St Francis Q&A

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"The Light is ON for You"

Tonight begins a new Archdiocesan initiative, “The Light is ON for You”. At St. Andrew’s and at every parish around the Archdiocese, the Sacrament of Penance will be offered in the Church from 7-8:30 pm. This will continue each Wednesday night during Lent. I invite each of you to take part in the awesome gift of reconciliation with God and the Church through this powerful and healing sacrament. Also, I strongly encourage you to spread the word; please invite at least one person to come to Confession on Wednesday nights (and/or any other time) during Lent.

The following are excerpts from a pastoral letter by Archbishop Wuerl, “God’s Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance”. To view the full text, please click on the title of this post.

“The Church believes in the forgiveness of sins. Not only did Jesus die to wash away all sin and not only in his public life did he forgive sin, but after his resurrection Jesus also extended to his Church the power to apply the redemption won on the cross and the authority to forgive sin.

The Catechism points out that our faith in the forgiveness of sins is tied in with faith in the Holy Spirit, the Church and the communion of saints. ‘It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”’ (976)…

After baptism, where do we find such forgiveness? Who can remove sin and wipe away our failures? In the sacrament of Penance we meet Christ in his Church ready and eager to absolve and restore us to new life. The graces of Christ are conferred in the sacraments by means of visible signs – signs which are acts of worship, symbols of the grace conferred and the recognizable gestures through which the Lord confers his gifts. Forgiveness of sins and the restoration of baptismal graces are also attached to an outward sign.

What leads a person to the sacrament of Penance is a sense of sorrow for what one has done. The motivation may be out of love for God or even fear of the consequences of having offended God. Whatever the motive, contrition is the beginning of forgiveness of sin. The sinner must come to God by way of repentance…

In the sacrament of Penance the sinner comes before Christ in his Church in the person of the priest who hears the sins, imposes a penance and absolves the sinner in the name and power of Christ…

Fully conscious that only God forgives sins, we bring our failings to the Church because Jesus imparted to his apostles his own power to forgive sins. In doing this Jesus gave to his Church the authority to restore and reconcile the sinner with God and also the ecclesial community, the Church. This ecclesial dimension is expressed most forcefully in Christ’s words to Simon Peter: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 16:19)…

The sacrament of Reconciliation is the story of God’s love that never turns away from us. It endures even our short-sightedness and selfishness. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God waits, watches, and hopes for our return every time we walk away. Like the son in the parable, all we need do to return to our Father is to recognize our wrong and seek God’s love. Jesus continues to speak to us of our noble calling to holiness and of his loving forgiveness. He offers us reconciliation if we ask for it”.


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