Go in Peace
Young people give their testimonies about confession, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
St John Paul II: "When we go to confession, when we bring our sins to Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, we meet our Saviour in one of the most personal encounters available to us on earth. He receives us with gentleness and mercy and grants us the pardon we seek. He grants us the grace of conversion and renews our minds and hearts with his light and peace. In this way, he prepares us to be peacemakers in the world." (1986)
Papa Francis, at his first Angelus (as Pope): "Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient .. He always has patience, patience with us, he understand us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart .. He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all."
Many thanks to Joe Zambon for the gift of his music: 'Fighting the Lukewarm Cold'.
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Kelly, 15 & from Sierra Leone & Kenya: "I like confession because it helps you release all of your sins and you feel like you can trust God more and you can let go of everything and can like begin to settle down. And it just helps you tune into your faith more because you can understand God more and know that He loves you."
Emily, from the United Kingdom: "I suppose confession can be a struggle and difficult and sometimes embarrassing but I know that God has really used it in my life to affirm me of his love for me. And suddenly I find myself not thinking about my failings and my faults but somehow realising quite how much He loves me and has reached out to me in the Sacrament through his priests, for which I am always deeply grateful and so touched. "
Emmett, 23 & from London: "Confession is liberating. It allows you to speak from the soul and gives you inner peace. So, who doesn't want that?"
Perrine, who's 28 & from France: "This is a feeling that remained a long time in my heart. I always had this fear because I think that I didn’t really encounter God at that time, I didn't know that Jesus was a complete loving God, that he was all goodness and he wanted me to be good also and beautiful. And then one day I realised it and this feeling of fear disappeared and it was transformed also by time. Then one day I kind of realised that I wanted to go to confession, this is something I wanted because I knew that behind the priest was God, was Jesus, and Jesus loved me. .. I'm always moved by this experience. I know that I'm weak, I know that I still do things wrong, but I know that God loves me and he wants me to be better and he will help me doing that and confession is that. "
"J’imagine Jésus derrière le prêtre qui m’accueille, qui me pardonne et qui est là pour moi, pour m’aimer, pour me dire 'Perrine, je t'aime, je t'aime. Je veux t'apprendre comment aimer mieux, comment je veux te voir dans le bonheur, t'enlever de l'esclavage du péché qui te fait du mal, et te recevoir et t'aimer et te pardonner toujours, toujours, car Dieu pardonne toujours. Merci Seigneur."
Phil, who's 30 & from the UK: "I feel a lot of resistance going to confession but I make myself go anyway, go regularly, because I know that God wants me to go, and He's kind of breaking me and molding me. I kind of get caked up and clogged up, but going to confession I will become loosened and supple spiritually again …
His grace will mend me and keep me going, because it's really important."
Erin-Thérèse, who's 31 & from the USA: "This particular priest, after very patiently listening to my confession, just asked me ‘So, you were an atheist. How did you come to the Church?’ Instead of launching into the ordinary form of absolution in a rote way, he really wanted to talk to me about my faith. It was difficult to think of a quick answer to such a big question but after a second I simply said ‘Well, I could no longer deny the reality of God in my life and I fell in love with Jesus Christ.’ I’ll never forget the wisdom that that priest showed in giving me the opportunity to go back to that place of first love and of first conversion, in the midst of spiritual trouble. That was exactly what I needed, and that's what the confession, the Sacrament, is for; it's to remind of the love in which we're rooted, the transcendent love of God that has the power to heal anything."
Dominic, who's 33 & from Poland: "Just two years ago I started to look closer to God. God appeared in my life stronger than He did in the past. It was more that I started to see Him and He started to show me that the life I was living, I always knew that I wasn't happy but He emphasised changes in me and He gave me faith to be thankful for the change that appeared in me, and it was really strong. … Just before we got married, I went to confession and I felt much, much better and I felt that God had taken everything from me. I felt stronger to get on with my life, I felt stronger to say 'no' to my addictions, I felt stronger not to do the things that Satan is giving us. Yes, I felt much stronger and then it was just better and better, and I started going to Communion, and my life is much, much easier now than it was before the wedding. It is now 1 year and 3 months and it's really good, even though I'm still a sinner, I'm still going on my knees because of my sins, but I know I have to come up, I have to feel sorry, but I can't allow myself to feel down for too long, as I used to do before - I was very miserable and felt sorry for myself. But I'm trying not to do that anymore, and I feel strong inside me and I feel God in me and in the people around me. .. And God is healing me every day since that day, and even before, and I'm thankful to God."
