Healing the Heart and Celebrating Mercy
Love is not concerned
with whom you pray
or where you slept
the night you ran away
love is concerned
that the beating of your heart
should kill no one.
- Alice Walker -
Of all the sacraments of the Church, few evoke as many fears or offer as much intimacy, as does the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For many of us, the dread of the dark box where we tell our secrets (and have, at times, felt judged) keeps us away from the grace of this fundamental Christian experience.
Even knowing that the sacrament is different now—usually celebrated face to face, often times more compassionate and caring in its theology—we avoid it, trusting instead to the penitential rite of the Mass or to our general faith in God’s abiding mercy.
And, indeed, given the loving God in whom we believe, why do we need this sacrament at all? Why can’t we just pray and be forgiven or trust in a general absolution at Mass? Isn’t the Sacrament of Reconciliation just an anachronism of a fear-based Church that we should leave behind?
To answer these questions requires, first of all, exploring—perhaps in a new way—three other dimensions of our faith that explain (and, I think, help broaden) our understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: the nature of sin, the nature of human beings as loved-sinners, and the reason and nature of all the sacraments.
In looking into our own humanity, and our own call to reconciliation, we come to better understand not just this sacrament, but the whole experience to which we are called as children of God and sisters and brothers of Jesus.
Read pdf of the entire essay below.
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