TheNew Evangelization begins in the Confessional
of New Evangelization
Diocese of Green Bay
is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of
Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 2001), no. 37
Guide:We begin with the Sign of the Cross. In the name of the
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Prayer Guide: Prepare our hearts and minds, O
Lord, to accept your Word. Send your Holy Spirit among us so that we may be a
strong people faithful to your Word. Open our hearts so that we can be your
eyes, your hands, your feet, and your mouth to a world in need of your love and
mercy. We ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Prayer Guide: O Lord, open ourhearts.
All: We shall proclaim your praise.
Prayer Guide: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the
All: As it was in the beginning is now, and will be
Prayer Guide: Lord Jesus, by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful. We thank you for the gift of your loving embrace in the
Sacrament of Reconciliation. In
the same spirit, help us to grow in what is truly right and to always to
rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple
is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like
his teacher.Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your
brother, "Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye," when you do not
even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden
beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in
your brother's eye. (Lk 6:39-42)
Reading: Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man (Lk 5:17-26)
day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from
every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the
power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher
a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his
presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went
up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the
middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "As for you,
your sins are forgiven."
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks
blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus knew their thoughts and
said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier,
to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk?' But that you may
know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins?" he said to
the one who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go
He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and
went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified
God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."
The Sacrament of Reconciliation:
I am a sinner.
The question posted by a newspaper, "What is wrong
with the world?" was answered by Catholic author and writer G.K. Chesterton as
"I am." It is these two simple words that are our
starting point for understanding the New Evangelization and the Sacrament of
Reconciliation. When we
hear the term "New Evangelization," we often think about what we have to do in
order to get otherpeople to change and to become more
Christ-like. However, the New Evangelization begins with each one of us
and our call to conversion so that we can be a sign of Christ's love and mercy
in the world. Pope Francis was recently asked by a
journalist, "Who is Pope Francis?" His response was startling in its simplicity
and humility. It is however, the same response that resonates from each of our
hearts: "I am a sinner" (www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview).
It is clear that we
cannot call others to embrace Christ without embracing Christ ourselves, and we
cannot call others to repentance if we ourselves do not repent and confess our
own sins. The New Evangelization begins with each one of us. We are called to
deepen our personal relationship with Christ so that it is "no longer I, but
Christ [who] lives in me" (Gal 2:20).
is the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation contains three elements: conversion,
confession, and celebration. It is this sacrament that changes us, challenges
us, and equips us as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ to reach out to others
and to transform the world. This sacrament brings us into intimate contact with
Jesus, where we are liberated from the sins that trouble our hearts and minds
and experience God's unconditional forgiveness and mercy so that we can be a
living fountain of forgiveness and mercy to others.
Acknowledging our weaknesses and failings leads to a conversion of heart, mind,
and will. This is the first step in turning away from sin and turning to the
Father who loves us and desires each one of us to be in intimate communion with
Confession: Penance provides an opportunity to redress those
failings and to satisfy those sins and patterns of sin that we habitually fall
into. The priest provides spiritual encouragement and also a way for us to
redress and satisfy those we may have wronged in the form of a penance. Penance
may consist of "prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor,
voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the
cross we must bear" (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 2nd ed. [Washington, DC: Libreria
Editrice Vaticana–USCCB, 2000], no. 1460).
confession we are given an opportunity to amend for our weaknesses,
limitations, and struggles, as before the priest we stand before Christ and
take responsibility for our actions and our failings. We acknowledge our
shortcomings and also praise God for his gifts of mercy and abundant love in
forgiving us. We leave the sacrament with a renewed sense of wholeness and
intimacy with God, having experienced a true conversion of heart. This
"transforming and renewing action [of God] is the 'driving force' of every
reform and is expressed in a real evangelizing effort," according to Pope
Benedict XVI (Address to the
Apostolic Penitentiary, www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120309_penitenzieria-apostolica_en.html).
