Director of Faith & Religious Studies

The Sacrament of Reconciliation
As our College Liturgical Calendar commences for Term 1 and the lead up to the Liturgical season of Lent is only a few weeks away, it is an appropriate time that we celebrate with our students the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

For many Catholics, especially of the “older generation”, the sacrament is a treasure. This may appear to be an odd thing to say, however, if we delve further into the gift that this sacrament provides, then it is only fitting that we use such a word to describe the richness that this sacrament can give us.

The peace of mind and of soul which this sacrament imparts to us is one for which there is no substitute. It is a peace that flows from certainty, rather than from unsure hope, that our sins have been forgiven and that we are right with God. Yet paradoxically, it is a sacrament that is not overly frequented.

Some Catholics fear it. Telling or confessing their ‘sins’ to a priest and asking for God’s forgiveness can appear to cause trepidation and anxiety. “Will I be judged?”  “It has been such a long time since my last confession, I don’t feel comfortable” “I am not sure what I am going to say” Sometimes the fear and apprehension come from a misconception of what the sacrament really is.

The sacrament of Reconciliation is also known as Penance and Confession, among other names. (There is an explanation of some of these names in the Catholic Catechisms section on the Sacrament of Reconciliation).  Although often called Reconciliation in common usage, the term “penance” best describes the essential interior disposition required for this sacrament.

In fact, there is a virtue of penance. This is a virtue by which we are moved to confess our sins from a motive made known by faith, and with an accompanying purpose of placing ourselves in right relationship with God and making satisfaction for our sins. In this sense the word “penance” is synonymous with “penitence” or “repentance.”