“Confessing to a priest is a way of putting my life into the hands and heart of someone else, someone who in that moment acts in the name of Jesus. It’s a way to be real and authentic: we face the facts by looking at another person and not in the mirror.” Pope Francis
Many of us regret things we have done or failed to do, words we have said or thoughts we have harbored. These things, we are oftentimes, too embarrassed or ashamed to admit.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the opportunity to express our sorrow for our sins and to become reconciled in our relationship with God. It provides spiritual healing as well as the grace to do the work necessary to mend relationships that have been damaged by our sins. It helps us to forgive; for once we are forgiven we are able to forgive others more easily. It strengthens our resolve to resist sinful patterns in our lives.
Confession is above all a place of healing, not a place of judgment or punishment. When we confess our sins to a priest in the confidentiality of the confessional, we experience healing and liberation, discovering again and again how much we are loved by God, how precious we are to Him, and how great is our dignity as His children. Once he had heard our confession, the priest says the words of absolution for our sins:
“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
What the penitent makes known to the priest remains “sealed” because the confidentiality of confession is absolute. Nothing said by the penitent in confession will ever be repeated. This is an experience of mercy and reconciliation, where we can lay down the burden and shame of that sin we carry with us. No matter what we think of ourselves, we can still be certain that God forgives us, loves us and wants only to heal us.
To see Saint James’ confession schedule, click here.