Bobby Eberle – Blog Post 5

by May 10, 2024Students

Of all the sacraments, at least those in which I have participated, the one that I feel brings me closer to God and thus invites me into a “deeper union with Christ” is the sacrament of reconciliation.  In Meeting Christ in the Sacraments, Colman O’Neill writes that “there is no other means of entering this sanctuary except obedience, for the sanctuary is nothing else than the sphere of those creatures who share in the life of the Blessed Trinity.”1  Even in that one passage, there is much that can be dissected and applied to my affinity for the sacrament of reconciliation.

The first word that stands out from O’Neill is that of “obedience.”  When we participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, we are acknowledging our disobedience.  In the Gospel of John, we read, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”2  Thus, when one truly immerses oneself into the sacrament, there comes with it a feeling of lose and separation.  By not following Christ’s commandments, we are showing a lack of love for the one who sacrificed everything for us.  Now, to go through the motions of the sacrament of reconciliation is one thing, but to truly realize that we have broken that bond (and will likely do so many times) is an occasion to grieve deeply but then to emerge on “the other side.”  Sincerely coming to terms with all the implications of disobedience makes Christ’s love even evident and our desire to truly be obedient to Christ’s teaching is renewed.

Next is the phase “share in the life of the Blessed Trinity.”  The sacrament of reconciliation also drives this idea home in a way that I don’t quite feel from the other sacraments.  To me, the reason lies in the fact that during confession, a true dialogue exists in the confessional between the priest and the one seeking forgiveness.  The sacrament is more than just the recitation of verses.  On the contrary, it is a conversation, a true “sharing” of both faults and failures but also the yearning to be absolved and to walk with Christ.  This is a perfect example of “sharing in the life of the Blessed Trinity.”  Christ calls us to walk with him, and Christs forgives us when we stumble.

O’Neill also writes regarding the sacraments that “the humanity of Christ in all its reality, physical as well as spiritual, has become the instrument through which the grace-giving Spirit is sent into the world.”3  The sacrament of reconciliation brings forth the physical and spiritual elements of Christ as fully human and Christ as fully God in a way that I think is completely unique.  On the spiritual side, we see the fulfillment of the words from John:  “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”4  During confession we are literally witnessing Christ’s words in action.  Through the Holy Spirit, we see the priest forgiving sins, because of an act of Christ past down over 2,000 years ago.  That is quite an awe-inspiring realization.

On the physical side, we see all our human traits and emotions laid out not just in our mind but in front of the priest from whom we seek forgiveness.  To admit sins, to acknowledge sorrow, and to seek forgiveness all cause reactions in the human being.  These activities are not comfortable, and they bring out parts of our humanity that we all likely would rather keep inside.  However, by being truly human, we share in Christ’s humanity and receive his forgiveness which renews our spirt.  This is a combination that is hard to beat!

  1. Colman O’Neill, Meeting Christ in the Sacraments, p 7. ↩︎
  2. John 14:15. ↩︎
  3. O’Neill, p 24. ↩︎
  4. John 20:22-23. ↩︎