In the sacraments, God comes to us spiritually through our senses. In reconciliation (also called confession or penance), we experience the Lord’s mercy through speech and hearing. To confess our sins to Christ’s representative, and hear back in a human voice, “Your sins are forgiven; go in peace,” helps to alleviate our sense of guilt and heal our soul.
The sacrament of reconciliation is offered at St. Alphonsus Parish every Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Reconciliation is available by appointment also; simply call the parish office at 724-935-1151. Additional opportunities for the sacrament are scheduled during the Advent and Lenten seasons.
Reconciliation has its roots in the penitential rites and practices of the Old Covenant, in which sinners confessed their transgressions and made restitution to those they had wronged (Numbers 5:5-7). The rite of forgiveness was overseen by the priest, who pronounced the sinner clean and made an offering on his or her behalf. The priests of the New Covenant have been given a greater authority over sin. Jesus, appearing to the apostles after the resurrection, bestowed on them the power to forgive sins in His name, declaring, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:23).
Just as God has given particular individuals the ministry of healing—working through them to heal the body—so too He has given the apostles and their successors the ministry of reconciliation—working through them to heal the soul. With a bodily healing it is Christ who heals: the healing occurring by His authority. Likewise in reconciliation it is Christ who forgives sins through the instrument of the priest.