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Returning To The Father (Sacrament of Reconciliation)

The Penitential Rite is always a grace-filled experience for me. I am humbled every time I deliver these words: 
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
The Confiteor reminds me of my weakness as a human and my great need for the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. And because I am reminded, I need to act. As Catholics, we are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Before, I didn't like the idea of having to confess my sins to a priest. I was hesitant because I was trying to convince myself that I can confess my wrongdoings directly to God. Why would I still need a "middle-man"? I was also worried about what the priest would tell me and think about me. I was afraid to be judged. 

It was only in 2008 when I was finally able to appreciate and embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And my first heart-felt, ever-sincere, honest-to-goodness confession happened at Santo Domingo Parish Church in Quezon City. Since then, I make it a point to go to confession at least once a year. As I learned more about our faith and as I try to draw closer to the Lord, I found myself going to confession more frequently. Doing so gives me serenity, inner healing, and peace. 

Photo Credit: Breathing in Jesus

I really thank God for the beautiful gift of this sacrament and for allowing me to meet new friends and prayer partners through it. 

I can no longer remember how many priests have heard my confession but I will never forget the priests who have patiently listened, eagerly shared their thoughts and wisdom, and earnestly prayed for and with me. One of them I already regard as my spiritual director, though he doesn't like to be called that way. He said it entails a big responsibility which he cannot promise to deliver because of his many other commitments. But he has always been there for me and for more than a year now, he has been journeying with me through thick and thin. :) 

Just before the mass this afternoon, I availed the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After confessing my sins to him, he simply said, "We are not yet saints. And so we ask the grace and strength from the Lord to help us become just like Him." Then he gave me absolution.

That was a magnificent moment of grace - a time when I felt closest to the Father. 

Such is the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It gives us unlimited opportunities to return to the Father. And the best thing about it is, it is for free! We just need to avail it. 

During the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday (which marks the beginning of Lent), we are being told by the minister to repent and believe in the Gospel. As we approach the Holy Week, all the more that we are invited to repentance and faith, which may both be achieved and expressed through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Don't know how to? Well, you don't need to be an expert, because all that is needed is a humble and contrite heart. :) But if you want to do it right and receive the full benefit of the sacrament, this might help: 

Source: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments/penance/

You might also want to read through this beautiful exhortation about the said sacrament:

Full document can be downloaded here: God's Gift of Forgiveness

Still got questions? Then this video would probably answer them. :)

video

Let me end this post with this Prayer for Reconciliation
Photo Credit: Landings International
May we all have a meaningful season of Lent as we strive to be nearer to the Father and become more like the Son. :)

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