Participating in the sacrament of reconciliation has never been one of my favorite things to do. Although rarely, I have indeed heard a few individuals say they actually really like going to confession. Those people are wonderfully weird for a number of reasons, not just because they like confession. I, on the other hand, have never relished in the sacrament of reconciliation. I have been going to confession since I was a young lass and every time, I get nervous and anxious and my heart starts racing. There is something about verbalizing my greatest weaknesses to another human being that terrifies me. It is also in verbalizing our greatest weaknesses to another human being that can bring the most healing to our souls.
The sacrament of reconciliation is an implicit sacrament which means it was not explicitly put into practice by Jesus. This sacrament was discovered over time by our Church fathers. However, there are many scriptural references to the sacrament of reconciliation. Today’s first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel is one good reminder about the grace of confession.
“Thus says the Lord God: if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered.”
Reconciliation is about confessing our sins, our wrongdoings and those times that we turned our backs on the Lord. By going to confession, we turn away from all those evil things and we turn towards Christ. We are reconciled with God and we continue on our path, earnestly trying to live rightly and justly. At the end of our lives, if we have honestly loved God with all our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul, we know that we will live forever in the kingdom of heaven.
One of the most healing graces of confession is that “none of the crimes he committed shall be remembered.” When we allow ourselves to carry those burdens of sin and hopelessness around with us, we cannot glorify God properly. By going to confession, we can give those burdens to God and we can again glorify God with our lightened heart, mind and soul.
A few other scriptural references to reconciliation are Luke 15: 3; parables of sin and mercy. Mark 2 tells the story of the paralytic. Matthew 26 talks about binding and loosing of sins; “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
These scripture passages may speak different words but they all convey examples of confession. Confession is a sacrament of healing grace, an example of God’s unconditional love and profound mercy, and a practice that will bring us eternal life.
The season of Lent is probably the time of the Church year that I associate most with the sacrament of reconciliation. For me, Lent is a time to really think about my relationship with Jesus Christ. A time to ask myself where have I strayed? A time to realize that I need to turn back to Christ and away from my vices and my sins. At the end of Lent, if I have put forth an honest effort at repenting and turning away from my sins, I feel the healing grace of the sacrifice of Christ. Much like during confession, if I honestly confess all of my sins, I feel the healing grace of the sacrifice of Christ.
I always feel so light when I exit confession. I feel renewed in my faith, I feel whole again, and I am filled with hope. Participating in the sacrament of reconciliation is definitely worth the feelings of unworthiness, hopelessness, fear, and shame that might accompany me before entering confession.
If you have not gone to confession in a while, I encourage you to go and to receive the healing power of grace. Allow God’s mercy to transform your heart, your mind and your soul. Allow this season of Lent to penetrate the darkness that might be in your life. Open your heart to the bright love that Christ Jesus wants to share with you. You will be renewed with the Holy Spirit.