Reconciliation and the Gift of Fatherly forgiveness

Four parts of Lent

What are the benefits of Reconciliation?

Probably the most important is a spiritual benefit. Saint Augustine was once asked: What is the secret of holiness? He said it is humility. Then he said the second and the third secrets of holiness are also humility. In order to grow in holiness you need humility, and there is no better way to become humble than go to Confession.

Sin is predominantly an act of pride. So forgiveness comes from the opposite: being humble. There is no greater act of humility than to say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” And that brings about God’s grace. Just going to Confession and acknowledging that does something for you. No matter what the priest says or doesn’t say, that is a great act of humility.

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Another benefit of every sacrament is an encounter with Christ. A sacrament is meaningful because it echoes what Jesus did. Jesus healed people, and we have the sacrament of anointing. Jesus fed people, and we have the Eucharist. All the sacraments resonate with the actions of Jesus, and one of the greatest things that Jesus did was forgive sinners.

That was a huge part of his ministry. When you go to Reconciliation you are encountering the same Christ who forgave Peter and so many others in the gospels and who welcomed Matthew the tax collector and the other disciples even though they had let him down during his hour of suffering.

Reconciliation is a personal encounter with Jesus who is full of mercy and compassion, and there is no greater way to experience God’s love than to experience God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is not something people deserve. Forgiveness is a gift, and God keeps forgiving us over and over again. When you genuinely celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, you genuinely touch the love of this God, and I think that is the most beautiful thing about it. Because we’ve chosen a way of life which says that God is most important, prayer is central to our lives. Think of it as a deep level of communication with God, similar to the kind of communication that happens between any two people who love each other. Our relationship with God grows and deepens with prayer.

Since prayer is important, many priests, sisters, and brothers spend about two hours a day praying. Part of that time we pray with others at Mass. We also pray other formal prayers like the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary, or spend time with others less formally reading and reflecting on readings from the Bible. Part of the time we also pray alone, perhaps reading or just being quiet with God. One of the positive effects of prayer, whatever shape it takes, is to keep us aware of God’s activity in the people, events, and circumstances of daily life.

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Written by; ++Archbishop Paul V. Roberts DD., HDD., MPR., APP., M.Ph. In Law., O.S.A., O.S.P., O.S.B., S.O.BB.

Senior Vice President of the Ministerial Council Board of Directors and the Celtic Cross Foundation of Ministry