Jack, who's 26 & a seminarian from Washington in the US: "One of the beautiful things that I remember about it that I will never forget is as I was leaving, I told Father Mahoney 'That's why I came into your office last night and this morning was for this confession.' That was the only time that he got angry, was he said 'Never again put off confession.' He just knows the power and showed me the power that is the forgiveness of sins that is granted to a priest through the Holy Spirit and through the Church. It's not always easy, it didn't make me perfect (far from it), but it did in a real way introduce me to Christ's love and his compassion for all of us. So thanks be to God for that."
Emma, who's 19 & from America: "My biggest struggle was just vulnerability in Confession but a passage in Scripture that really has helped me slowly overcome this struggle to be vulnerable is the passage of Mary Magdalen, where she goes into Simon’s house whilst he’s having dinner with Jesus, and she pours this expensive oil over Jesus’ feet, she cracks open this alabaster jar. And the vulnerability of this act is amazing and she says nothing but lets the Lord defend her. Simon gets up and says ‘If you knew this woman, you would not let her do this, Jesus.' But Jesus stops him and says 'Those who are forgiven little, love little, but those who are forgiven much, love much.' And I had a hard time knowing my desire for forgiveness but I've always known my desire for love. This passage has shown me that my desire for forgiveness, the more I am forgiven, the more I can love, the more my heart is broken open to love more people. And so I've slowly been able to be vulnerable in Confession by just knowing that the more vulnerable I am, the more my heart is broken open to love others. So I just encourage you to not be afraid in Confession because your heart is made to just love more than you can imagine, and this Sacrament is where you go and meet the love of your life and he breaks open your heart."
Kevin, who's from Australia & is the director of the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome: "There’s real truth in this saying that if everyone went to confession there’d be hardly any need for psychologists any more because I really find that not only do I find that I’m spiritually cleansed but this process of examining my conscience helps me to see what is true in my life and what is false, and where I am living according to what is good, even according to the standards of the world. Basic things like, Am I living well in my relationships with other people? Am I being honest in my dealings with people? Am I working as I should? Am I examining my daily life for where I can be better? These things are very human things, not just Catholic things. So for me the Sacrament of Confession is not just a source of grace and spiritual nourishment but it's a real way to live my life in truth. Praise the Lord."
Stephen, 27 & from the United States: "Just as we’re really human and whenever we say we’re sorry, it’s part of the process of making that better is hearing someone else say ‘I forgive you’. And the fact that Christ handed the keys onto Peter and those keys have been handed on through papal succession through the bishops to the priests they've all delegated. So whenever I go to confession and tell the Lord I'm sorry, it's truly Christ that I hear say 'I forgive you and I love you."
Peter, 20 & from Virginia in the United States: "Confession is fantastic because I feel, given our human state of imperfection, it’s an invitation from Christ for us to come back and reconcile with Him and to his will."
Matthew, 21 & from Brecon in mid Wales: "What I’d emphasise about confession is really the freedom that it gives us. Sometimes a feeling of peace, sometimes no feelings, but it’s just that knowledge that those things that we struggle with all the time are never too big for God, they are never a lasting obstacle between us and Him. But the obstacles that we put in place, we need to remove, those hurdles or for those bigger sins, the walls that we build between us and Him and the shadow they create onto us. And confession just gives us the chance to knock down that wall and to say ‘God, I want to be back with you, face to face, with no obstacles in between us.’ So really I’d emphasise the love that God has for us, the peace that that gives us and the freedom to live as children of God."
Brian, 20 & from Washington DC: "I really like the Sacrament of confession. I think it’s an amazing Sacrament coz it really makes you feel a lot better afterwards, you know, and it’s crazy how like God’s mercy and how He really does truly forgive you of everything, it just blows my mind."
Kate, 20 & from the UK: "I think confession is something that I find particularly hard, I think a lot of people find hard. It’s admitting and talking to someone about your wrongdoings and something that you’ve done wrong. And I think it’s natural for everybody to shy away from admitting what you've done wrong. But I think confession is a brilliant way of creating a new start for yourself, a new way to go into life and to look at life differently and maybe to change you, if you're not happy with the way you've lived your life so far. It's a definite point where you can turn round and say that that was your starting point to becominga new person and living life the way Christ has taught."
Phil, 20 & from the UK: "Confession I never find easy to do, it’s never easy to face up to your faults and wrongdoings but I always find that coming out of confession, after being absolved of my sins, I feel a closeness with God that's unmatched to any other time. It's at that point when I'm reconciled with God and I know that He knows that I'm sorry for what I've done, and I feel renewed and strengthened to be more like Christ in everything that I do."
Collette, 24 & from England: "Earlier this summer I was in Walsingham and I went and made a life confession with a priest there. It was pretty life changing. I opened my heart to God, something I'd never done before, I'd been to confession many times but I'd never been honest with God and never been honest with myself I suppose. I just really put it in the Lord's hands and opened my heart to Him, and the love and mercy that I experienced through his vehicle, through his instrument the priest, just left me absolutely speechless."