). In both passages we have the opportunity to explore several important points:
- We acknowledge our belief that our God is a loving, merciful, and forgiving God, and we are all in need of healing. The woman cured recognized that she was sick, that nothing she could do would cure her, and that Jesus has the power to heal her. The paralytic and his friends recognized the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus. The emphasis is not on the sickness but on the healing. What happens in sacramental Reconciliation is no less miraculous than what happened to the paralytic or the woman. Jesus heals us of our brokenness. Do you believe Jesus can heal you?
- We acknowledge our need to recognize, name, and confess our sins. If we cannot think of what it is we’ve done that offends God, or we never take the time to do so, we need to take a closer look at our relationship with God. We are all sinners. There is a real need for us not only to acknowledge our sinfulness, but to name our sins so we can work towards overcoming them. In order to grow closer to God, we need to recognize what it is that is keeping us away from God. Sacramental Reconciliation provides the opportunity for us to identify our sin, name it, repent of it, and seek forgiveness for it. Only then can we move forward.
- We acknowledge our belief in the communal nature of the Body of Christ and the role of the Church in leading and guiding God’s people. Our communal celebrations of the sacraments witness to our reliance on the whole Body of Christ as we make our way through this life. We are not in this alone. And we recognize that our sinfulness not only affects our personal relationship with God, but it affects our relationships with our brothers and sisters. Celebrating communally the presence of God in our brokenness and in our healing, we are strengthened to move forward together.
Considering our Actions
The Ten Commandments are a guide to how we relate to God, ourselves and others. This fun song presents some key aspects of Christian life.
What happens during Reconciliation?
It can be a little daunting going to Reconciliation for the first time. This short video breaks rite into seven simple steps to remind us what to do and say.
The Beatitudes teach us about the Attitudes we need to have as we make choices. Read them regularly.
This prayer could be used at the closing of a Reconciliation preparation session.
Checking what we know
This fun quiz is not only a great way to find out what we remember about the Sacrament on Penance, but also demonstrates the many ways people ‘go’ to reconciliation.
How Much Do You Know about the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
Naming the Sacrament
What are the parts of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? This sacrament is often referred to as “Confession” and is officially called Penance. These names refer to particular parts of the Sacrament. First, we feel sorrowful in our hearts, and have a determination not to sin again. We then confess our sins to a priest. After our confession and an Act of Contrition, we receive absolution of our sins and a penance to strengthen us to live fully and in love.