What does the sacrament of penance mean

Course of the sacrament of confession (penance)

Origin, meaning and course of confession

During the times of penance and Lent, one sacrament in particular comes to the fore: the sacrament of penance (confession). But what is confession, where does the practice come from and how can I confess myself?

What is the confession?

Confession is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church. In this sacrament the believer honestly confronts his sins, confesses them before God and they will eventually be forgiven if he repents. That is why the sacrament of penance is also called the "celebration of reconciliation".

In this way, people take responsibility for their own actions and open themselves up to God and the community of the Church. Confession works through the mediation of the church (here in the person of the priest): So the believer goes to the confessional, confesses his sins before the priest (who acts in "persona Christi") and gets them remitted under the condition of a penance ( by means of absolution).

Who invented confession?

Confession has its origin in the words of Jesus, who said to his disciples: »Amen, I say to you: Everything that you will bind on earth will also be bound in heaven and everything that you will loosen on earth will also be loosened in heaven.«(Mt 18:18) From these words the church derives its mandate to act here in the substitution of Jesus Christ.

When and how often should confession be made?

The Church requires the believer to receive the sacrament of penance at least once a year (before Easter). However, it is advisable to go to confession more regularly (once a month and especially before high festivals such as Christmas, Pentecost, etc.) in order to be able to grow spiritually and to deepen the relationship with God. Ultimately, you keep track of yourself and it is easier to perceive the dark sides of yourself and to avoid them.

What should one actually confess?

In the first letter of John the author writes:

When we say we have no sin, we are leading ourselves astray and the truth is not within us. When we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous; he forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all wrong. When we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. My children, I am writing this to you so that you do not sin. But if someone sins, we have an assistant from the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 Jn 1,8-2,1)

We all have our character flaws, bad habits, and mistakes that we just need to become aware of so that we can change. If you can't think of mistakes of your own straight away, a sensible examination of your conscience (confession mirror) is recommended, as can be found, for example, in God's Praise under No. 599.

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