The Season of Advent challenges us to “prepare the way of the Lord” and to “make straight his paths.” The Sacrament of Penance is especially important as a way to bring order into our hearts and souls during this often bewildering year of 2020, when chaos seems to reign in the world around us.
Can God forgive my sins?
Yes! God can do anything, and He wants very much to show you His love and mercy. St. Paul teaches us, “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). The very reason God sent his only Son to live among us, to suffer and die for us and to rise from the dead was so that He could save us from sin and death. No matter what sins you have committed, and no matter how many times or for how many months or even years you have committed them, God can forgive you, and He wants to do so more than you can possibly imagine.
Why should I go to Confession?
In His kindness, God has not left us in the dark about how we are to have our sins forgiven. On the evening of the first Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ appeared to His apostles and said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And we read further in the Gospel according to John, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’” (Jn 20:21-23). Jesus entrusted the power of His forgiveness to His first priests, the apostles, and in turn to all of the bishops and priests of the Church who would follow after them. In the Sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation), known also as “confession”, priests share the gift of God’s forgiveness with those who are sorry for their sins and who are ready to confess those sins and live a new life.
Approaching a priest for confession can make a person kind of nervous. Priests also go to confession regularly, so they understand how you feel! But the Sacrament of Penance is about God’s love, His mercy, and the freedom that comes with knowing that your sins are forgiven. Many Catholics would undoubtedly agree that the most consoling words they ever hear in this life are those they hear near the end of their confessions, when the priest says, “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
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