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Why make my confession to a priest?

When we hear the word 'Sin' I wonder what comes to mind?

I can vividly remember, as a boy, being frustrated with our Vicar during the general confession, that he never allowed me enough time to mentally list all my 'sins' before he offered the words of absolution. In many ways, I think I still do this. I recall those moments which I regret, or the things I've done that I wish I hadn't, and I ask for God's forgiveness.

We are all called to the 'Conversion of life', where in faith, we are accountable for our behaviour, our poor choices and our faults. This is really important for Christians, however, surely there is more to our faith and our relationship with God than acknowledging fault? Surely, there is more to 'Sin' than it simply being about rule breaking?

What follows is a video explaining that there is a much deeper impact of sin on our humanity. We are made for life, and for love, and yet we can't help but fall short!

"If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5. 16

In the first century, and throughout the early Church, when Christians would gather, they would each in turn, confess their sins publicly. The Church is a community of love and support, and this was a powerful way in which our hearts were healed and where we were reconciled with God and other another.

After a while, and as the Church grew, it became impossible for everyone to make a public confession, and so this ministry of healing was delegated to the priests. Thus, this tradition continues to this day.

Of course, we can confess entirely to God in our personal prayers; but there is more to our personhood, and more to the Sacrament of Reconciliation than simply acknowledging wrongdoing.

This is a place of conversation, and a place of healing. Where we bring our brokenness and woundedness to the Father and where we can truly encounter the Risen Christ. The priest offers a voice, and lends a hand, but it is the Lord who absolves, and it is the Lord who heals. The Priest remains a sinner too, and in need of God's love and forgiveness.

I can remember going for my first confession with a Priest; how scared and embarrassed I was. Yet what I encountered in the priest was a friend, one who stood by me in support, as I offered my heart to the Lord. His words to me were of comfort, love and hope. There is absolutely nothing with which to be fearful or ashamed. We all carry very heavy burdens, and the weight of past unhappiness, regret or shame can be intolerable. Yet, the Lord whispers to us, 'Come to me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered to us, so that the Lord can help us. We are made for life, love and joy, and yet we can often feel crushed by the world. But as the Lord says, "Do not be afraid! I have overcome the world!"

Father Edward is available to hear confessions by appointment, or every other Thursday between 12 and 1pm beginning on Thursday 18th January 2024. We hope that there will also be a visiting confessor (a retired priest) who will be available at this time once a month.

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