Father Andreas Hoeck, Chair of sacred Scripture at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and a confessor at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, shared five reasons with the Denver Catholic on why people who have been away from the sacrament of reconciliation for some time should return.
1. Peace and Joy: For those who have been away from confession for a long time, one would encourage them to go and experience again the inner peace and joy that come with the reception of that sacrament, since peace and joy are the direct outcome of penance and reconciliation. We should give that counsel with joy and beautiful words, as those are the greatest signs of the Kingdom, and the most shining witness to those who are distant from Christ.
2. Precept of the Church: People should go to confession simply because it is of divine law to do penance, it is also one of the five precepts of the Church, to do that at least once a year; but most of all, it is good for ourselves as we help save our souls, and live in a more intimate union with our heavenly Father.
3. Christ’s Mercy: People do not need to be nervous, because the priest will be very happy to assist them to make a good confession; or, as Pope Francis put it recently: “The priest will be nice to you, and Jesus will be even nicer!”
4. Absolute Secrecy: Also most reassuring is this—the seal of confession binds the priest who hears our sins to permanent and absolute silence. He will never ever disclose anything of what he heard in the confessional; the faithful who confess their sins, therefore, are perfectly protected and don’t have anything to fear. Their sins are literally buried, wiped out and forgotten the moment they pronounce them in the confessional.
5. There is No Unforgivable Sin: There is no sin that cannot be forgiven; Jesus does mention the “unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit,” which really is a person’s decision not to open up to God’s mercy, making it impossible for the Lord to reach their hearts. So, it is not a sin that cannot be forgiven, but it is the person’s refusal to go and ask for forgiveness and mercy.
This article was originally published in March 2014.