The Sacrament of Penance helps us: (1) to obtain forgiveness from God after we have made a sincere confession, shown true sorrow, and are resolved not to sin again; (2) to be reconciled with the Church, which is wounded by our sins; and (3) to strive for holiness of life and overcome habits of sin.
1. The Sacrament of Penance helps us to obtain forgiveness from God after we have made a sincere confession, shown true sorrow, and are resolved not to sin again.
In the Creed we say: “I believe…in the forgiveness of sins.” God gave us the Sacrament of Penance as the means to obtain His forgiveness for our mortal sins. We should be truly sorry for them, confess them to a priest, and receive absolution from the priest. Absolution refers to the words of forgiveness spoken by the priest in confession. These words are a sign of assurance of God’s forgiveness. After absolution, we must perform the penance given us by the confessor, saying the prayers or doing the good deeds assigned.
The Church also encourages us to use the Sacrament of Penance frequently for obtaining grace and the forgiveness of our venial sins.
2. The Sacrament of Penance helps us to be reconciled with the Church, which is wounded by our sins.
By doing penance we show our repentance in action and make our relationship with God and our fellow men more firm, since we have damaged these unions by sin.
3. The Sacrament of Penance helps us to strive for holiness of life and overcome habits of sin.
Through each sacrament, the Holy Spirit makes our souls more pleasing to God because of the graces He gives us. The Sacrament of Penance brings to each individual special helps toward spiritual growth. Through the sacrament, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, forgives us our sins and sends His Holy Spirit once more to our souls with new grace and new strength to help us lead the Christian life and grow spiritually.
The purpose of the Sacrament of Penance is to make visible and present God’s mercy and forgiveness.
The Sacrament of Penance also reminds us of the great love God has for us. His love should inspire us to a greater love for Him. This sacrament will increase in us the love of God each time we receive it with humility and devotion.
This sacrament also increases our hope. We realize that, even though we are sinners, we can obtain from God the help we need to reach Heaven. Moreover, faith is strengthened in the sacrament because, like any other sacrament, Penance demands the exercise of faith.