Everyone gets sick at some point in their lives. This is a fact. And after we get sick, we need medicine to heal us. The same thing happens in the spiritual life. Sometimes we may ask ourselves, “Why do we need Reconciliation?” “Why do I need to tell a priest all of the things I did wrong?” Ultimately, we need reconciliation because we need to be healed spiritually.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, often called Confession, is essential in the life of the Church. As we know from what happens at baptism, we receive life-saving graces. However, these graces don’t completely fix us. We are still human and fail constantly to live up to the standard of the Christian life (CCC 1426).
Therefore, we constantly seek conversion. We must constantly turn ourselves away from sin and into the life of Christ. This extends beyond our baptism. St. Ambrose said of conversion that, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance” (CCC 1429). Thankfully, the Church helps us continue to live a life of holiness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. By going to confession, we receive graces to help us avoid sin in the future on our journey.
Oftentimes, we may wonder why we can’t just ask for forgiveness on our own. Because the forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation not only with God, but with the Church (CCC 1462). We must restore our relationship with God, but also with the Body of Christ, the Church. Pope Saint John Paul II says, “The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation” (CCC 1469). After reconciliation to creation, we can participate in the life of the Church to its fullest.
We also ask ourselves, “Why do I need a priest to forgive me when God will forgive me if I ask for it in prayer or out of pure contrition?” Because the priest is acting in as the person of Christ through the sacrament of Holy Orders. “The confessor is not the master of God’s forgiveness, but its servant” (CCC 1466). Jesus gave his apostles the ability to heal and forgive sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through apostolic succession, priests become the instruments of forgiveness and spiritual healing (CCC 1465). It can seem embarrassing to confess your sins to a priest, but under the sacramental seal of confession, the priest cannot under any circumstance reveal your sins (CCC 1467).
So, once we have confessed, received absolution, and completed our penance, we have right relationship with God and the Church, receive the forgiveness of all of our sins, and have spiritual healing. God wants us to be spiritually healthy and to be close to Him, so it is good to go to confession regularly. Check out a list of Confession times at St. Mary Immaculate, and know that God wants you to be in relationship with you, and that He loves you.