The Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Great Gift of God’s Love & Mercy
By Deacon Rich
Lent is the time when we examine our lives in terms of our relationship with
Jesus. Like Jesus in the dessert when he examined his life in lite of his
relationship with the Father so too are we called to do the same. This is the time
we take stock of our lives and sinfulness. This is the time to reflect upon the good
that God has done for us and to be thankful for the great gift of love and mercy
that he has given to us.
While many of us do rather well during Lent in terms of reflection, prayer and
alms giving we often either refrain from or miss the most important element. That
being seeking out and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the
means by which we are freed from our sins and readies us to receive the
Eucharist in proper disposition. To be honest I am saddened by how people have
fallen away from Reconsolidation. The lines at Communion are long but short at
Scripture is very clear that we are to receive the body and blood of Jesus in the
purist of heart and disposition. That means we are to be free of sin. If we truly
accept the Eucharist as the body and blood of Jesus Christ (which it is) and we
know and belief in his perfection then to receive him in other than a pure state
diminishes and trivializes the meaning of the Eucharist: the greatest of
I often here things like” “Deacon I don’t have to go to confession because I
confess my sins to God privately: why would I tell my sins to another especially a
Priest who I think needs confession himself: I don’t get anything out of it: I feel
like I am in grade school when I do it” and the litany goes on.
First in our Faith and Tradition we understand from the Scriptures the Sacrament
of Reconciliation was given to us directly from Jesus to his Apostles. Jesus told
them when he laid his hands on them and when they were empowered by the
Holy Spirit “whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you bind will be
bound” From the Apostles to the Priests today this ability to be forgiven of sins by
the Priest through the intercession of the Holy Spirit is a sacred tenant of our
Faith. So regardless of what you hear remember to be truly forgiven of your sins
and to receive the Eucharist in the proper disposition (and the manner in which
Jesus intended) is to be a recipient of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
OK now that we have addressed it from the Faith and theological perspective
let’s not forget the cleansing, cathartic and positive psychological affect the
Sacrament can have on is. Have you ever been in a situation where you are
struggling with a life issue and/or concern? You know something that is unsettling
to you? When you sought out advice or just the ability to speak with someone did
it make you feel better? I bet it did. So too then is the experience with
Reconciliation. To have the Priest give you absolution via the power of the Holy
Spirit is truly a life altering and grace filled event. You are fee from sin and now
become the perfect temple to receive Jesus.
In regards to my earlier comment about people who say going to Confession is
like “when I was in grade school” well I can say I can’t blame them. Unfortunately
for many of us who learned our approach to the Sacrament as a little kid still
understand it to be in the same fashion. You know “bless me Fr. for I have
sinned: I cursed three times this week”!! Well am I right! We learned to approach
confession as a kid the way a kid is capable of learning and that is a good thing.
Sadly for many it is still the same! Any wonder then why receipt of the Sacrament
has waned. In retrospect the Church could have done a better job in transitioning
folks from the child construct to how an adult should approach the Sacrament
My suggestion is you begin to approach Reconsolidation as an adult-oriented
mindset. In essence this means having a conversation with the Priest based on
an Examination of Conscience. OK what do I mean by this examination? Well we
go to confession in order to be freed from sin. While we have Minor (venial) sins
and Major (mortal) sins it is the latter that is the culprit although we should not
take venial sins lightly as these can lead to a propensity to commit mortal sins.
Sin distances us from the intimate relationship we were destined to have with
Jesus. So where do we start. How about examining how our lives stack up
against the Ten Commandments: the Law from God given to us for all ages. If we
examine our lives against The Commandments then we can be true
and honest with ourselves in how we fare in our relationship with God.
As for seeking out the Priest where you believe to be most comfortable,
remember it is not about the “personality or disposition” of the Priest rather
his Apostolic authority thru Ordination and the intersession of the Holy Spirit
to grant absolution. That said we can’t escape the human encounter/experience.
In that context seek out the Sacrament from different Priests until you
encounter one that is most satisfying to you. Yet remember is
not about personality or disposition rather the Priest’s authority to grant absolution.