Reflection Story: "Spiritual Surgery"
Abby, a 45-year-old nurse, disclosed that during her college
years she had stopped going to Mass and to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In
her own words, she shares her experience with us.
I grew up Catholic
and even went to Catholic school; my family went to Mass every Sunday, but we
rarely talked about our faith or prayed together as a family. At college, I was
very busy beginning my nursing career and didn't place a high priority on faith
or attending Mass. I attended Mass a couple of times during the year, but I
didn't go regularly and didn't feel the need to go to confession. To be honest,
nobody had really taken the time to explain it to me, and I was afraid to go.
It was during my
college years, however, that I found myself pulling more and more away from my
faith and engaging in behaviors that hurt others and wounded me. To the outside
world, I was a successful person, but inside I felt hopeless. I knew that my
life was spiraling out of control, and I needed someone to talk to.
One day in Church I
heard about the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, and how he had spent about
seventeen hours a day in the confessional in France. What could these people be
confessing to him?, I thought. Is everyone in need of regular confession? That
same night, I woke up with a great sense of urgency. Very clearly, I could see
that my need to talk to someone and my desire to go to confession coincided.
The next morning I
went to a neighboring parish and asked to see the priest. He met with me and
gently helped me to make a confession that changed my life. I was given an
"examination of conscience," which helped me to identify patterns of sin and
where I was in need of healing. As I left the confessional I could not stop the
tears springing to my eyes; I felt freer than I had ever been and deeply
grateful for a chance to change.
Today, as a nurse, I
often describe confession as "necessary spiritual surgery," but far less
invasive! As a nurse I regularly see people in need of surgery who are at their
most vulnerable and sensitive. Surgery identifies the problem, removes it, and
sets the patient on the road to healing. That is what confession has done for
We might approach the
sacrament feeling vulnerable and exposed but end up finding a deep peace and
sense of wholeness from Christ who is the Divine Physician, a peace that does
not come from the world. I cannot imagine the person that I would be without
Mass and the sacraments, but particularly confession!
In the silence of your heart or in a
small group setting (if you are comfortable), please discuss your thoughts on
any of the following questions:
What aspects of
Abby's story resonate with me? How do I feel about the Sacrament of
Reconciliation? When was the last time that I went to confession?
Is it difficult for
me to go to confession? Why?
What name can I give
to the restlessness in my heart? What would I let go of right now in order to
be truly happy and peaceful?
What pattern of sin
can I recognize in my own life?
For information regarding how to make an examination of
conscience, see usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments/penance/examinations-of-conscience.cfm.
Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Encounter with Christ's Love
Sin has a triple effect. It weakens our
relationship with God, it affects our relationships with others, and it
denigrates and damages our true sense of who we really are as children of God
created in his image and likeness. It is in recognizing that we have
wronged God, our neighbor, and ourselves that we are set free from the bindings
that keep us from forgiving and fully loving others. When this liberation
happens through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are better disposed to
proclaim the Gospel with both words and deeds.
(en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/29/pope:_shame_is_a_true_christian_virtue/en1-687330). He loves us, wants to heal us, and is waiting for us in
the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Catechism of the
Catholic Church lists many ways for the Christian to express interior
penance, including the following:
Fasting, prayer and almsgiving;
Efforts at reconciliation with one's neighbor;
The intercession of the saints;
The practice of charity;
Gestures of reconciliation;
Concern for the poor;
The exercise and defense of justice and right;
Examination of conscience;
Celebration of the Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation
and Eucharist, to name just a few.
(CCC, nos. 1434-1439).
Please choose one of the above ways that you can express
interior penance, and make an effort to carry out this act for the satisfaction
of your sins.
To learn more about the Sacrament of
Reconciliation, visit http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments/penance/
Prayer Guide: Together we pray the Act of Faith:
O my God,
I firmly believe that You are one God
in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I believe that Thy Divine Son became
Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the
I believe these and all the truths which the
Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them,
Who can neither deceive nor be
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