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242 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated


The Sacrament of Penance reconciles us with God. “The whole power

of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and

joining us with him in an intimate friendship” (CCC, no. 1468).

This Sacrament also reconciles us with the Church. Sin should never

be understood as a private or personal matter, because it harms our

relationship with others and may even break our loving communion

with the Church. The Sacrament of Penance repairs this break and has a

renewing effect on the vitality of the Church itself.

In this Sacrament, the penitent receives the merciful judgment of

God and is engaged on the journey of conversion that leads to future

life with God. The Church also recommends that a person go regularly

to confession, even if only for venial sins. This is because “the regular

confession of our venial sins helps us form our consciences, fight against

evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life

of the Spirit” (CCC, no. 1458).


The Sacrament of Penance is an experience of the gift of God’s bound-

less mercy. Not only does it free us from our sins but it also challenges

us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who

sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight

into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in pardoning that we

are pardoned.”

By the help of God’s grace, our call to holiness will be clearer when

we recover an awareness of the reality of sin and evil in the world and

in our own souls. Scripture will be enormously helpful in this since it

reveals sin and evil clearly and fearlessly. Scriptural realism does not

hesitate to pronounce judgment on the good and evil that affects our

lives. The New Testament is filled with calls to conversion and repen-

tance, which need to be heard in our culture today.

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the

truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and