Pastoral Thought





            Reconciliation is still finding its place in our individual lives. By this I mean the sacrament we call ‘Penance’ or ‘Confession’. Few of you confess on a regular basis. I think this is chiefly because you accurately perceive that the everyday wrongdoing, which we call venial sin, is forgiven through our own sorrow and through Holy Communion. Mortal sin—a rejection of God—must be confessed. The value of confession for a committed Catholic is that it brings us self-knowledge that leads to a deeper love of God and neighbor. But, in my experience, this only seems to happen with mature committed Catholics. I urge all adult Catholics to move beyond “not transgressing the law” to “how have I responded to God’s call to me today?”

            The other half of our quest for reconciliation is the public arena of society. We are in the world as light and salt and yeast—Jesus tells us—to influence the whole. When we hold a communal reconciliation service it is not simply to gear us up for confession of our personal sins. It is to pray for Church and human society, and beg God to restore wounded humanity to wholeness, and to peace one with the other. Psalm 80 puts it this way:  “Lord make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

            Not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but soon. I hope the Church will develop ways of enabling and celebrating communal reconciliation. I like to think that Pope Francis’ journey to Myanmar two weeks ago is an instance of it. There was a cruel persecution of a minority sect. Almost no Catholics are in that country. But he considered it part of his ministry to reconcile, so he went.

Father John Hynes