Glossop Catholics

Confession without a priest

God’s mercy is greater than our sins

As you know, we had to postpone the Reconciliation Service planned for earlier this month, and during Lent, I’d usually be visiting housebound people who had indicated their desire for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I’d usually be seeing more people visit the confessional at St Mary Crowned and at All Saints. But in these present circumstances, we are denied that opportunity, and I was planning to write something for you about what the church teaches about seeking reconciliation with God when confession isn’t available. Then I found that Pope Francis — God bless and preserve him! — had beaten me to it.

This is a translation of what the Holy Father (speaking in Italian) told people. “I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can’t leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?’. Do what the catechism says. It’s very clear. If you don’t find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He’s your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘Afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God’s grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the catechism teaches us, to God’s forgiveness, without having a priest at hand.”

When all of this is over, I pray, we’ll once again have many opportunities for people to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But Pope Francis makes an important point, that God’s grace is given at once, not withheld until a person keeps their promise to go to confession. So nobody need ever be anxious thinking something like, “But what if I don’t get better and can’t keep that promise?” God’s mercy prevails!

This information first appeared in our parish newsletter.