I rediscovered Reconciliation this last fall while attending NCYC with our parish youth. I was touched by the talk given by Mark Hart that focused on finding God’s Truth and not trying to hide our sins in the back room of our heart. God knows all our sin and delights in forgiving us. Needless to say after hearing this talk some of us literally ran to Reconciliation.
Before NCYC, I went to confession about once a year and I was only meeting a sense of duty that years of Catholic education had instilled. But I was missing something, and was never really getting to the real meaning of the Sacrament. After NCYC, Reconciliation helped me to find Truth. It took some practice to get to the point that I felt like I was being honest with myself and God about that back closet of my heart and I went to Reconciliation several weeks in a row in search of my truth. It is truly a gift to recognize your sin, admit it to God and then to have it completely wiped away from your heart. The wall that sin created between us was torn down, and I was more fully united with God. That means I talk to God more, I listen to God more and I trust God more completely. Each time I receive Reconciliation all these things continue to increase more than I could ever have imagined. The impact Reconciliation has on my life is seen in patience with my children, love toward everyone, gratitude, honesty, mercy, grace, forgiveness and list goes on. My life is much easier with God right beside me and not on the other side of a 10-foot wall that I built.
I imagine coming out of the confessional as innocent as a newborn baby with no sin marking my heart. This is how God wants us to return to heaven, as innocent as newborn baby. Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation will help our souls return to that state of innocence and allow us to reunite with God. Then when we sin again, because we are human, we can return to the Sacrament, be forgiven, and return to innocence. This Sacrament doesn't have an end, only many beginnings.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my faith journey with you. Wendy Mulert
The Sacraments in Scripture… Reconciliation - the hopefully never-needed Sacrament
In the early Church (50-300 A.D.), those who were held up as saints were almost all martyrs. They gave their lives for the faith and they saw the gift of Baptism as so profound that they would never sin again once they were baptized. In the midst of the persecution of the Church, some members denied their faith and then later wanted to return. Was it possible for this sin to be forgiven? Some said no and others said yes. This caused a fundamental reflection upon the Bible again to determine what Jesus said about the ongoing need for reconciliation. While Baptism wiped away all of our sins, it did not take away our ability to sin. When Jesus taught us the Our Father, he stated that being forgiven and forgiveness is a fundamental part of being a Christian (Matthew 6:12). Whereas we find at the end of the Gospel of Matthew the command to go out and baptize, Jesus’ reflection recorded near the end of the Gospel of John emphasizes the Church’s ability to forgive sins through the Apostles.
“[Jesus] said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’” (John 20:21-23).
Did the ability to forgive extend beyond the Apostles? Early on the Church, the ministry of the Apostles was extended to the bishops, and the priests were allowed to participate in this ministry as well. Jesus reflected upon the need for ministers to forgive and retain sins. The ability to enter into situations of darkness and bring the light of forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus’ resurrection spoke of a fundamental way of living life differently. While Jesus walked on this earth 2,000 years ago, Jesus was with us and his impact was limited. In his ability to overcome death, he extended his ability to forgive to others and he granted this gift often. Luke tells us,
“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them,’Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:45-47).
With reconciliation being such a fundamental aspect of all that Jesus taught, our Church recognized Jesus wasn’t a vindictive God who only gave one chance to get it right but a God who loves us with forgiveness over and over again!”