Reconciliation (Confession)

During his earthly life Jesus forgave sins. He reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God.  He received sinners at his table, symbolizing God’s forgiveness to repentant sinners. Only God forgives sins (Mk 2:7). Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5, 10, Lk 7:48).  Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name (Jn. 20: 21:23, CCC 1441). That is historically realized in the sacrament of reconciliation. For long it was called sacrament of penance when the emphasis was laid on doing penance. Since the Church now understands sin as a breach of relationship, this sacrament is appropriately called sacrament of reconciliation. It calls for and effects reconciliation with God, others, nature and oneself.

The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance 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).

In order to make truthful confession, one has to be repentant of his/her sins. Conversion which is equal to genuine repentance is the most important requirement for receiving this sacrament. In the true sense, receiving this sacrament makes a person to confess praises. The ultimate emphasis is not on the confession of sins but on the confession of praises for God’s “holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man” (CCC 1424). At the end, therefore, confession is a joyful experience: the joy of being forgiven by God.

Back to top