The Grace and Mercy of Reconciliation

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Our annual summer silent retreat is underway, and we are going to share it with you.

You can make this retreat at home, if you wish, by reading each reflection and taking time to reflect, journal, sit in silence or walk quietly through a beautiful place.

By Sister Mary Core, OSB

Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we do during our annual retreat.

Of course, I – like many Catholics – still tend to think of Reconciliation more as “confession.”

Here’s the difference:

Confession focuses more on the telling of our sins, our faults and failings, and then receiving “absolution” (being pronounced free of guilt or blame).

Reconciliation, on the other hand, is more about mending relationships, and making healthy again that which has become unhealthy.

Sounds good, but my tendency over the years has often been to fall back into “examining my conscience” in a sort of “grocery list” manner of the things I failed at.

Well, during this retreat, I was blessed with a grace-filled moment.

Since I actually plan the Reconciliation services, I had written the words that would be prayed.

But it was God’s grace that “smacked me in the face” when I heard Father Joel read those words: “…pause to examine our lives as we consider where we are most in need of God’s mercy.”

WOW! It was as if I heard the words for the first time.

After all these years, I realized that mercy was at the heart and center of this sacrament.

And I am deeply in need of God’s mercy.

That is, I can talk about God’s love and mercy, and dole out good advice quite easily, but when it comes to really believing and trusting that God loves me and has mercy on me, well, that’s a different story.

Really hearing the message helped me know that mercy lets God and others carry me, hold me, forgive me, weep with me, be patient with me, lovingly correct me.

I was being called to open myself to it – to the mercy freely given – to let it wash over me.

At last I understood that if I could not accept the mercy of God and others, I could never be reconciled with them, never be one with them.

Reconciliation called me, and the gift of grace empowered me, to believe and trust that God loves me beyond all loving, and that God’s mercy wipes the slate clean, holds me in tender embrace, and says, “You are mine, my beloved. Go and do the same for others.”

So, here. I’m doing what I can for you, by sharing this graced invitation with you:

Acknowledge and own:
•    the hurts you have felt and those you have caused,
•    the broken relationships which need to be mended,
•    the unresolved issues and wounds – your own or those you have caused – that need healing.

You will hear that still, small voice saying: “You are mine, my beloved. Go and do the same for others.” And be reconciled.

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