Sacrament of Reconciliation
By Doris Stanton

What do we do each day, after we have our first cup of coffee or tea or whatever we do upon rising, after we wipe the bleary eyes of sleep away, what is the first thing we do? We shower or bath. Why, to feel refreshed, clean of the sweat of the night and any unseen things that we may have attracted in our sleep, so we can start the day free from the debris of the passing night.

So why don't we do the same thing for our souls? It seems to me that if I were carrying around a lot of debris on my body and wanted to get rid of it, I'd take a shower and feel great. I'd do anything to get rid of the mud if I fell in a puddle. So why not for the soul? Why not take that spiritual shower, filled with the sprinkling of God's grace to begin life anew, full, whole and clean. Why not take the gift of mercy and forgiveness offered by God, Our Father, that wonderful healing gift of grace?

I don't know about any of you who receive this Sacrament regularly, but for me it is always a tremendous relief to go to Confession, Reconciliation or Penance whatever you like to call it, it is called all three. I feel so good, relieved and new I could do a dance. All that stuff that I have carried around is gone, no more to bother me, no more to bring me down, no more to cause me pain or confusion, I feel like doing something with myself. When I enter the Reconciliation Room I feel like I am carrying a 10-ton weight on my shoulders, guilt they call it, the burdens of even a perceived sin disturb me but they are removed by the grace of this Sacrament and freedom reigns in my heart, when I exit I am flying and as light as a feather.

I am asked all of the time by those who refuse to receive this awesome gift, "Why tell my sins to a mere man, he's only a man not God." Well I'll tell you why, for me that man represents my Lord, Jesus Christ. He represents the healing and guidance that I need to exist in this life that I can only get from God, Our Father, through His Son. The Priest is His presence during the ministering of this Sacrament just as he is during the consecration of Holy Mass. I'd go to a perfect stranger or a friend when overwhelmed enough and pour my heart out about anything good or bad and think nothing of it, so why wouldn't I do the same with my Father who loves me. What do I care what the Priest thinks of me. He's human too at all other times, capable of the same sins as I am during the daily routine of his life only he has to confess his sins to another Priest, tough thing when you are responsible for the care of the souls of others.

The Priest is the Presence of Jesus Christ, with full authority to forgive me, given to him by our Lord Himself on Easter night. After the Resurrection He gave the Apostles the authority with these words from the Gospel of John Chapter 20 verses 21-23; "peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when He had said this He breathed on them and said; "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever sins you forgive they are forgiven them, whoever's sins you retain, they are retained." Well, if they were given the authority from the Lord, what complaint do I have? I can't let my own embarrassment at my own stupidity keep me from the awesome gift of His love, mercy and forgiveness, through this sacrament, that would be even more stupid. God asks me to set aside my pride, to be humble enough to go to Him and say that I need help, that I have been a fool, that I am truly sorry for my foolishness and want and need His help to overcome my weaknesses, my pride and myself that's all. I can't do it without Him. The cowardice I feel is my own doing, the solution to healing me and strengthening me is God's through this Sacrament.

Our Lady has been calling us back to Her Son Jesus for many, many years. From Fatima to Lourdes, from Lourdes to Guadalupe, from Guadalupe to Betania to Medjugorje and many other apparition sights throughout the world She has been calling us to repent of our sinfulness, our pride, and our self-centeredness. She has been asking us to fast, pray, reconcile ourselves to the will of God and to receive Her Son in the Eucharist, so what are you waiting for! The universal call to holiness has been sent out throughout all the nations and peoples of this world. Today in these times of terrible trial, stress and testing of the human spirit wouldn't it be wonderful to be free of the garbage that holds us back from that call, wouldn't it be awesome to be prepared spiritually to meet our Lord face to face. We can be called home anytime, these times of struggle have shown us that, but we can also know that if it should be our time to go home to His love, we can do so cleansed from sin and say I love You and give thanks for His gift of love to us. It is His promise to us that if we believe in Him and His love we will be saved. In these words from the Gospel of John Chapter 3, verse 16, He makes that promise: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Believe in His love and accept His mercy through the grace of His forgiveness.

In any parish there are regular hours set aside for Confession or Penance, usually on Saturdays between 4 and 5 p.m. but you can also make an appointment to see a Priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation at any time you may need or decide to refresh your soul. By the way, it is not only for forgiveness from sin that we seek this special gift but also for council in times of need, times when we are not even sure if we have sinned to begin with, times when we have been away from the Church for many years and want to come back fully and freely. There's an old saying, I don't remember where it came from but I think it was from some old commercial that says; "Try it you'll like it." Jesus is waiting for you with open arms.

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