242 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT
The Sacrament of Penance reconciles us with God. “The whole power
of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and
joining us with him in an intimate friendship” (CCC, no. 1468).
This Sacrament also reconciles us with the Church. Sin should never
be understood as a private or personal matter, because it harms our
relationship with others and may even break our loving communion
with the Church. The Sacrament of Penance repairs this break and has a
renewing effect on the vitality of the Church itself.
In this Sacrament, the penitent receives the merciful judgment of
God and is engaged on the journey of conversion that leads to future
life with God. The Church also recommends that a person go regularly
to confession, even if only for venial sins. This is because “the regular
confession of our venial sins helps us form our consciences, fight against
evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life
of the Spirit” (CCC, no. 1458).
RECOGNIZE SIN—PRAISE GOD’S MERCY
The Sacrament of Penance is an experience of the gift of God’s bound-
less mercy. Not only does it free us from our sins but it also challenges
us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who
sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight
into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in pardoning that we
By the help of God’s grace, our call to holiness will be clearer when
we recover an awareness of the reality of sin and evil in the world and
in our own souls. Scripture will be enormously helpful in this since it
reveals sin and evil clearly and fearlessly. Scriptural realism does not
hesitate to pronounce judgment on the good and evil that affects our
lives. The New Testament is filled with calls to conversion and repen-
tance, which need to be heard in our culture today.
If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and