The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ himself, and then by the Catholic Church. It is also one of the two sacraments of healing.
Christ’s love is shown in the fact that he seeks the lost and heals the sick. That is why he gave us the sacraments of healing and restoration, in which we are freed from sin and strengthened in our physical and spiritual weakness. ] CCC 1420-1421]
Every one of us require healing. Sins are committed because of unfulfilled desire. And those desires are caused within us by the devil.
What is Sin?
When we give the position that is solely deserving of God, to anything else, we commit a sin. To put it in simple words, rather than looking at God, we turn away from Him.
We turn away from him because we find something too nice, beautiful, attractive, and worth giving the time for. This illusion and deception are caused by the devil. However, God knows our weakness and he knows that we as humans are very easily swayed away by the material fulfillment of life. Therefore, he always through time and eternity gives us ways and means to return back to him. In the old testament, we see God the father asking sinners to repent and as a penance offer sacrifices to realize the cost of their sins in the very material way possible. You see, material as we are, we can perceive things in a material way a lot better than spiritual ways.
When Jesus came among us, he instituted the sacrament of reconciliation with God and gave authority to the priests to forgive sins on his behalf. This is exactly what the sacrament is all about.
Jesus himself instituted the Sacrament of Penance when he showed himself to his apostles on Easter day and commanded them, ” Recieve the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” ( Jn 20: 22-23). [ CCC 1439,1485]
Very beautifully did Jesus describe the picture and all that happens in the Sacramnet of reconciliation through the parable of The Prodigal Son. We are all prodigal sons and daughters and what is required of us is to realize our sins and go back to our Heavenly Father to seek forgiveness. Our Heavenly Father, however, does not condemn us, but rather celebrates our return. He throws a party to mark the return of his child. He wipes away our tears and tells us how amazingly he loves us and that now we need not be ashamed of our sins anymore. He welcomes us and greets us with love and instills back the self-respect within us.
What is the prerequisite of having a valid confession?
In one word – Repentance. We need to repent if we seek forgiveness. The wounds caused by our sins to our souls cannot be merely addressed by psychological help or counseling. It requires to absolved. This is the work of the supernatural. This can only be done by God. The sacrament of reconciliation is God’s hand on our shoulders. It removes the guilt from us in ways which no medical science can. It is the pure burning love of our Heavenly Father for us. However, if we need to feel all of this through the sacrament of reconciliation, we must first repent and be sorry for our sins. We must resolve not to do the same sin again and sincerely work towards it. Only then will this sacrament show its true colors.
So, what should you do?
There are two things that you must do to receive this sacrament of reconciliation. Be honest and repent. Both of these points are two sides of the same coin. Unless we are honest and disclose each and every sin the way it is, without fabrication, the confession is not valid. It needs to be the blunt truth spoken. Secondly, once we resolve and make a list of these sins in an honest manner, we must repent and fall on our knees and desperately beg for forgiveness from God. Then move to the priest who then will forgive ALL our sins by the authority given to him by Jesus Christ himself.
We must remember this verse from the Gospel of St Mark.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous but the sinners ” Mk 2:17