It’s an unfortunate reality that many Catholics do not take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation.
“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace….
The Sacraments that give sanctifying grace are Baptism and Penance….
because they take away sin, which is the death of the soul,
and give grace, which is its life.”
Baltimore Catechism #3 (Lesson 13)
Reasons for avoiding Reconciliation may vary, but the consequence is the same: a broken or severed relationship with God in our souls. To encourage you in your spiritual journey, here are four things you may not know about the Catholic Church’s Sacrament of Reconciliation:
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation Has 5 Titles
- The sacrament of CONVERSION, the first step in returning to the Merciful Father after we have strayed by sin. (CCC, 1423)
- The sacrament of PENANCE because it consecrates the Christian sinner’s steps of conversion. (CCC, 1423)
- The sacrament of CONFESSION, because the element of confessing one’s sins to a priest is an essential element. Confession also acknowledges and praises God’s mercy toward sinful man. (CCC, 1424)
- The sacrament of FORGIVENESS, since through the priest God grants pardon and peace. (CCC, 1424)
- The sacrament of RECONCILIATION because it imparts to the sinner the love of God. (CCC, 1424)
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Sacrament of Healing
The sacraments of healing are Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. What Anointing of the Sick does for the body, Reconciliation does for the soul, but more. Our bodies pass away, but the soul is eternal.
When our sins are forgiven in the confessional by a priest, we are restored to God’s grace. We are in an intimate friendship with Him. After the sacrament many people feel peace and spiritual consolation.
All sacraments communicate grace. But each sacrament confers a specific sacramental grace. When we make a good confession, the sin that wounds our soul is healed by our Divine Physician, Jesus Christ.
Further, not only are we healed spiritually, but grace fortifies us against sinning in the future. That is why frequent confession is so important.
A Good Confession Can Be Even More Powerful Than an Exorcism
Evil is not like an amorphous cloud. Satan is not a metaphor. The Bible and Catechism are clear on these points. Satan is a fallen angel that wants to snatch our souls from God, but cannot do it without an entry point in our lives and permission from God.
Popular exorcists are quick to point out that spiritual warfare serves to strengthen us and draw us closer to God. However we are warned in the Bible to avoid giving way to pagan and occult beliefs and practices. We are not to open ourselves up and give the enemy of our souls a foothold.
God has given His children all that is needed to get to heaven. Unfortunately not everyone uses what is available. As Catholics we have Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (the Sacred Deposit of Faith). We also have the Magisterium, or official teaching office, to guide the faithful.
Some of today’s exorcists allow their ministry to be known in the public arena. Examples include: Fr. Chad Ripperger, Fr. Vincent Lampert, Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, and Fr. Carlos Martins.
While they acknowledge the reality of the devil and diabolic manifestations, they are all quick to point out that the Power of God is Supreme. We need not fear, but trust in God and live a faith-filled Catholic life.
The majority of cases in which exorcists are contacted require no exorcism at all. The keys, they say, are having a prayer regimen (which may or may not include a Rule of Life), and frequent confession.
Why are a regimen of prayer, along with frequent confession, more powerful than an exorcism?
- Routine prayer keeps our lives centered on Jesus Christ.
- Confession breaks our attachment to sin and strengthens us to avoid near occasions of sin in the future.
The battle for our souls is not between two equal powers. God is the Creator and Satan is a creature. The power of the Cross of Christ has conquered sin and death.
Whole-Life Confession Can Assist You In Restoring Your Friendship With God
Catholics may have heard of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius but be unaware that his spiritual conversion included an in-depth whole-life confession. If you have been away from the Church, away from the sacrament of Reconciliation, or are looking to go deeper in your own conversion to God, this may be fruitful for you.
You can find more information about whole-life confession at The Spitzer Center. Also at the Sacred Story Institute, you can purchase The Whole-Life Confession: Four Weeks of Awakening To Mercy, Healing and Peace. This book contains preparation and prayer, written and spiritual exercises, and meditations to lead you to your own whole-life confession.
Catholic Radio Can Assist You In Reconciliation
Programs on The Station of the Cross regularly speak about the sacraments, especially Reconciliation. Programs like The Terry and Jesse Show, Jesus 911, and The Spirit World are particularly relevant.
In addition to the radio, you can listen online and also search for podcasts about this topic. Don’t forget to download the iCatholicRadio app and listen at your convenience.