Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
“As we continue to explore “How God Distributes His Gifts” we delve into a deeper look at each of the sacraments. We are reminded that Jesus promises that he would not leave us orphans but would send the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us. He gave the sacraments to heal, feed, and strengthen us.
We first looked at the sacrament of Baptism. Today we will look at the sacrament of Penance (also known as Confession or Reconciliation). For those who are interested in learning more about the Sacrament of Baptism you can turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church numbers 1422-1498.
Sometimes on our journey toward the heavenly promised land we stumble and fall into sin. God is always ready to lift us up and to restore us to grace-filled fellowship with him. He does this through the sacrament of penance (which is also known as confession or reconciliation, each term emphasizing a different element of the sacrament).
Jesus gave his apostles power and authority to reconcile us to the Father. They received Jesus’ own power to forgive sins when he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Joh 20:22-23).
Paul notes that “all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation… We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us” (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Through confession to a priest, God’s minister, we have our sins forgiven, and we receive grace to help us resist future temptations.” (Pillar of fire-Pillar of truth, Catholic Answers)
“Since every sin is an offense against God that disrupts our friendship with him, “the ultimate purpose of penance is that we should love God deeply and commit ourselves completely to him.” Therefore, the sinner who by the grace of a merciful God embraces the way of penance comes back to the Father who “first loved us” (1 John 4:19), to Christ who gave himself up for us, and to the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on us abundantly.
Followers of Christ who have sinned but who, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, come to the sacrament of penance should above all be wholeheartedly converted to God. This inner conversion embraces sorrow for sin and the intent to lead a new life. It is expressed through confession made to the Church, due expiation, and amendment of life. God grants pardon for sin through the Church, which works by the ministry of priests.”
Contrition – The most important act of the penitent is contrition, which is “heartfelt sorrow and aversion for the sin committed along with the intention of sinning no more.”
Confession – The sacrament of penance includes the confession of sins, which comes from true knowledge of self before God and from contrition for those sins.
Act of Penance – True conversion is completed by expiation for the sins committed, by amendment of life, and also by rectifying injuries done.
Absolution – Through the sign of absolution God grants pardon to sinners who in sacramental confession manifest their change of heart to the Church’s minister; this completes the sacrament of penance.” (Rite of Penance)