So here is a guide and an exercise you may want to try. I use it when I prepare
for Reconciliation and find that by using it my experience in the confessional
(although I routinely confess with my Spiritual Director face to face and highly
suggest you try it) is profound.
I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me
Have I reduced God to a thing that I seek to manipulate or control?
Have I valued any finite thing or reality above and beyond my relationship
Have I participated in “superstitious” practices such as astrology, magic
fortune telling etc.?
Commandment # 2
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Do I give God reverence by honoring his name? Have I treated holy things
with contempt or indifference?
Have I reduced the dignity of the name of God or the Saints by using their
names in a profane, cursing or demeaning way?
Do I needlessly swear in the name of God?
Commandment # 3
Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day
Have I attended Mass on Sunday and on Holy Days?
Do I participate in corporal works of mercy?
Do I spend time contemplating on my life and its relationship with God?
Commandment # 4
Honor your Father & Mother
Have I contributed to the well-being of my parents?
Am I just and honest in relationship to my parents?
Commandment # 5
You shall not kill
Have I done violence to others by participating in physical or emotional
brutality or consciously leading others to sin and violence?
Have I damaged the reputation or livelihood of another person through
gossip or false accusation?
Have I willfully disregarded the sanctity of human life from conception to
natural death by using contraceptives, abortifacients, procuring or
assisting in an abortion or supporting euthanasia?
Have I committed murder?
Commandment # 6
You shall not commit adultery
Have I sought sexual gratification outside the sacrament of marriage?
Do I live out my married life with fidelity to my spouse?
Have I demeaned the sacrament of marriage through lust of an individual
for my pleasure including pornography?
Have I had sexual encounters outside the bond of marriage?
Commandment # 7
You shall not steal
Have I deliberately taken another person’s property?
Have I refused to compensate for a loss caused by me?
Have I fairly compensated others for goods or services that I have
Commandment # 8
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
Have I lied or withheld the truth for my own personal gain?
Have I misrepresented the character or reputation of another person?
Have I intentionally lead others to believe something about the Church’s
teaching or practices that are not true?
Commandment # 9
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
Have I intentionally objectified another person as a means towards my
own sexual gratification?
Have I sought sexual relations with someone outside of my marriage?
Have I ever entered into relationships that has the potential to endanger
either my or another person’s marriage?
Commandment # 10
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
Have I allowed my life to be consumed and controlled by material goods?
Have I been preoccupied with envy of another person’s success?
Have I taken pleasure in the misfortune of others?
Do material goods and money dominate my life to the detriment to my
relationship with God?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great gift from God. Just think about it for a
second? How often does your family forgive you? How often do your friends
forgive you: How often do your coworkers for give you? See my point? Yet the
God of the Universe who wants for nothing can forgive you so you can regain
that intimate relationship (that he so desires) with him! Now if that is not
awesome then I don’t know what is! So seek out the Sacrament: refresh your
soul and prepare to receive Jesus in the purest of heart
Have a blessed and joy-filled Easter. May the peace, joy and love of the
RISEN Lord be with you.
A Perspective on the Transfiguration
By Deacon Rich
Much of the Scriptures during Lent zeros in on the Biblical lives of Peter, James, and John. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 2 calls them the “pillars of the faith”. Our Savior called twelve disciples to be His Apostles. Out of those twelve, he was especially close to these three. And out of these three, John was soon to be called “the Disciple whom Jesus loved.” We learned the decision to call certain people to be His Apostles was preceded by prayer – something we, too, should do on a regular basis! We also learned that He saw all people as just that, individual people with individual needs and special/unique gifts. Similar accounts of the Transfiguration appear in each of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Each Evangelist tells it from his viewpoint and what he particularly wanted to emphasize. Let’s see what we learn from each one.
