Have you ever done something to cause another person to lose trust in you? I think we’ve all been there in some shape or form whether it’s a teenager who snuck out of the house and got caught and grounded by their parents, or an employee who let their boss down, or a husband who had lied to his wife. Whatever it is, we’ve all let someone down in some way causing them to lose trust and faith in us.
But as often this may happen in our normal lives, it is an occurrence that takes place in our spiritual lives and relationship with God multiple times each and every day. This of course, is the reality of sin. Sin is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes, a “failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. (CCC 1849)” When we sin we offend and fail our Creator. We choose what is opposite of Him. We cast Him aside for our own wants and desires. And just as we may let down others in life through our shortcomings, we let God down in our sinfulness.
Yet in God’s perfect love and mercy, He handles our offenses and injustices vastly different than we as humans do with one another. With human beings it can usually take a long time (if ever sometimes) for a person to forgive and trust another person who has wronged them. With God, the mere acknowledgment and sorrow of our sin in the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation can restore our lives to Him.
The other day, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation which has got me reflecting on the awesomeness of this sacrament. I love going to reconciliation because it’s the chance for a fresh start. It is our opportunity to be reconciled with the Father. It is the chance for the slate to be wiped clean and for our lives to truly begin again.
What’s the big deal about Reconciliation?
As human beings, we need reconciliation! We need it for our souls to survive. Reconciliation heals us of sinfulness which, especially in the cases of mortal sin, can literally kill our souls. That’s why it’s called mortal sin. It mortally wounds our souls and separates us from God. It would be like a soldier who was shot and was bleeding to death but refused to be treated because they figured that they could just heal on their own. Reconciliation is our opportunity to be healed of our disease of sin.
Now I don’t know about you, but I find reconciliation to be extremely uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to sit in front of another person and tell him our sins, especially if they are embarrassing or humiliating. Yet as uncomfortable as this may be, this is a great beauty in this sacrament that actually unites us to Christ in a real and intimate way.
What do I mean by this? First of all, when we are in the confessional, the priest enters into persona Christi or “the person of Christ” where through the graces of his ordination, actually becomes Christ present before us. So we are not telling the priest, but actually Christ Himself. Secondly, it’s hard and humiliating to confess your sins out loud. Yet in that small amount of pain and humiliation, we participate in a small portion of the cross where Christ first took on not only the pain and humiliation of our own sinfulness, but the pain and humiliation of the sinfulness of the entire world.
Suffering is essential to healing. Think about it. When you get a cut, it’s always a good idea to wash it out with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide which can sting horribly but will eventually lead to a faster and cleaner healing. Dislocated bones need to be popped back into place to heal properly which can be extremely painful. In our spiritual lives, we need the suffering of the cross in order to die and then rise with Christ in His resurrection above our own sinfulness.
Go to Confession!
As Catholics, we do not go to confession as often as we can or as often as we should. Ask yourself this: How many times per week do you hurt someone in some way or another? And based on that, how many times each week do you have to tell that person or those people that you are sorry? I know for me it happens every day. With my wife alone I have to say sorry probably countless times per week. As often as we fail each other and have to say sorry, it pales in comparison to our failings and need to be reconciled with God. Yet for most of us, it’s seldom that we take advantage of the sacrament whether because we don’t feel we’ve done “enough” to merit confession (which is completely false), it doesn’t fit into our schedules, or we just plain don’t want to.
We need reconciliation! The Lord desires it so badly for us. Not because He “needs” us to or because he “needs” to hear us say that we are sorry. Rather we NEED Him and He wants to heal us. He wants to forgive us. He wants us to be reconciled to Him. This can only happen however if we choose.
God’s love is unfathomable. As it was stated before, it is so easy to fail someone and have them lose trust in you. Often times, it can take days, weeks, or even years to build that trust back up and be fully reconciled with someone. With God, it can literally take the 5 minutes it takes to go into the confessional, lay our sins before the Lord, receive His unconditional mercy, and be completely reconciled to Him. And what’s even better is that there is no limit on how often you can go to confession.
So if you haven’t gone to confession in awhile, go! Most churches have designated times at least once a week (most have multiple times). If it doesn’t fit into your schedule than call up your parish priest and set up an appointment. Most priests are more than happy to hear your confession! So go to confession! We all need it. Then Lord desires it from us. And there is nothing better for your life or your soul.
“’But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic, ‘Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’” – Matthew 9:6