Our Lady of Guadalupe offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation every Saturday from 9:00 – 10:00 AM.
For First Reconciliation information for Children, please click here.
The sacrament of penance and reconciliation, or confession, is a sacrament of healing, besides the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Keep in mind that the priest is bound under the seal of confession for everything you say. Leave all the burdens you carry in your heart there – don’t take them back home! Remember in God’s eyes all of us are sinners and all of us need God’s compassion, mercy, and endless love.
Afraid of Confession?
Often, the first feeling which comes one someone has the slightest idea to go for confession is fear. We began to feel uncomfortable, a bit nervous about it. At times we even debate if we should go or not. The hardest thing to do is to tell someone else about our own weaknesses and faults. Opening our hearts is not easy.
“Do not be afraid” we hear over and over again when an epiphany, God’s revelation is about to happen. DO NOT BE AFRAID, have the courage to go in, find Jesus, be forgiven, and move on with peace, and joy in your heart. You will find Jesus there too! God will be smiling seeing you getting out of the church lighter, without the burden of sins – that’s the reason He came down on earth, to tell us He is ready to forgive doesn’t matter what, to tell us that we are so valuable and lovable that He is ready to die on the cross for you and me!
Why Should I confess?
When something is going wrong in our lives, we tend to think that is our own problem and nobody’s else business. Indirectly or often directly our wrong-doing affects, besides ourselves, other people, plus God. First we should realize that sin is a matter of relationship.
“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.'” (Lk 5:18)
As long as we live, we will hear in the inner silence of our hearts an inner voice: the voice of our conscience. From a Christian point of view, this reality exists from the very dawn of creation: the sin of disobedience of Adam and Eve is just a biblical example of this reality. As this story reveals, sin is not only a matter of disobedience, conscience or consequences. First of all, this biblical story shows that sin is a matter of relationship because it affects our relationship with God and with those who surround us.
For centuries the concepts of sin and reconciliation varied. ‘Sinners’ were not allowed to share in Eucharist because they excluded themselves from this. Returning to God was always a matter and a response of our freedom and conscience: the early Church provided a common public penance because sin was seen as something which affects not only the person but the community as well.
In the first centuries, Christians had no other chance for forgiveness than baptism. Baptism was seen mainly as a washing away of sin. But what happens after baptism? Reconciliation appeared later but only once in a lifetime. Confession is not a repetition of baptism because conversion, contrition, repentance or turning toward God is not once and for all. A perpetual repentance is fundamental for a Christian life (Rom 6:12-14; Eph 4:20-24; Col 3:1-17). The obligation that Catholic Christians confess their sins to a priest developed later and is plainly taught by many Fathers of the Church like St. Cyprian, Augustine, etc.
Forgiven and Reconciled
God desires our reconciliation. God cares for every person. No soul is to be lost (Mt 18:10-14; Lk 15:3-7). In Jesus we have the example of reconciliation not only one time in our life, but “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21). Often, Jesus indicated his authority and willingness to forgive sins (Lk 5:18-26; 7:36-50). A clue for the institution of the sacrament of penance and reconciliation entrusted to the apostles may be found in John’s gospel: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you re-tain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22-23).
Jesus gave to the Church the power to bind and loose, and the Church used this divine power to forgive and reconcile us, as sinners, to God (Mt 16:15-19; 18:15-18; Jn 20:22-23; 2 Cor 2:5-11).
Sin: Offense against God and Neighbor
After Vatican II the term “penance” was preferred instead “confession.” Sin is seen not only as an offense against God but also an offense against our neighbor; this sacrament, therefore, is a reconciliation with God and with the Church as well. For this reason the sacrament of penance may be administered in three ways: individual confession, common celebration of reconciliation with individual confession (which shows better the communal aspect of sin), and communal reconciliation with collective absolution – the last one celebrated in special circumstances.
We are a people in need
We, as God’s people, are a community of repentance and reconciliation, always in need for renewal. The sacrament of penance is nothing but healing, forgiving, reconciling; through it we become again God’s children and our communion with God and community is renewed. The desire for confessing to, and receiving absolution from, a priest comes also from our human needs: we need to hear the words of forgiveness, thus to be in peace with our conscience. This sacrament gives peace and serenity of conscience, a great consolation of our soul.
For receiving this sacrament we have to have a self-examination, contrition, confession of sins, a firm determination to avoid future sin, satisfaction on the part of the penitent, and absolution from the priest. Absolution means a total forgiveness of sin, a wiping out of sin.
Joy: Fruit of Confession and Conversion
Joy is the word we see over and over again in Luke’s gospel, the gospel of mercy and forgiveness. Here joy appears whenever somebody converts. A good example is the story of the prodigal son: he decided to return to his father, but even before he had the chance to confess his mistakes his father had hugged him and was ordering his servants to prepare a great banquet for his son has been almost ‘dead’ and now was alive again.
God is Loving Parent
The father recognized the pain of his son, a pain caused by the son himself. He was not interested in issuing moralizing principles; all that the father recognized was that his son needed his love. This is an outstanding picture for God as a parent who wants the best for his beloved child, of a God who loves us so much that he would even allow himself to be made a fool of. Here, God is a loving parent. We do not see God getting angry because of the mistakes of his son. God recognizes that he should not issue a great punishment, for sin is its own punishment. Sin brings us loneliness and alienation: we keep choosing things that we think will make us happy but which they only cover the deeper pain that never goes away. It is only when we recognize that pain, raising it up to the Lord, that the Lord can respond to our need. It is not that God holds himself back until then, it is our problem, not God’s. God would love to love us but he is not going to force himself on us and on our free will. So, God waits on the hill like the father of the prodigal son, hoping, praying, gently calling out our names in the hope that we are coming to our senses and come home for God is waiting to greet us with open arms.
Why Should I confess?
Because in the confessional I will find Jesus; because recognizing the need for forgiveness I recognize the need for a Savior, Jesus; because I need to know that I am forgiven, otherwise I will never have real peace, hope and joy; because I recognize my mistakes and with God’s help I hope I can do better tomorrow; because confession will really help me become a better Christian, friend, husband, wife, child of God!
Is anyone without sin? The more I recognize that I am a sinner, the more I need Jesus in my life. Otherwise, if I am “Mr. Right” why do I need Jesus? At this point, who can say they do not need to hear these wonderful words, “I have forgiven you, I love you, go in peace and sin no more?” Who does not need forgiveness? We cannot be real Christians if we do not practice the sacrament of reconciliation. There we meet God, his mercy and love. From this sacrament, when we hear the words of reconciliation, we fill our hearts with peace, mercy and love.
“May God, the Father of mercies, who through the death and resurrection of his Son reconciled the world to himself and poured forth the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins, grant you through the ministry of the Church 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.”
Today fewer and fewer people approach this sacrament. Is this because Christians do not want to be reconciled to God? No. Many of us want to be reconciled, but we forgot the role and the importance of this sacrament. We do not have to forget that even if we turn away from God, through sin, God never turns away from us. Through the Church God offers His reconciliation.
The gospel of Luke tells us that the prodigal son did not return to the father because of his repentance but because he was hungry. He realized that he has a father, then he turned back. Our reconciliation with God is a matter of seeing that we are His children and we cannot survive by our own in this world of darkness and sin. The sacrament of reconcilia-tion is a vital one: our return to God’s love relies in our power to answer like the prodigal son,
“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you […] But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. […]… for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.” (Lk 15: 18:20-24)