I’m sorry

I’m sorry. Those two small words sometimes are very difficult to say and sometimes they can be difficult to hear and accept from someone who has hurt us. Sometimes those two small words just pop out of our mouths without much thought, meaning or real intent. In other words, it is an automatic response that comes out and we really don’t mean it but it gets us out of a situation for the moment. Sometimes those two small words can be the stitch that pulls together and heals a wounded relationship.

I think we all understand how important it is for all of us to be sorry when we hurt someone else and to ask for forgiveness from our parents, friends and other people in our lives when we do something to hurt them. I think we know that it is a natural part of our being to want to be in healthy and peaceful relationships and so we are inclined to seek forgiveness when we make a mistake that may jeopardize those relationships. In fact, some of us might even go out of our way to right the wrong with a friend, or spouse with flowers, candy, or a card — right? 

God knew that we would need help and that we are not perfect so He gave us a gift by which we can right the wrongs that we have committed. That gift is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yup, I know. Confession is not something we like to talk about or do. According to an article I once read, it noted that more than 45 percent of all church-going Catholics have not ever, or rarely go to Confession! Now, factor in those Catholics who don’t go to church and it becomes a concern and a possible crisis. Was your last Confession your First Confession in grade two?

We will go out of our way to fix the relationship with a friend but many of us ignore the damage done to our relationship with God. A damaged relationship with God, especially if we are in mortal sin, has huge eternal consequences.

It’s Confession time, literally. Until recently, I didn’t think about the Sacrament of Reconciliation much. I did the minimum required, but I never much thought about the implications of that decision. After all, I consider myself a good Catholic and even when I went to Confession I really couldn’t come up with much to confess so it seemed a waste of time. However, studying and reading about St. John Vianney for a homily I was preparing recently, gave me a better understanding of my Catholic faith. I’ve had “the hell scared out of me.” Literally! I have come, over the years of deacon formation, to understand that I may not have had my relationship with God, with others and with myself in the right perspective. I also learned that every time we celebrate a Sacrament we encounter Christ and receive the grace to live a Christian life so why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of this gift to strengthen my relationship with God and His Church? And so, I do something about it.

Each time I take advantage of the Sacrament it is a wonderful experience. The priest always takes the time to discuss my concerns and answer my questions as most do. I always leave with a remade soul. I may be 65 on the outside, but inside I’m just minutes old!

I have talked to many people who have been terrified to go to Confession but don’t be — just do it! Just enter, sit and explain what you are feeling to the priest. He will lead you through it. I guarantee it won’t hurt. It will only help. Where else can you get that type of guarantee? 

When relationships go out of kilter, or get distorted, or even broken, then we have the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to heal that. When it is not broken, it strengthens us. I hope you will make a commitment to receive the Sacrament soon. I have committed myself to avail myself of the Sacrament on a regular basis. I invite you to join me in that commitment. 

The Sacrament of Penance — remember, you’ve got nothing to lose (except the sin) and everything to gain (like peace, joy and even eternal life). Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea and St. George Parish in Westport, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He has been married to Kristine, and is the father of two daughters, and has three grandsons. Please email him at DeaconFrankLucca@comcast.net.

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