The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Sorry is a very powerful word. When we have been in the wrong and we say sorry, it is often the beginning of a healing process. When we feel we are not in the wrong but nevertheless say sorry, perhaps for getting angry, it is often the encouragement the other person needs to begin feeling sorry themselves. Equally powerful are the words, I forgive you. But they have to be said out loud, and often they are more powerful when accompanied by a gesture, perhaps a kiss or a handshake, or maybe a gift. We human beings communicate through our senses.

God knows that. He made us that way on purpose. So although God does not need visible or tangible signs to express Himself, He knows that we do. That is why he gave us the sacraments, outward signs of inward graces, so that we can experience through our senses the life-giving encounter with God at various significant moments in our spiritual lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is God's way of allowing us to admit that we are sinners, and to experience his forgiveness "through the ministry of the church". We may not be great sinners - or at least, not all the time! - but we are sinners. We need to admit that from time to time, and we need to seek God's help in our effort to overcome even those daily faults which, though not major in themselves, can do such damage to our relationships.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great gift to the Church, instituted by Jesus when he said to his apostles, "whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven (John 20:23). It is the indispensable remedy when we have committed a mortal sin (in more contemporary parlance, "when we've messed up big time"!), but we are also encouraged to use it on a regular basis to seek the grace we need to overcome even our less heinous faults, because every sin harms our relationship with God and with each other.

At St. Augustine's, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available for individuals each Saturday from 10.30 until 11.30 a.m. and from 4.30 until 5.15 p.m. Or you can make an appointment with one of the priests to celebrate the Sacrament at a mutually convenient time. Twice a year (on Palm Sunday and on the 4th Sunday of Advent) we have a Service of Reconciliation when the Sacrament is celebrated in a community setting.