Sunday, January 6, 2008

The "Other" Healing Sacrament

I received an email from a reader who said that when I mentioned the healing sacraments, I forgot to mention the "other" one, which is Reconciliation (formerly known as Penance.) Reconciliation is the sacrament we use to celebrate God's forgiveness of our sins and His infinite mercy.

I found a site by Fr. Patrick Unser that is a wonderful resource on Reconciliation. He wrote out exactly what to expect when receiving the sacrament, both in its private and communal forms and even includes a "cheat sheet" with the prayers you say.

There are some Catholics who either fear or avoid this sacrament. As a cradle Catholic, I remember being marched up to the church once a week to "say our Confession". A week may not seem like a long time in between confessing sins, but to our chagrin, if we claimed we didn't have any, our teachers would remind us of a few choice moments in the last week! This kept us honest.

In those days, the sacrament was a bit different, but the idea is the same. It's an opportunity to clean the slate (and it's emphasized to confess all your sins for that reason) but also to experience the infinite mercy that God has. Whenever I have this sacrament I always feel a sense of relief and a chance to make a new start. It's very healing.

I remember that Fr. O'Connor, who was our pastor in my youth, used to say to the children at the end of confession, after he gave us a penance (usually Hail Marys to say) the simple words "God loves you " and would insert our individual name. It was wonderful to hear that right after confessing something that was difficult to say.

So, dear reader, there you have it. The "Other" healing sacrament deserves a better rap.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining this. I've been going to church and no one else explained to me what the sacraments were. I was baptized in a different church and don't know if I would convert to be a Catholic but sometimes that seems like where I'm headed. Because of my disability I don't get to church that often so I'm not sure but the way you write about being a Catholic is pretty cool.


Ruth said...

Welcome to Wheelie Catholic- I hope you come back often. Glad this helped explain the sacrament. There are a few blogs by converts - check out Et Tu Jen for one and they talk about their spiritual journey. Sometimes when I tell stories about being a cradle Catholic I wonder if it's helpful or not to folks- so thanks for your comment.