Penance

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what is the sacrament of penance?

It is also called Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It is a Sacrament of Healing, along with the Sacrament of the Sick. In this Sacrament sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that Jesus wants the Church to continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation. (CCC 1421). 

During his life on earth, Jesus did many acts which he commissioned his disciples to continue after he had ascended to Heaven. Example he baptised, and he told them to continue doing that. He preached the good news - and that was why he chose them in the first place to join in his ministry. He healed, and he told them in Mark 16:17 'These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; (16:18) they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.' In the same way, his ministry of forgiveness of people's sin was not abandoned.  Recall the case of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1–11, the woman who anointed his feet in Luke 7:48 and the paralytic man in Matthew 9:6. But he needed, in the same way as the above, his disciples to continue his this ministry after him. That was why he told them  'As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained' (John 20:21–23). It is because of that the the Bishops who represent the apostles, with the priests as their collaborators, in the Sacrament of the Reconciliation forgive, not in their own name but in the name of Christ.

but they are sinners like me. why should i go to them for confession?

When Jesus was sending out or commissioning his Apostles, it was not on the condition that they were perfect. Of course that was desirable but he had to make use of what he had - as imperfect as they were. Remember that couple of months later one of them was to sell him - and that was a horrible thing to do after being with Jesus  for 3 years. Peter denied him, and the rest - with the exception of John - deserted him when he needed them most. in spite of that he still forgave them and forgave everybody from the Cross - even those that brutally killed him. He even forgave the good thief on the Cross. This guy who must have committed lots of atrocities had all his sins wiped away in an instant. That is what he wishes to do for each one of us, but in our case making use of imperfect human beings to continue his forgiveness. We confess to God through the priest who is given the authority by Christ to forgive in his name. The graces received is independent of the instrument's holiness but is more dependent on the recipient's own faith. 

how is the sacrament celebrated in st columba's?

Children from St Joseph's primary School celebrate their FIRST RECONCILIATION just before their FIRST COMMUNION DAY. In our Parish, it takes place on the 5th of March by 7:30pm. Please see Parish Calendar below:

weekly confessions

 Apart from the FIRST RECONCILIATION for the school children, the Sacrament is celebrated every weekend in St Columba's: On Saturdays 4pm - 4:20pm and 5:30pm - 6pm, or after the 4:30pm Vigil Mass. Confession could also be had by arrangement - if you just call the parish number or mail the parish and set it up. Please see below:

still not comfortable about the idea of confessing?

Someone may not be comfortable  because she/he thinks the priest will remember her/his sins. Actually the priest has to be a hyper-computer to do that. He has his own personal struggles to deal with, remember - so it's impossible to put people's sins on his shoulders! Besides in the Catholic Church the 'Seal of Confession' punishes with automatic excommunication any priest who reveals anybody's sins.  Confidentiality here is sacrosanct. 

People have the option to use the confessional box or room depending on the parish and depending also on what  makes them more comfortable. 

what happens at the confessional?

The first thing is to examine your conscience to see where you have offended GOD, not THE PRIEST. Then you have to be sorry for your sins. Then lastly you tell the priest your sins AGAINST GOD, according to the way you prepared it - some people use the exact order of the ten commandments etc. 

Some people may also think that they can't confess because the priest doesn't understand their language. Well God understands all languages . Just try to be as sincere as possible and resolve, with the help of God, to avoid both sin and the 'occasions' of sin' - environments or associations that make you vulnerable to certain sins, example dangerous companies, gossiping environments etc. Finally, the priest will ask you to say the 'Act of Contrition' and certain prayers before giving you the 'Absolution' or forgiveness in the name of the Catholic Church.