Here is what Pope Francis recently said about the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other. While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the centre and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.
He followed up that teaching by giving us an example:
What a beautiful invitation for all of us! We hope you will join us at the Penitential Service that we will be celebrating Thursday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. At that service, we reflect together on how we as individuals, but also as a parish community stand in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. As a community, we will celebrate God’s unmerited grace and forgiveness. It is a beautiful way of preparing for Easter. The communal Penitential Service prepares us to celebrate the saving mystery of God’s forgiveness in a more personal or individual way in individual confession. Four priests will join Fr. Dan immediately after the penitential service to hear private confessions for those who choose to avail themselves of this grace-filled Sacrament.