On Monday, April 3, churches in the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre will celebrate “Reconciliation Monday,” an opportunity where parishes will offer the sacrament of penance to all who wish to come during several hours over the day.
Since more than 75% of Catholics never go to confession or go once a year, this day is the perfect opportunity for area Catholics to come back to this important sacrament. The Church offers this day right before Easter be- cause it is the perfect time to be lifted from the burden of sin as we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord.
As Bishop Robert Brennan said on his weekly podcast, “Big City Catholics,” Reconciliation Monday will occur from Montauk Point to the Catskills as most churches in the three dioceses will be hearing penance.
“It’s a day of healing, of welcoming, and to experience God’s loving mercy,” Bishop Brennan said on the podcast, which is co-hosted with Father Christopher Heanue.
“The sacrament of confession is a breath of fresh air,” Father Heanue said. “I use the imagery of the baggage that we carry around with us in life. The bag- gage of sin weighs down on us. We can leave it there in the confessional. We have come out renewed, refreshed, and lightened.”
Another priest noted that many people spend too much time thinking about the human aspect of the priest-parishioner interaction in confession and not enough about the spirituality of it, and that might be keeping them away from confession.
“If you’re worried that after you confess your sins, the priest is going to look at you funny the next time he sees you in church, don’t worry. It’s not going to happen. God gifts priests with amnesia,” he said.
Let’s talk about the bad news, namely, sin.
In sin, we are choosing to disobey the one thing that the Creator had asked our first parents to do — namely, to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — Adam and Eve forgot their place in the universe. They forgot that God is the creator and that they are creatures.
We learn that this original sin leads to personal sin. We can turn to the catechism to get a clearer understanding: “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’”
Sin is the flip side of the good news. But we must focus not on the sickness of sin but on the cure for the illness, namely, repentance and holiness of life.
Never be afraid of the sacrament of penance. Nothing should keep us from this sacrament.
Perhaps it has been many years since you have been to confession. Perhaps you don’t remember the rite of penance or have forgotten how to say an act of contrition. This should not hold you back from receiving the love and mercy that the Lord Jesus has for you.
The Church is clear in the path that it lays out for us to follow. We need to be- come aware of our sins, and after having owned up to them, we need not despair but trust in the Lord, who desires nothing more than to heal and save us.
This Reconciliation Monday is your opportunity to shed your baggage and step into God’s light in time for the Easter celebration.