The Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered at St. Joan of Arc Parish every Saturday from 12:00pm – 12:30pm. Additional opportunities for the Sacrament are scheduled during Advent and Lenten seasons.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you!” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when He had said this He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:19-23)
One of the most appealing and beautiful aspects of the life of Jesus was His ministry of mercy. So often in the Gospels we find our Lord personally encountering sinners in the midst of their brokenness and offering them God’s forgiveness, words of consolation and sage advice on how the individual should proceed in the future. We recall Jesus’ meeting with the women at the well (cf John 4) who had been married and divorced several times. We remember Him sitting at table with tax collectors and sinner. We recall His wonderful parables about reconciliation and forgiveness – the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep, etc. In these instances and so many more, Jesus personally encountered those who had sinned, offering to them absolution, mercy and a challenge: “Go and sin no more!”
So important was this ministry of forgiveness that Jesus handed it on to the Apostles so that they could continue to provide personal encounters with the merciful Christ through their apostolic ministry. For examples, in Matthew 18:15ff, when teaching the Apostles how to handle a situation about one brother who sins against another, Jesus says to them, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And then, on the day of His Resurrection the Gospel of John (see above) tells us that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession by breathing His Spirit into them and pronouncing, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”
The Sacrament of Mercy, Confession, is a beautiful gift given Jesus Himself and therefore an integral part of being a Catholic, even today. Therefore, parishioners should attend the Sacrament regularly, especially when they have committed a serious or mortal sin. However, every parishioner should at least make worthy Confession twice each year in preparation for Christmas and Easter.
Regarding Confession, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1496) teaches that the spiritual effects of the Sacrament are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.