Day Thirty-Four: Reconciliation

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Imagine spending the day working hard in a garden in the heat of the sun. Afterwards, nothing is more refreshing than a shower and clean clothes. So it is with the soul. After laboring in the field of the world, at work, within the family, or in your broader community, you will inevitably become dirtied by sin—perhaps not grave sin, but at least venial sins and spiritual imperfections. When these sins become habitual, they dirty us even more. And if the sin is mortal, the filth is great.

God wants you clean. He wants you free. He does not want to see His son or daughter mired in filth and shame. This is the reason for the glorious Sacrament of Reconciliation.

After pondering the Seven Capital Sins over the past several days, you are likely more keenly aware of your particular sins. There is no shame in admitting our sins. Shame only comes from denying and hiding our sins. Humble souls cry out to God for mercy and readily confess their weaknesses, including their sins, especially their habitual or grave ones.

Lent is a time in which we seek spiritual renewal, and nothing can renew us more than the cleansing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In that sacrament, God touches your soul and cleanses it from all that weighs you down. He brings freedom and peace and enables you to start again.

Confession is really the starting point of conversion in that it wipes away the guilt of sin. But the Church teaches that even after a soul is cleansed of the “guilt” of sin, “temporal punishment” remains. It is for this reason that confession is only the starting point to the freedom you desire.

Temporal punishment is another way of saying that sin creates habits and unless those habits are changed, one will likely fall into the same sins again. Sinful habits are changed by conversion and purification of the mind and will. This is done through prayer, virtuous choices, grace, and penance. One reason a penance is given after confession is to remind the person of the need to go forth and change, now that the sin has been forgiven.

Traditionally, the Church has offered many ways to receive an indulgence, which is a spiritual act that brings with it all the grace necessary to be released from the “temporal punishment due to sins” (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #1471). An indulgence is one way that God guarantees that all the grace you need to fully change is made available to you. Whether or not you avail yourself of that grace is up to you.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to make a thorough confession this Lent, look for the desire you have within your soul for true freedom from sin. As you discover that desire, ponder it over and over. Allow that desire to grow within you and to become the motivation you need to celebrate God’s forgiveness in Reconciliation. If you have made a thorough and sincere confession, ponder the cleansing power of that sacred act. Rejoice in the gift you have been given, and seek to remedy every lingering bad habit so that your freedom will increase and your joy will be great.

My forgiving Lord, Your Sacred Heart is one of perfect mercy. You hold nothing back from us but give all You are and all You have out of the superabundance of Your perfect love. Please give me the grace I need to humble myself before You by acknowledging and confessing my sin so that I find freedom, peace and joy, and then work to overcome all bad habits and near occasions of sin. Thank You for Your abundant mercy! Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Thirty-Four: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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