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The Sacrament of Mercy

August 30, 2022

Questions Answered: A Rhode Island Catholic Interview with Rev. Ryan Connors, S.T.D.

Rhode Island Catholic recently interviewed Father Ryan Connors about the Sacrament of Penance. Father Connors serves as Professor of Moral Theology at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. He holds a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Sometimes non-Catholics and even some Catholics don’t understand Confession. What is it and what is it for?

Confession is a great gift Jesus entrusts to His Church. The Sacrament of Penance is where we meet the mercy of God. The Lord knows our weakness and so instituted the Sacrament of Penance to forgive grave sins committed after Baptism and give us the strength to live united to Him. In Confession, we receive an infusion of God’s grace, the infused virtues, and a help that comes from nowhere else to live in God’s friendship.

What is the role of the priest confessor in this Sacrament?

The priest stands in so people can hear they are really forgiven. Christ entrusted to His apostles — the first priests and bishops of the Church — the duty of forgiving sins (John 20:23). Priests stand as the instruments of God’s reconciling power to restore sinners to friendship with God in His Church. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, priests uniquely stand in the person of Christ to effectively forgive sins.

What are people supposed to say in Confession?

What people often don’t understand about Confession is that it is not so much about forgiving this or that sin as much as it is restoring a person to God’s friendship. Confession reconciles sinners to God. For that reason, it means that one cannot get one sin forgiven but still cling to some other sin. For the dynamics of the Sacrament to function it requires that a person be open to the riches of God’s mercy, confessing all grave post-baptismal sins not yet brought to Confession.


Article originally published in The Rhode Island Catholic, August 25, 2022

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