"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. - Joel 2:12-13
After you gorged yourselves on pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, could you feel the tone of the season change? If you could, it's because the church calendar has changed. The joy of the season of Epiphany is over and the Season of Lent has begun with the coming of Ash Wednesday. Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation for the celebration of Easter. There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. It is common for some people to give up a bad habit and add a good habit that will bring them closer to God. Since Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance, please allow me to offer a Lenten habit for you to consider that will help you prepare for Easter and help you to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Why not try the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
The Reconciliation of a Penitent is a term that our Orthodox and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters would call "Confession". It is a sacrament of the church where the grace of God in the form of forgiveness of sins is granted to a person who approaches God with a penitent heart. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, a person enters into a private conversation with a priest, confesses a specific sin, asks for forgiveness, and receives the forgiveness of God. The priest may offer some counsel, direction, and comfort and then grant absolution (forgiveness) of the sin confessed. In the absolution, the priest assures the penitent that God has heard the confession and through it, the person has been reconciled to God completely. Afterwards, the content of a confession is not normally a matter of future discussion. The secrecy of a confession is morally absolute for the priest, and must under no circumstances be broken.
Our Church's view on the sacrament of Reconciliation is: "All may; Some should; None must." But if you want to take on a good Lenten habit and grow closer to Jesus, or if you seek repentance and desire assurance of God's forgiveness, then Reconciliation may be for you. Try it: you have nothing to lose except the burden of sin! During Lent, I will be available for either Reconciliation on Mondays from 5:00-6:30PM and on Tuesdays from 10:00-11:30AM in my office. I will also be available by appointment most any time. Just call and set up an appointment at (843) 757-2661. Remember that God wants you to be reconciled to Him, so much so that He went to the Cross to open the door of forgiveness to you. Perhaps He's only waiting on you to ask?