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Penance

There are four steps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

  1. We feel contrition for our sins and a conversion of heart to change our ways.
  2. We confess our sins and human sinfulness to a priest.
  3. We receive and accept forgiveness (absolution) and are absolved of our sins.
  4. We celebrate God’s everlasting love for us and commit to live out a Christian life.

Sin hurts our relationship with God, ourselves and others. As the Catechism states:

The sinner wounds God’s honor and love, his own human dignity…and the spiritual well-being of the Church, of which each Christian ought to be a living stone. To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for the sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world. (CCC 1487, 1488)

A mature understanding of sin includes reflecting upon our thoughts, actions and omissions as well as examining the patterns of sin that may arise in our lives. With contrite hearts, we are also called to reflect upon the effects of our sins upon the wider community and how we might participate in sinful systems.

Contrition and conversion lead us to seek a forgiveness for our sins so as to repair damaged relationships with God, self, and others. We believe that only ordained priests have the faculty of absolving sins from the authority of the Church in the name of Jesus Christ (CCC 1495). Our sins are forgiven by God, through the priest.

The Spiritual effects of the Sacraments of Reconciliation include:

  • 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 confession with a priest is the principal means of absolution and reconciliation of grave sins within the Church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation frees us from sinful patterns of behavior and calls us to complete conversion to Christ. Reconciliation heals our sins and repairs our relationships.

Explore much more about the Sacrament of Reconciliation from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at usccb.org/confession.

 

This is the Sacrament in which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven. It results in reconciliation with God and the Church. (US Catholic Catechism for Adults, Glossary)

 

 

Where is the sacrament of confession in the Bible?

As soon as Jesus rose from the dead and earned salvation for us, he brought his apostles a new gift. After speaking peace to them, he said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (John 20:21). Just as Jesus was sent by the Father to reconcile the world to God, Jesus sent the apostles to continue his mission.

Jesus then breathed on the apostles. This is a verse that is often passed over, but it has extraordinary significance because it is only the second time in all of Scripture where God breathes on anyone. The other instance was at the moment of creation, when God breathed his own life into the nostrils of Adam. This should tell us that something of great importance is taking place. Upon doing this, Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22–23). source: catholic.com

 

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