I am giving a talk on forgiveness to the youth group next week. In preparation for the talk I am reading, ‘Freedom and Forgiveness’ by Father Paul Farren. There were two things in the book that jumped out at me.
First, confession is an Easter Sacrament. Jesus instituted the sacrament of confession on the day of the Resurrection. Why is that important? It is important because in confession we receive the life of the Risen Lord. Sometime we can be so focus on our sins that we forget that we are encountering the Risen Lord. We are meant to receive new life in confession. If we go to confession only to ease our conscience than we can easily miss this encounter with the Risen Lord.
Father Farren writes, “When we think about the sacrament of Reconciliation our thoughts most often focus on ourselves and our sinfulness. The role of God is some sense might even appear secondary. However, the sacrament of Reconciliation is primarily that sacred place and moment when God confess. The primary confessor in the sacrament is God. What does God confess? God confess his love, his forgiveness, his gratitude, his confidence, his trust and his belief in us. It is God’s confession that enables us to confess.”
Second point that struck me, “It was the sacrament of forgiveness. if someone sinned after Baptism, forgiveness and reconciliation were obtained through prayer, fasting, almsgivings, and works of mercy. The prayer was of the individual but also of the community. which it was believed could bring healing. We read in James, ‘Therefore confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed.'(Jas 5:16)'” We are to pray for one another for healing. The prayers of the community has a part to play if we are to experience the forgiveness of sins.