This is the second sacrament that we receive, usually at the age of seven or eight. It is a sacrament about healing, through the power of God to forgive sins. In scripture we read that Jesus teaches that there are two fundamental commandments which are central to the Christian faith – that we should love God and love one another. All his other teaching flows from this.
Many of us will have memories of attending regular confessions in the past, indeed weekly or certainly monthly confessions was the norm at one time.
Even though the Sacrament of Penance is about healing, reconciliation and forgiveness, it is often elicits a strong negative response from some people. Sadly, the majority of people today have given up the practice of confession of sin, yet more people partake of the Eucharist. Penance should be seen, not as punishment for sin but rather as an invitation to receive God’s grace. There are countless moments of encounter with God in the Gospels where those involved received mercy for what they confess:
- Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19 1-10)
- The woman at the well (John 4: 1-30)
- The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)
- The woman in Adultery (John 8: 1-11)
God invites us to encounter him in the Sacrament of Penance through confessing the wrong we have done, by asking for forgiveness and in celebrating his forgiveness. It could be easy today to conclude that Confessions is a ‘one off thing,’ only celebrated by children in advance of the First Holy Communion. The Sacrament of Penance is an opportunity for all of us to have an encounter with God at this very deep level. Perhaps today, the biggest difficulty with this sacrament is in our understanding of sin. If we don’t believe in sin, then we dint feel the need to confess. Please avail of the opportunity to encounter God in this moment of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness.