In all seasons in the Catholic churches of Korea you will see lines of people before the confessional, preparing for confession. The desk columnist of the Catholic Times reminds us how strange this would seem to unbelievers. It is one of the ways Catholics receive forgiveness after Baptism. He reminds us of the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Confessions of devotion are confessions in which Christians want to know themselves better, to open themselves up to the graces of the Sacrament, and to receive forgiveness for their small offenses. The confessions of obligation are made by those who have sinned in a serious way and want to return to the life of grace. At this time of the year you will find both lining up before the confessional. It is a desire to be reconciled with God, with others, and with oneself. A sacrament that gives joy and strength.
It is not the penance given that is the important part of the Sacrament but the sorrow for the sins in one's life. Without sorrow for the sins we have committed the Sacrament becomes a lie. To receive forgiveness in the Confessional is a great event and those who experience it know what is meant. He mentions that since Buddhism does not have any deity there is no forgiveness like a Catholic believes he receives in confession. Retribution will have to come for the offenses in this life.
There are those that look upon the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a rite of passage. This is not seeing the Sacrament correctly and is a good example of the way the political world chooses to uses the word confession. When the hard-earned tax money is stolen by politicians, there is the so-called general public confession, and the word Catholics use for indulgences is misused to mean forgiveness of sin as if all that is necessary is to receive a bill of forgiveness. The columnist mentions that we are all tired of hearing this when used in the media.
Confession has mostly dealt in the past with offenses against the love of God and neighbor. Is there now a need, the columnist asks, to include offenses against God's creation? He concludes by asking us to reflect on the ways we have done harm to God's creation, along with our usual examination of conscience we have been accustomed to doing in the past.This would be a great addition to our concerns for the New Year.