Sacrament of Reconciliation during COVID-19

Perfect contrition arises out of love of God, as compared to fear of the consequences of sin. The Catechism states:

1452. When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible. Such contrition is not rooted in a desire to protect ourselves or avoid the consequences of sin. It is rooted in love for God, in genuine recognition that we have harmed our relationship with God, that we have put aside the communion which we should cherish.  When we think of the times we have truly wronged a loved one, and we anguish not over the consequences of our actions, but over the love we have offended in our wrongdoing, we have some concept of what perfect contrition looks like. But love is not merely an emotional exercise. Love consists of real acts and obedience. In particular, this love includes following the path God has laid out for us for the expiation of the harmful effects of sin. That is, seeking out sacramental confession and penance as soon as it is available. For this reason, the Catechism goes on to say that perfect contrition “also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.”

So how do we obtain perfect contrition during these incredibly trying times when we might not be able to seek the Sacrament of Confession? There is no particular method or special process, but as the Holy Father has told us, we must approach God like we would a loving father. If we do not feel we have genuine love for God, we ask him to be filled with that love. God always understands the difficult situations we find ourselves in. Like a good father, he is always willing to provide for us.

if you feel you are suffering under grave sin:

  • Speak to God, express your love for him and his son
  • Pray for genuine, loving contrition for your sins
  • Enumerate your sins
  • Ask for forgiveness for your sins
  • Say an Act of Contrition
  • Promise with true intention to confess your sins to a priest, whom God has placed here for you, as soon as you are able, so that you might be healed and fully reconciled

While we might not have the immediate assurance of the Sacrament at this time, of the priest’s words: “I absolve you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” we do have the assurance of Christ’s words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.”

Fr. Paul Coyle


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