The Sacrament of Confession may very well be the most underutilized and misunderstood gift given to us by Jesus through His Catholic Church. Continuing with our series of steps designed to help you learn more about the Catholic Faith, we’ll discuss the importance of sacramental confession. Once you make a decision to learn more about your faith, we strongly recommend receiving the sacrament of Confession on a regular basis. As was discussed in yesterday’s blog regarding the Mass, our suggestions for learning the Catholic Faith involve more than just text book facts. We also integrate the Sacraments into our process, to ensure that your quest for knowledge will also bring you closer to Jesus.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has a thorough explanation of the Sacrament of Confession (also known as Penance or Reconciliation). I urge you to read it here, but let’s discuss a few of the highlights. First of all, what is the point of the Sacrament of Confession?
Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion. (CCC 1422)
Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (CCC 1440)
Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.” (CCC 1441-1442)
The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible. (CCC 1455)
Second, why do we need it?
The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are: reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace; reconciliation with the Church; remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins; remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin; peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation; an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle. (CCC 1496)
Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church. (CCC 1497)
After reading what the Church teaches about this powerful sacrament, it should become clear why Confession is so important in your journey closer to Christ. It provides us with grace and unites us more closely with the Catholic Church. That close union will allow us to be more receptive to Church teaching and facilitate our learning process. The grace received will also help us to avoid sin and grow closer to the Lord. Try going to confession at least monthly and see what happens.
I think you’ll be pleased with the results!