SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION

Life is hard.

Relationships are challenging.

We’ve all been hurt and have, in turn, hurt others. Think about who has wounded you, through word or action. And honestly ask yourself who you’ve wounded, intentionally or inadvertently.

We often forget that God dwells within each of us. Therefore, the times we’ve suffered at another’s hand, as well as the times we’ve inflicted pain on others - God experiences both.  God feels our pain and grieves over the wounds that keep us estranged and alienated.

If these wounds are not healed in the power of God, they become infected and begin to harden our hearts. This resentment and bitterness prevent us from loving and from being loved. Our wounds lock us in the past, where all we can see is our own pain. Just like a physical wound, if it isn’t healed, it can produce chronic pain and grave injury. Unhealed wounds also cause us to hurt others out of our own pain. What isn’t transformed (healed) is transmitted to others. This is what we refer to as “sin.” Whenever we are less than loving, when we engage in behavior that is self-focused and hurts others – that is sin.

However, when we do sin, as we inevitably do, God forgives us immediately. Those times when we miss the mark, God isn’t keeping score or “making us pay.” So, we don’t go to Reconciliation to get God to forgive us, but to be reconciled with Him. We receive the sacrament to celebrate the fact that we’ve already been forgiven and to go deeper into the mystery of God’s mercy. Reconciliation provides us the opportunity to express our regret and to say, “I’m sorry – what I did was hurtful.”

Unburdening ourselves in this way allows us to feel at peace with God and self, and in turn, we can then extend this gift to others. In doing so, we lift a burden from them as well. We also learn how to graciously accept forgiveness offered by another. There is an important symbiotic relationship inherent in this process – if we don’t forgive others, we block our own ability to experience God’s love, forgiveness, and healing. Unforgiveness holds both parties bound. Forgiveness offers spiritual and emotional freedom.

As you deepen your spiritual life, you’ll become more acutely aware of your sin. You’ll begin to notice times when you are less than loving in your daily interactions. The frequency of your sin will also be more apparent and you’ll begin to develop insight into the situations and issues that precipitate it. This new awareness will not cause you to beat yourself up or become overcome with guilt and shame. Instead, you’ll cry out in a heartfelt, healthy way, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Reconciliation provides us with an opportunity to do this. It isn’t about judgment and condemnation – it’s about mercy and forgiveness. God wants to care for you as a beloved daughter or son. Let Him love, forgive, and heal you! To prepare your heart for this, repeat this mantra often: 

“Lord Jesus have mercy on me –Open my heart to your healing and forgiveness.”