The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for our spiritual healing. According to the Gospels, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23) The reason for this sacrament is to heal our spiritual wounds, which we call sin.
Forgiveness and Reconciliation:
A very popular question asked is, “why must I go to a priest for confession; can’t I simply pray to God for forgiveness?” The answer to this question is a great way of getting to the heart of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
First, consider the damaging effect of sin, especially how it can destroy our relationship with God. In Baptism, Our Father gives us all the grace we need to live a good life. Sin is a rejection of that grace. This kind of offence requires special attention. A Sacrament that is damaged by sin can only be renewed by another Sacrament.
Forgiveness is the predisposition of God towards all His children. In His love we can be sure that He will always be merciful, and forgiving to us when we are sorry. At the same time His justice makes it impossible to ignore sins committed and demands that some sort of reparation be made.
Reconciliation is the process by which we are restored to friendship with God. Not only does the Sacrament provide us with a formula by which our sins are forgiven, it also provides a means of repairing our damaged relationship with God. In confessing our sins before a priest we are making a concrete effort to express sorrow for our sins and a desire to be right with God. The priest can then abolish those sins so that we never need to carry guilt or shame for them ever again.