Pastoral Thought

3-24-19 

                Some thoughts about the sacrament of Reconciliation, or as we say: “going to confession.”  There will be a parish service this Wednesday, with opportunity to confess. Here I will comment on its value for those who are over 30.

The maturing adult (30?-50?) often will have overcome any enslavement to serious sin, and is not obligated by God or the Church to confession in order to receive Holy Communion. At this stage of the Christian life he or she should use confession as a way to growth in faith and love…a time to discern habits and tendencies that limit your love for God and neighbor.

Quite apart from whether the priest “understands” and “gives good advice”, the act of confessing your faults and receiving absolution brings a deepening of God’s love. Perhaps also a time to deepen your life of faith by getting pastoral guidance. It is no longer a time to “avoid evil” but to find new ways to draw closer to God and our brothers and sisters.

            Beyond age 50, I think the Holy Spirit wants to use us as a fount of wisdom and encouragement, not only to children, grandchildren and friends, but also to may others. Confession can become a way of spiritual guidance. This means that confessor and penitent together look at how God has worked in the penitent’s life, and what is God’s will for them now. In these confessions, yes, it does matter that you seek out a wise and understanding priest. We would not be given additional years to live if God did not have some very important purpose. Sometimes the confession of an elder in the church consists of thanks and praise, not the confession of new sins. Past sin, already forgiven, can be part of the gratitude.

            I will say something later about children, teen, and young adult confessions.

Father John Hynes