A Message from the Bishop – A sacrament of healing

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 

The season of Lent, while it is a time of penance, almsgiving and prayer, is also a time of conversion. Our Lenten practices are intended to enable us to examine our lives, especially as they pertain to our practice of the faith.

Penance and almsgiving are practices which enable us to jettison things in our lives that keep us from a deeper awareness of our relationship with Jesus and are obstacles to a fuller practice of the faith. It is a time for spring cleaning in our interior lives.

These Lenten practices – penance, almsgiving, prayer – should lead us to an examination of our lives and our strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures, and blind spots. How fortunate we are to have a remedy. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is such a great gift. It is a sacrament whereby we can repair the rupture in our relationship with God that sin causes. It is a vehicle for strengthening that relationship which is weakened by our human foibles and it is a place of healing. Yes, we receive forgiveness from God through the priest, who represents both God and the community, since all sin affects not only our relationship with God but also our fellow Christians. And so we need to repair that relationship as well in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The healing power of the sacrament is sometimes overlooked. How often in the Gospels did Jesus physically heal someone as a sign of his power to forgive? (an example can be found in Mark 2: 1-12)

Jesus continues that power of healing as well as forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we express sorrow for our sins we should also ask to be healed, not only of the effects of our sins, but also of the impact of the sins of others that have wounded us. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a powerful and wonderful sacrament. We need to take more frequent advantage of it.

There is great consolation in being able to bring our burdens to the sacrament. We will find there the meaning and compassion that Jesus continues to show. We will find healing, forgiveness, peace and consolation. We will find a renewed energy to deepen our fidelity and joyful living of the Good News.

And so, sisters and brothers, I urge that you take advantage of this graced season of Lent by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are many kind and compassionate priests who are ready to receive you and to mediate the healing and forgiveness of our merciful God.

 

May God continue to bless you and guide you,

Most Reverend Joseph A. Galante, D.D., J.C.D.

Bishop of Camden

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