An invitation by the Holy Father invites Catholics around the globe to discover God’s mercy and extend forgiveness to others. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis is an opportunity to reflect on God’s mercy for all humanity.
The Church offers the sacrament of Reconciliation as a means of intimately experiencing God’s mercy and receiving grace.
This healing sacrament is three-fold: penitents confess their sins to a priest who represents Christ; they are reconciled to God and their brothers and sisters through the healing words of absolution; and the priest assigns a penance on God’s behalf to help the penitent grow in holiness.
The biblical reference is documented in Sacred Scripture. John writes how Jesus empowers His disciples to forgive the sins of others in His name. “… He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (Jn 20:21-23).
Other stories reveal God’s mercy through the words of Jesus in parables such as the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan and the Lost Sheep.
Once we receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, sin is not in the way anymore. The sacrament helps facilitate that because sin is the number one thing that keeps us from that relationship.
Confessing sin is central to the reconciliation process. The penitent must be truly sorry and attempt to repair the damage sin has done.
We encounter God the Father when we repent. His arms are always open; wanting to receive us, wanting to forgive us, wanting to love us and reconciliation allows that to happen.
Reluctance to go to the confessional is often due to feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt or unworthiness. But remember, God’s mercy is greater than your sin. Sin hurts people physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. People suffer from tremendous guilt and they don’t have to feel that shame. Confession is an opportunity to hear those words of forgiveness from Christ.
It’s not a list of things to do, but simply a way to be. Our soul longs for God … and we have an innate desire to know God.