"'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.'" -- John 20:23
The Sacrament of Penance is an experience of the gift of God's boundless mercy. Not only does it free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned."
The Sacrament of Penance is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. Combined with confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the Church. The Sacrament helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God.
While all the Sacraments bring us an experience of the mercy that comes from Christ's dying and rising, it is the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is the unique Sacrament of mercy.
To help you be ready for the Sacrament of Penance, we encourage you to reflect on the following:
- How long has it been since your previous confession?
- Have you hurt others (spouse, child, co-worker, parent, God) with a harsh word, deed or gesture?
- Is there anyone you are having difficulty forgiving? Yourself?
- Have you missed Mass recently? Often?
- Do you try to honor the Commandments?
- Do you need help in prayer?
"'Be reconciled to God.' He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: ‘Go; first be reconciled to your brother'" -- Rite of Penance & Reconciliation, #1424.