A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘confession

Reading Psalm 32* the other day reminded me of the value of confession.

The psalmist tells us how he suffered under the weight of his sin:

When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away

through my groaning all day long. (v. 3)

And then he tells of God’s forgiveness when he confessed his sin:

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;

then you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah (v. 5)

Not for nothing is Psalm 32 subtitled “The Joy of Forgiveness” in the Revised Standard Version:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (v. 1)

So if we know that our sins will weigh on us, that God will forgive us when we repent of and confess them, and that his forgiveness will bring us joy, why wouldn’t we want to receive the sacrament of reconciliation more often?

The second precept of the Church,“You shall confess your sins at least once a year,” obliges us to receive the sacrament. But knowing that (as s. 2042 of the Catechism notes) reconciliation prepares us to receive the Eucharist, why would we limit ourselves to having our confession heard only once a year?

Why not take advantage of our parish’s regular scheduled times for reconciliation? Or if these just don’t fit into our schedule, why not find a church near our workplace or school or errand stops that offers a reconciliation time that does work?

If we think of reconciliation as something just for Lent, something we have to get through, or even something to dread, we’re forgetting about the joy of being forgiven and having a weight lifted from our shoulders, be it large or small. We’re forgetting that the priest isn’t there to judge us but to help us be reconciled to God.

I pray that we would make time for reconciliation not only during Lent, but also at other times of the year so that we may know the joy of God’s forgiveness and draw closer to him.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield at that moment, he had too much of its diviner property of Mercy in his breast, to have turned one feather’s weight of it against her.

– Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth

When children think of mercy, they might think of the game where one person tries to bend another’s wrists back until he or she cries, “Mercy!”

As adults, we know mercy is a gift that we don’t deserve but that God gives us out of love. The Catechism tells us in s. 270 that “God reveals his fatherly omnipotence…by his infinite mercy, for he displays his power at its height by freely forgiving sins.”

With the events of Holy Week still fresh in our minds, God’s love for and mercy toward us should be as plain as day. But as the Redemptorist priest speaking at my parish’s mission said, people may go to confession and receive absolution from a priest and yet find it hard to believe God could actually forgive them.

Since this will be the first Sunday after Easter, Catholics will mark Divine Mercy Sunday. If you are new to the Catholic Church, you can learn more by reading Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and visiting The Divine Mercy Message from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website.

As the site tells us, the message “is that God loves us—all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others.”

We need to grasp that truth: our sins may be great, but God’s mercy is greater. We can place our trust in God, who has told us (see Exodus 34:6) and shown us that he is merciful. And we in turn can show that mercy to others.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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