Pastoral Thought



The Sacrament of Reconciliation (continued)

      As children we learn not only right and wrong, but sin and forgiveness from our parents’ way of life, helped by the Church’s teaching and rituals. “Sin” and “Forgiveness” cannot be taught in public schools, nor—beyond a point—can right and wrong. Yet educators deserve to have parent initiating their own children into a belief in God and God’s requirements of us. So children’s confessions are an important part of moral formation.

            Teenagers and young adults need and want to be responsible for their own be Free! But personal freedom requires an inner principle of morality: a developed conscience. Persons becoming adult must be accountable for their actions, and accept that “I alone can choose what sort of person I shall be, and I am responsible for all my actions.” God’s grace is crucial, but our free consent is necessary. To be accountable for one’s self through confession is a great human act, if the young person comes as a conscientious thinking person, not on a child’s level.

            To be a self-reliant, responsible adult is—humanly speaking—an indispensable goal for the substitutes accepted. Yet as a Christian there must be a further development:  the capacity to recognize one’s wrongdoing and mistakes and seek pardon and correction, and, when necessary reconciliation with the other. This conversion comes through God’s grace, and the grace is offered most directly and strongly in the act of confessing to a priest and receiving absolution.

            Without this graced conversion, we will not be able to love God above all things, and—as Jesus said—to “love one another as I have loved you.” Yes, children's’ confessions are important. But their purpose is to introduce us to the path of conversion that will develop into an adult attitude about life.

Father John Hynes