The sacrament of Reconciliation is probably the most talked about sacraments in the Catholic Church. Some have declared the death of the sacrament; while other want to see a revival of the sacrament, believing that to achieve this a greater emphasis needs to be placed on sin and hell.
This book explores the sacrament, focusing on the two people who confess - God and the penitent. God is the primary confessor when he confesses his forgiveness for and trust in the one who is celebrating the sacrament. The gift of freedom, the existence of hell and the role conscience are dealt with in the book while forgiveness and sin are discussed at length. The conclusion drawn about sin is that perhaps there are only two - the sin of Adam and Eve and the sin of the Innkeeper at Bethlehem.
Jean Vanier in his foreword to the book says: Somewhere, along the line, in the history of the Church, people have become more centred upon obedience to laws than upon this relationship with love with a person, with Jesus: more centred upon justice than upon love. This book flows from an understanding of Confession as a meeting of love and as a renewal of friendship.
How that friendship is renewed in the sacrament is explored in the book using the Rite of Penance and the example of St Peter in the gospel. These helps us to understand what happens in the sacrament and how best we can celebrate it.
Ultimately, the sacrament of Reconciliation is examined as Gods gift to us, where Gods humble forgiveness and great confidence in us are expresses. As we humbly seek forgiveness through the priest we make eye contact with God and are overwhelmed with his compassion.
This is an important and inspiring book for those who are hesitant about the sacrament.
Fr Paul Farren, a native of Clonmany in Co. Donegal, was ordained in 1997. He studies in St Patrick's College, Maynooth and in the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. He served as a curate in Derry City from 1997 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed Director of Religious Education in the Derry Diocese and the Director of the Catechetical Centre. He has been a vocations director in the diocese of Derry for the last 14 years. In 2006 he founded The Pope John Paul II award to help young people become more involved in their parish community.
While a much neglected sacrament, often ignored even by regular Massgoers, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is now receiving an image revamp thanks to a new book which challenges Catholics to rediscover the joy of confession.
Fr Paul Farren, the director of Religious Education in the Derry diocese, has said he wrote Confession: looking into the eyes of God from his own great love for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which he describes as an opportunity to find God’s love and healing.
Speaking at the launch of the book, Minster for Agriculture, Simon Coveney described himself as a Catholic and a regular Massgoer but admitted he had not been to confession in quite a few years.
“In many ways, confession is the most powerful of all the sacraments as it really engages you. It exposes you as to how you have let yourself down and let God down,” Minister Coveney said.
“This book talks about how confession is not about the procedure but about what is in your own head. This is powerful stuff, which gets you thinking more about your relationship with yourself. It challenges the decisions we make.”
- The Irish Catholic