The Sacrament of Reconciliation

I “liked” a page on Facebook called “Jesus Daily”. Usually, the posts are prayers. Anymore, it seems like the prayers say something about “Jesus, forgive my sins.” However, as a Catholic, I have a problem with these prayers. These prayers suggest that all that has to be done to have our sins forgiven is to just ask Jesus. John 20:21-23 (NABRE) says, “(Jesus) said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  This does not say, ‘Tell people to just send up a prayer and ask me for forgiveness, without even telling me what sins you have committed.’  Sins are forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  When Catholics go to “Confession”, we take this sacrament very seriously.  We pray before hand to Jesus to ask Him to help us make a good confession.  We meditate on what our sins are, we confess our sins to a priest with the understanding that we are going to try not to commit these particular sins again, we say an “Act of Contrition” (a prayer telling Jesus and God the Father that we are sorry for having sinned), then  receive penance.  Penance can be anything, from saying certain prayers to performing a particular act, to whatever the priest thinks will help us understand our sin and keep us from performing the sin again.  Some of you may feel that having to confess our sins seems harsh and being punished for our sins is uncalled for.  Don’t we make our children do the same things when they have misbehaved?  Don’t we want to be told what was done when we see something askew or if one of our children is crying?  Don’t we punish our children so they understand how serious their sin was and to try to keep them from doing it again?  Why should we expect God to be any different?  Plus, who can the priest know what sins to forgive and what to retain (not forgive) if  we don’t tell him?  Just asking Jesus to forgive our sins without any kind of consequences or accountability does not work.  We need to know what we did was wrong and be punished or we will keep performing the same sins because we have no reason not to.  Just the same as if we let our children get away with actions that are wrong; they will keep repeating the same bad behaviour.

 

St Peter in Penitence

St Peter in Penitence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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