As the Jubilee Year of Mercy came to a close on the feast of Christ the King, the enthusiasm of this homage to divine mercy seems to have diminished among us, Catholics. What did we receive from observing the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy? This writer contends that Catholics should never underestimate the graces bestowed on us through God’s goodness. Now that the Jubilee has come to an end, let us take solace that mercy has not.  In fact, the principal fruit of mercy is healing, a grace which all of us seek at some point in our lives. In this series, I would like to point the reader to three areas where this is found: reconciliation, the Eucharist and supportive relationships. Let’s start with the first arena of healing, the sacrament of reconciliation. The names of the individuals in the series are fictitious, to protect their identities, the events are real.
Part One:  Healing through
reconciliation
One Saturday afternoon, I was hearing confessions and a young man came into the Reconciliation Room. He told me that he was home from college and living with his mom, a single-parent, and his younger sister. Jack confessed that he has trouble obeying the Fourth Commandment because his mom treats him as if he were still in high school.  “Father,” he said, “if I go out with my buddies, she wants to know where I am going. If I take a girl out, she tells me to remember my manners and no fooling around. If I am lying in bed past eight o’clock in the morning, she calls me down for breakfast. I’m used to having my independence. I miss my freedom, Father.” And I said to him: “Well, did you ever think that your mother misses you? She only has you and your sister. And no matter how old you get, you will always be her son and she will always be your mother, who only wants what is best for you. Why don’t you try to see things from her perspective?”
Confession is a great vehicle of healing. That young man had obviously been repressing his sins in self-absorption. I could sense his frustration about boundaries and his lack of freedom. Because he could not articulate what was weighing on him until he confessed his inability to follow the Fourth Commandment, this college student often found himself sparring with his mother.
Closing ourselves to the divine may replay in our own hardness of heart. We may try to couch our sinfulness in the busy rhythm of our work-a-day world. We can always come up with excuses why we are too busy to get to confession. We might even add: “Well, I say a good Act of Contrition before I go to Communion.” That’s great but one cannot absolve oneself of sin simply by saying “God, I’m sorry.” Why not? Our sins not only offend God but also his Church.
In fact, there is a correlation between forgiveness and healing. Jesus wants to set us free from feeling like something is holding us back from becoming the person God created us to be. Our Lord wants to heal us of our brokenness suffered in relationships and mend the wounds left by sins, whether these were committed by act or omission.
In the confessional, Jesus, through the vehicle of his priest, invites us to shed all traces of denial and unveil those areas of our lives where we fell short of the mark. Jesus then restores us to communion with God and with each other, who are the Church. And he puts us in good standing with God, just as Our Lord had done when we were baptized.  In the sacrament of reconciliation Jesus does not just acknowledge our sins, he actually removes them from our being through the life-giving words of absolution.  At the same time, he gives us grace to avoid the near occasion of sin in the future and the gift of his peace.
The young man sent me a note from his college to thank me for the advice I had given him in the confessional. He told me that his relationship with his mother vastly improved after he tried to see things from her perspective.  Personally, I believe that his relationship improved as he heard those healing words “…through the ministry of the Church, I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Amen.
Father Comandini is the advisor to The Catholic Spirit