At one our our CAFE gatherings we discussed the sacrament of Reconciliation. Here are the highlights from the meeting:
We began with the Prayer of St. Francis. We then invited participants to choose, from a series of images, the picture that spoke to them about forgiveness. Using images to begin conversation is a powerful tool for both adults and children as it gives us an entry point or focusing point on what we want to share with others.
To give background regarding the sacrament, we showed the families a video from That Catholic Show.
Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing. In the same way that Jesus healed by saying “your faith has healed you,” it is crucial that we acknowledge our role in the sacrament beyond confession of our sins. In the Church of today we emphasize that is sacrament is about restoring relationships: restoring the relationship between ourselves and our Lord and between ourselves and the community.
Forgiveness is a central theme of our Catholic Christian faith. Knowing how to forgive and how to apologize in healthy ways benefits all people as we do the work of renewing our relationships.
We drew the connection between the four steps of apology/forgiveness and the steps of the sacrament itself. The four steps of apology are our actions when we confess and when we receive penance and absolution. The four steps of forgiveness are the steps the priest goes through on behalf of our Lord. The priest tells us the story of our faith, of a merciful and unconditionally loving God who is waits eagerly by the door to welcome us home. We name our hurt and we know that God shares in our hurt. The priest, on behalf of God, grants forgiveness and we then continue to work of renewing our relationships.
Finally, we encouraged the participants to receive the sacrament themselves and to invite their children to participate. Many of us have not been to confession since we were young and did it for the first time. We discussed that as adults and teens our understanding of hurt, sorrow and hunger for restoration may be stronger than that of young children. We also reminded participants that if their older children request a desire for the sacrament, it is not the time to presume that they have done something horrible and drill them for answers. If we take this approach, we bar our children from a beautiful gift and experience of our faith.
During Covid times, Reconciliation is available only by appointment. You can also call the Pastoral Center at 626-403-6100 to schedule an appointment with one of the priests.