Session Three (cont'd) - Follow Series
We all know how much it helps to offload to someone when we’re stressed, angry or upset. Somehow the presence of that other person just to listen, nod and affirm what we’re feeling makes a huge difference in being able to move on. God knew this – He wired us this way! – which is why Jesus empowered his apostles to continue his ministry of one-on-one healing through the Church.
“Jesus breathed on them (the apostles) and said “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever’s sins you forgive will be forgiven and whoever’s sins you retain will be retained.” – John 20:22-23
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as ‘confession’ or the ‘Sacrament of Penance’) is a powerful grace that renews and unburdens us, and is also an extremely cool tool to grow as a disciple of Christ. To sit with a priest and offload your sins – the parts of us that we work hard to keep hidden from everyone – can be a scary thing to do! But don’t worry; the benefits are definitely worth it and you'll feel awesome once it’s done.
PS: The word 'Sacrament' comes from the Latin for 'Sacred' and Greek for 'mystery' = a sacred mystery
The cool thing is it’s not just the priest you talk to when you go to Reconciliation. During confession, the priest is literally ‘being Jesus’ for you in that moment. So when you are being completely vulnerable, speaking your sins out loud to this other person, it’s really Jesus you are talking to. Jesus – who already knows you, loves you and wants to heal you! That’s why Reconciliation is a sacrament; just like in the other sacraments (eg Baptism or Eucharist) something supernatural happens!
Do I Need to?
Now you might be thinking; ‘If God already knows everything, why do I need to tell a priest my sins?’ That’s a great question. If God already knows everything, isn’t that like repeating ourselves? The truth is, Jesus doesn’t need us to tell him anything: we need to tell him! Confession is for US. It’s only when we face our junk and acknowledge it’s there – like the messy room – that Jesus can begin his healing in our hearts. If we close our eyes and ignore the things that ‘cripple’ us inside, we won’t be able to ‘get back on our feet’ and follow Jesus as He is calling us to.
"Those who are well have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick. I haven’t come to call the righteous, but sinners."– Mark 2:17
So yes, we can all definitely talk to God on our own and ask for forgiveness every day. He is listening! But there is something powerful about speaking out loud to a priest and hearing the words of ‘absolution’ that can’t be explained. God wired us to experience healing through other people, just like when Jesus was on earth.
- Absolution = the words the priest says at the end of confession in the name of Jesus: 'I absolve you from your sins'‘
Reflect - Messy Room
Imagine it is your house that Jesus has invited himself to. Imagine that, like in the 'Messy Room' video, in a mad-dash you throw everything that is messy into a room and close the door. Jesus stands outside the room that you want to keep hidden from him, and he asks you to let him in.
- What is in there?
- How do you feel when Jesus asks you to show him?
- Do you let him in?
- Is there something it would be good to confess/go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for?
Take some time to write your responses in a journal.
Putting It Into Practice
We really encourage you to go to confession sometime. You can do this!
If you are not a Catholic or don’t feel ready to go the sacrament of Reconciliation, just know you can always talk to a priest without having to ‘go to confession’, or make sure you ask your chaplain/minister for a chat to offload what’s on your chest and to pray with you.
If you are Catholic but haven’t been to Reco for a while, download our step-by-step ‘How-To Guide’ for Reconciliation, so you’re not in the dark about ‘what to say when’. It really helps! It also includes an Examination of Conscience which is a handy reflection tool to help you think about what to confess.
Where do I go?
Your school or university may have a chaplain available to talk to. Your local Catholic Parish may have a set time for Reconciliation, or you can just call up and make an appointment, like visiting the doctor. All you need to do is be yourself and be honest, let the priest know if you haven’t been in a long time, and ask him to walk you through it.
We'll see you on the other side!
Tash Mierendorf & Pat Keady (c) 2014 Ignite Youth