The ministry of reconciliation

When I needed a new book to read, I went into my 14-year-old daughter’s bedroom and found this book in her 4-foot stack of books. We both enjoy mysteries, and psychological thrillers, which this book fulfilled. However, I hated the ending. I know I would not have chosen this book if I had read the synopsis before reading it.  

From AmazonOne House. Three Families. Countless Secrets.

I don’t enjoy plots based on characters’ secrets or lies. Unfortunately, every character in this book was lying, and they had to do terrible things to cover up their lies. There would not have been any plot if they just were honest with each other. Blah!

I have already blogged about the importance of truth and its relation to the 8th Commandment: here.

Discussion:  This book made me thankful for being Catholic and having the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is essential to reflect on standards outside of ourselves. The characters in this book had good reasons for lying and doing the awful things they did. Reading their situations and understanding their thought processes, I could understand and relate to their choices.  

Thus, relativism: As long as our reasons and intentions are good, all of our actions are justified. However, the world of relativism usually results in a world of chaos, which one could see in this book.

To truly judge our actions, we need to get out of ourselves and our pride and go to God. God has given us a set of standards to live by, and we need to ask ourselves if we are living by God’s standards and not our own or societies. An Examination of Conscience can help us do this. 

An Examination of Conscience is a “prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God” (Glossary of Catechism of the Catholic Church).

An Examination of Conscience is always done in “light of the word of God” (365). Some places to start would be:

  • Ten Commandments
  • Beatitudes 
  • Mt 5-7
  • Room 12-15
  • 1 Cor 12-13
  • Gal 5
  • Eph 4-6

Many online versions ask questions that one can reflect on to determine sins. Then we must confess:

1 Jn 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jm 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

Confession must be made with a priest – even though only God can forgive sins (Mk 2:7).

1441: Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven (Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48). Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.

Jesus did this in:

Jn 20:21-23 [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 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.”

For anyone who does not see the sacrament of Reconciliation to a priest necessary, I ask you to meditate on John 20:21-23. This is the only time in the Gospel where Jesus breathes on His Apostles. He breathes on them when telling them to forgive sins. Catholics see this as Jesus giving His Apostles the ministry of Reconciliation, which St. Paul also calls a ministry: 

2 Cor 5:18 And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.  

One can read more about this sacrament in paragraphs 1420-1498 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

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