"Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" --James 5:16
Human history clearly illustrates the painful reality of sin. We are all sinners, and need God’s mercy and forgiveness to become the best possible disciples of Christ. Personal sin destroys or injures the divine life God infused in us, wounds relationships within the Body of Christ (the Church) and fosters unhealthy attachments to created goods. However, Sin is never only a personal matter between the individual and God. What we do, good or evil, impacts the other members of God’s family and the world.
Fortunately, God wants to restore our relationship with Him. And, He has given us clear instructions on how we must repent: We must confess our sins (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9), we must repent and perform an act of sacrifice and penance (Luke 15:7,10; Revelation 2:5,16), we must use the intercession of a priest (Matthew 18:18; John 20:21-23).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, instituted by Christ, absolves sin in the manner required by God. Through ordination, priests are "configured" to Christ and are given the power to forgive sins in His name. The priest also represents the Church. There are 3 major parts of the Sacrament:
- Contrition is sorrow for the sin and the intention of sinning no more;
- Confession is the oral confession of sins to a priest;
- Reparation and Penance is needed to restore order (expiation), express a sincere desire to change (amendment of life), and rectify injuries done to others.
Catholics are obliged to confess their sins at least once a year. A Catholic aware of mortal sin should go to Confession as soon as possible, and before receiving Holy Communion. (Receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is called a "sacrilege," which is a sinful use of holy people, places, or things.) Many people find it helpful to grow spiritually by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, such as every 2 weeks or monthly.
A priest is bound to absolute secrecy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Nothing he hears can be repeated to anyone under any circumstances. He may not even reveal that a particular person has come to him in Confession. A priest may never testify in court about any matter dealing with a Confession. If a priest meets you outside of the Sacrament after you have received it from him, he cannot refer to anything that was heard in the Confession. Priests take this responsibility very seriously, and some priests have gone to jail rather than reveal what was heard in a Confession. The penalty for a priest breaking the seal of Confession is excommunication.
Preparation for the first reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation typically occurs with students in Grade 2. If you would like to prepare for First Reconciliation of an older child, or for more information on First Reconciliation, please call Ryann Goulet, the Director of Religious Education, at the Religious Education Office (847-437-3349) or send an email to RyannGoulet@qotr.org.
If you are an adult and you would like to prepare for first reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, please call or email Keith Strohm, the Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation, at 847-437-0403.
[Note: Portions of the description above were adapted from Forgiven – Understanding the Healing Power of Confession by Ignatius Press]