Lent is a time when we look within ourselves to see what areas of our lives need fixing. We do this, just as we would, to quickly repair a damaged roof and prevent further damage to our house. These external damages are easily seen, and steps can be taken to prevent them from getting out of hand. The damages to our soul need to be viewed with a different eye, but with the same intent, namely, to not let them get out of hand.

The purpose of Lent is to get us into the proper mood, the proper frame of mind. We focus on Christ and His suffering, His love for us. We rely on Christ’s example to help us reflect on the times when we know what we have done is wrong. Many different actions, could have the same problem at their core. We try to determine what that core is. But this task can be very difficult, and may take a lifetime to figure out.

Ok, we know what we have done, and we are still working on the why. What is next? When Chist said to His apostles, “Receive the Holy spirit whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them…”, He instituted the Sacrament of Confession, known now as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament which has been so maligned, so misunderstood is really based on Christ’s love for us. The priest, representing the community of the Church, is there not to be a judge or a lawyer, but to provide an avenue whereby you, the penitent, can receive the peace of absolution. Christ already knows your sins, so you are not telling Him anything new. Christ’s love for us is so complete that he provided this sacrament to allay our fears, not to bring them about. The priest, in this sacrament, hears what you have to say, guides you in ways that may help uncover the “why”, tells you something to say or do (a penance), and then absolves you from your sin. We perform the penance as a sign of our sorrow, our acknowledging of our wrongdoing, and our desire to not do it again.

Very often the question is raised about the priest as the middleman. “I can confess my sins directly to God. Why do I need to tell a priest?” When Christ instituted the sacrament of Confession, He did so for us. Through Confession we have the certitude, the absolute conviction, that Christ has forgiven us. We have no doubt. Could we say the same thing if we simply told Christ that we were sorry and not to the priest? Did I really mean what I just said to Christ? Did Christ really forgive me? Was I sorry enough for that sin? With Confession, Christ assures us that if the priest said I absolve you, then Christ also absolved us. He did this for us. He did this out of His love for us. He wants us to know that we can move on in our lives. In order to move on, we must truly know that we have been forgiven.