I am preparing to confess my sins at my second Reconciliation. This will actually be my first Reconciliation since I became Catholic. My Atheist friends seem to find “confessing” quite amusing while my Evangelical pals raise an eyebrow and shake their hands at me as if to ward off any “black magic”. I admit, when learning the ins & outs of Catholicism at RCIA, Reconciliation was difficult for me to accept. I didn’t understand why I needed to confess to a Priest if Jesus had already died for our sins. He already knew I was sorry… right? Facing my darkest deeds seemed difficult enough but telling them to someone else? Oh the horror! (Remember I can barely talk to a mom from PTA without feeling uncomfortable and Priests wear a lot of black and carry crucifixes and say things like “What the hell were you thinking?… oh wait that would be something my own father would say not the ordained “Father”…uh…nevermind.)
When I finally did confess my sins I went in well prepared by a crack RCIA team and our Parish’s Priest. After much nail biting, hair pulling and general feet dragging I realized it wasn’t so scary, the Priest was totally cool and I left feeling like a heavy weight had been lifted from my heart. Preparing for my second Reconciliation, I wanted to revisit what I’d learned so I put together the following list with some great links for anyone who wants to explore more.
The Questions: What The Heck Is Reconciliation?
Who’s Doing The Forgiving Anyway? “We need to remember that it is what Jesus does in the sacrament of confession that is the most important thing, and on this we need to focus the most when we confess. The examination of conscience, sorrow for sin, purpose of amendment and telling of the sins to a priest are indeed all important aspects of the sacrament. But to have a more positive and meaningful experience of the sacrament we need to remember what Jesus does. The one to whom we are confessing our sins is Christ, and it is our merciful Savior who died on the cross who extends his hands each time we confess to give us divine pardon and healing, to fill us with God’s mercy, and to give us the strength to live good lives and to overcome sin and temptation.via Reconcilliation.
If God Already Forgives My Sins Why Should I Confess Them To A Priest? “The question is often asked, Why confess my sins to a priest? Why not confess them directly to God, since God has already forgiven me anyway? From God’s point of view, this simple answer is: There is no reason. But from our point of view, the answer is that as, human beings who do not live in minds’ and thoughts alone, we need to externalize in a bodily way with words, signs and gestures what is in our minds and hearts. We need to seek, hear and feel forgiveness, not just think about it. We need other human beings to help us externalize what is within us and open our hearts before the Lord, which then puts confessors in a new light. They are best seen not as faceless and impersonal judges but as spiritual guides helping us with our guilt, sorrow and compassionately helping us to experience and receive the mercy of God in our lives.” via Reconcilliation.
The Benefits: The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Celebration! “For those Catholics who have cut ourselves off from God and the Church by serious (grave, mortal) sin and now wish to return to God’s table (many Catholics find this situation rarely happens in their lives), the Church offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation to celebrate their “homecoming.” This is the only time when Catholics are required to celebrate the sacrament. But we celebrate Reconciliation not merely because we have to, but because it is a sacrament—a sign and celebration of God showing forth his mercy “by reconciling the world to himself in Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of Christ on the cross”—as we read in the very first words of the Rite of Penance.” via AmericanCatholic.org – Catholic Update ©2000-How to Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation Today by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D..
Confession makes you better friends with God! “Reconciling man to God is the purpose of Confession. When we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace. And by doing so, we make it even easier to sin some more. The only way out of this downward cycle is to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them, and to ask God’s forgiveness. Then, in the Sacrament of Confession, grace can be restored to our souls, and we can once again resist sin.” via The Sacrament of Confession – Confession in the Catholic Church.
Confession is Soothing! “How many are the souls, in distress, anxiety or loneliness, whose one need is to find a being to whom they can pour out their feelings unheard by the world? Tell them out they must; they cannot tell them out to those whom they see every hour. They want to tell them and not to tell them; and they want to tell them out, yet be as if they be not told; they wish to tell them to one who is strong enough to bear them, yet not too strong to despise them; they wish to tell them to one who can at once advise and can sympathize with them; they wish to relieve themselves of a load, to gain a solace, to receive the assurance that there is one who thinks of them, and one to whom in thought they can recur, to whom they can betake themselves, if necessary, from time to time, while they are in world” (“The Present Position of Catholics,” p. 351). — John Henry Cardinal Newman via The Most Difficult Sacrament.
AND…You Can Read Your Sins Off Your iPhone! I always use my iPhone to take notes of my sins- don’t you? My Priest told me that it was perfectly o.k. to use it as a prompt. Who says the Catholic church is archaic?