Tracts by Fr. Tran

"Do I really have to go to confession? Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Etc.”
These are questions that I’m sure many of us have wrestled with (including myself!), concerning the sacrament of reconciliation. Fear, intimidation, shame, judgment, etc. are words that are often associated with confession, which is quite unfortunate.. This sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is probably one of the most misunderstood, yet beautiful gifts to the Church given by the Lord, and the words that really should be associated with this sacrament should be more in line with healing, restoration, mercy, etc.

Take for example, that this sacrament is one of the two sacraments of healing.

What is being healed in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation?
First and foremost, it heals the relationship between us and God, which is by far the most important relationship that we can have. Jesus wants more than anything for us to have wholeness in our lives and wholeness in our relationships, and just in the word Reconciliation we can see how the cycle of falling, asking for pardon, and making up are not just attributes of good human relationships, but speak to the divine relationship we have with God. We mess up, and we say sorry, and God sees and appreciates the fact that we take ownership of our faults and failings, and always, always takes us back, no matter what we’ve done or said. The importance though, is that we have contrition, that is, that we’re really sorry for the things that we’ve done, and that we really try to do better.

The first reading this weekend from the First Letter of Peter speaks directly to this cycle, when certain Jews, on hearing with sorrow how they were responsible in the crucifixion of the Lord, asked Peter what they should do. “Repent and be baptized”, and “for the forgiveness of your sins”, Peter says. The contrast is striking, we can be responsible for so many horrendous things, like the murder of the God of Heaven and Earth, and yet He is willing to take us back, and not only take us back, but to promise us so many good and wonderful things besides. Here is the point, Reconciliation is not a cross, it’s a gift, and it’s something that is such a wonderful gift, because our Lord has assured us that his arms will always be open to us. I hope this is a personal grace to hear, because for myself personally, I was so gratified to really learn that confession is not between myself and the priest, it’s really between myself and God.

Jesus breathed on the disciples and gave them the power to forgive sins, which we just heard about the Sunday after Easter. How easily and how frequently we can heal our relationship with God, and in turn heal our relationship even with ourselves. It’s crazy how the two most amazing sacraments are so overlooked because we can receive them so frequently, in the Eucharist, and in Reconciliation, but I guess that is the nature of how gracious and giving our God can be.

Fr. Tran