The Sacrament of Penance is an experience of the gift of God’s boundless 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 from ourselves to be ‘forgivers’ of those who have offended us, and to acknowledge and release our own souls from wrongs committed, things we should have done, and/or things that we could have done with a joyful heart. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
In the Sacrament of Penance, the Faithful obtain from God His mercy and pardon for having offended Him, and at the same time, Reconciliation with the Church which they also have wounded and by which charity, example, and prayer, they can seek conversion. (Rite of Penance #4).
What is the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation?
The Sacrament of Penance is the means by which God forgives sins after baptism is confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God had sent Jesus to forgive sins. After Jesus had been resurrected, Jesus told the apostles, “‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21–23). This sacrament, also known as Reconciliation or Confession, should be received at least once a year, but more so as soon as possible. We celebrate the compassionate forgiveness of our loving God with song and prayer, concluding with an opportunity for individual reconciliation with a priest.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered every Saturday from 2:45pm to 3:45pm and after 6 pm Wednesday Mass until 6:45pm in the church.
The parish also celebrates a communal Penance Service during the Advent and Lenten seasons. Families with children preparing for First Reconciliation must register (Parent Consent & Release Form) in the parish, participate in regular classes, and participate either in the Faith Formation program at Sacred Heart or within Catholic school. In addition and immediately prior to reception of this Sacrament, the child and parent must attend sessions to prepare them for reception of this Sacrament. It is a Diocesan Policy that sacramental programs be a two year process. All children are required to receive First Reconciliation before First Communion.
For more information, please call the Faith Formation Director or make an appointment with Father Anthony at (727) 541-4447.
Ten Reasons to go to Confession
1. Confidentiality guaranteed
There’s nothing like confessing your sins to someone guaranteed not to tell anyone else. Sometimes you need to talk in absolute confidence. Even under subpoena, a priest can’t tell anyone what’s said to him in confession. He can’t even hint at it. Now that’s confidentiality.
2. Housekeeping for the soul
It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed – even if it’s your own.
3. A balm for the desire for revenge
When you have been forgiven you can forgive others. If the perfect Jesus forgives me, who am I to want to avenge the slights in my life. Think: “Why did they promote him over me?’ or “Mom played favorites!”
4. Low cost therapy
It’s free, which makes it cheaper than a psychiatrist for dealing with guilt
5. Forced time to think
Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. To examine our lives and acknowledge failings marks the first step of making things right with God, others and ourselves. Life can be more worth living when you ponder the meaning of your own life.
6. Contribution toward world peace
Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, said that the imbalances in the world that lead to war and tensions “are linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man.” Peace of soul leads to peace of heart leads to peace beyond oneself.
7. A better neighborhood
Confession leaves you feling good about yourself, thereby cutting back the inclination to road rage and aggressive shopping cart driving. With the grace of the sacrament you’re energized to, as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more.”
8. Realistic self-perception
Confession helps overcome arrogance when you have to admit you’re as much of a sinner as anyone else. It helps build tolerance for others’ perceived shortcomings.
9. One more benefit of being Catholic
There are lots of benefits, including a sense of community, liturgical rites to help us encounter God in prayer, and the wonderful sense of humanity exemplified in the saints, from Mary, the loving Mother of God, to Augustine, the exasperating son of Monica. The sacrament that leads us to inner peace is among the greatest boons.
10. Closeness to God
Confession helps you realize that you have a close connection to God and receive his grace through the sacraments. What can be better than knowing God’s on your team, or, to be less arrogant about it, that you are on God’s.