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Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

-John 6:56


 

 

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Sacrament of Reconciliation

The parish has regular individual Confession each Saturday from 8:45 A.M. until 9:30 A.M. or by appointment. Call one of our priests to set an appointment time.

The parish also schedules two Parish Penance Services – one during Advent and one during Lent that includes communal prayer and Scripture with the opportunity for individual confession.

In Pope John Paul II’s words, “God does not close his heart to any of his children. He waits for them, goes to meet them at the place where their refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division. He calls them to gather about his table in the joy of the feast of forgiveness and reconciliation (#10, Apostiolic Exhortation.)

What does this really mean? Even though we turn away from God, he is always waiting to receive us back. The community is diminished without each one of us. Together we make up the body of Christ in the world.

Many of us remember vividly our own first experience with the sacrament – a darkened box-like space, fear that the priest would “tell our parents” or worse yet, yell at us so everyone would hear our sins. For many these fears have followed us into adulthood.

The word "repentance" in Latin and "metanoia" in Greek means a turning away from sinful attitudes, a change of heart, a conversion. In the early Church once a person accepted Christ and rose with him through the waters of Baptism, there was no turning back. But what happened if a person did commit a grave sin? He or she was expelled from the community until repentance was shown. In those early times penances were severe – ten years in the “order of penitents” was common. This meant that the individual who sinned could not receive the Eucharist, was separated from the community and received the aid of a sponsor who attested to the fact that the person had truly reformed. And this opportunity for reconciliation was afforded only once in a lifetime! It is no wonder people waited until they were near death to be baptized into the faith.

So how is it that we have the form of Reconciliation that we do today? European monks went to Ireland as missionaries and built monasteries that became centers of religious life for the community. They converted the clansfolk to Christianity, but found that living the life of a Christian was very difficult for these people. A new form of reconciliation came into practice. The monk would hear a person’s confession, give a penance to be performed and then come back to pray for the person’s forgiveness. There were three key features: the form of penance covered all sins, it was repeatable, and a private act of penance was substituted for the public ones of past eras.

The new form of the rite since Vatican II emphasizes the communal aspect of reconciliation, encourages the use of Scripture along with prescribed prayers and allows for flexibility.

Children learn about reconciliation in the home. We all learned that our parents loved us no matter what we did. We learned to admit wrong doing, express our sorrow at our actions, how it felt to be in a position of separation because of those actions, to accept responsibility for them and how good it felt to forgive or be forgiven.

Our world has many people who see themselves as unforgivable and are in despair. This sacrament reassures us of God’s love for each of us. We celebrate God’s mercy and it becomes a real force in our lives.

Our world hungers for community. Family life is under attack and needs our support. This sacrament celebrates a community that accepts each other as sinful – people who make mistakes and hurt one another – yet are able to say “I am sorry,” and forgive because of God’s love.