Like Sgt. Friday in “Dragnet” of old, Matthew, who appeals mainly to his Jewish hearers, tells the story of Jesus’ transfiguration. He gives us the basic facts:
- “6 days” (Luke says “8 days”) – basically the number of days between Sabbaths depending upon what was your first day of reference
- The 3 pillars – Peter, James, and John – are by themselves with the Lord Jesus.
- Jesus was “transfigured” – the word in the Greek is “metamorphosed” – the same word used when a butterfly comes out of a cocoon. See 2 Cor. 5:17 where we become new creatures. See Romans 12:1,2 – the word “transformed” is the same word as here written “transfigured”.
- The clothes were as white as light
- There were Moses and Elijah
- Peter opens his mouth “to change feet”, as it were – he always talked before he thought!
- The voice of the Father giving His pronouncement of blessing upon His Son
- Seeing Jesus (v, 8) – in His glory is to be their “norm of life.”
Mark writes his gospel from a servant’s perspective, so we should expect the references to our Savior to involve service.
In his account on the transfiguration, he says basically the same facts as Matthew.
However, he does add some interesting details about our Savior’s transfigured appearance:
“Shining” – brighter than lightning!
“white” – like snow. This should remind us of Isaiah 1:18, where when we respond to our Savior’s invitation, we are as “white as snow.” And it is said of those who are the martyred in of the Book of Revelation, that their clothes are white – just like their Savior.
“Launderer” – a fitting description of Someone Who is coming to serve
Like Matthew and Mark, Luke, too, tells the facts of the transfiguration. But Luke is a doctor, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he gives us some descriptive details that are not in the other two gospels.
Luke zeroes in on the conversation between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. What did they talk about? What would we think they would talk about: the desert: the chariots: the Miami Dolphins? No, they talked about the cross, and of Jesus’ upcoming death for sinners. This is what we are to glory in (Galatians 6:14).
What moved these three the most about what they saw? How can we find out? By checking the Scriptures! John’s Book of Revelation is a testament to Jesus’ glory. By the time John wrote Revelation, James had been martyred and was in glory. And Peter gives us some insightful remarks as to how the transfiguration affected him: 2 Peter 1:16-18 tells us that the Transfiguration affirmed to Peter’s soul the uniqueness of Jesus alone, and the trustworthiness of the Scriptures.
Do we have that faith? Do we have that trust? We must answer those questions for ourselves!
“Be a friend. Be a friend of Jesus. Make friends for Jesus.” -Bishop Zubik
Opportunity is everywhere to “be a friend, be a friend of Jesus, and make friends for Jesus,” as Bishop Zubik says. Evangelization is about friendship and accompaniment.
The Brookline-Beechview Catholic Church Cluster seeks to be a welcoming community for all. Our parishes are full of faithful and close-knit people. We are generous with our time, talent, and treasure and we work to help each other.
Our parishes have:
- Dedicated priests, deacons, lay ministers, and staff who love the Lord and love the people they are called to serve. They work tirelessly to serve in whatever ways are asked or required.
- Established parishioners who have worshiped at St. Catherine of Siena, Resurrection, St. Pius X, and Our Lady of Loreto for years, and in many cases, generations. They have built and maintained ministries that serve our parishes and our communities.
- A growing young adult population that is passionate about living the faith and seeks ways to create community. They are stepping into leadership roles and creating and implementing ideas for the future of the Church.
- Have a growing Hispanic and Latino population that allows us to be a shared parish. They bless us with deep faith and vibrant worship. Their stories connect us to our past – we remember that many of our established parishioners were members of immigrant families. We seek to inspire the world by building understanding and unity in the love of God.
- Have the benefit of being located in two of Pittsburgh’s communities that have large youth populations. The youth contribute their gifts, give us opportunities to pass on the faith, and call us to greater discipleship.
We are encouraged about the future of the Church and know that our diversity is strength and a reason for hope. We are challenged and encouraged.
Diocesan resource: http://churchevangelizing.com/
To see upcoming events, visit the 4-Parish Calendar or News pages.
Want to talk? Have ideas? Contact Bridgette, the director of evangelization, at firstname.lastname@example.org or other staff via the Contact Us page.