In this time when many of us have a profound need to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation our bishop has suspended the celebration of the sacraments of reconciliation and anointing of the sick except in danger of death, and so the following question has come up a lot:
● The sacrament of reconciliation is not a public gathering. Why can’t I receive this sacrament?
This is an excellent question and so the bishop has given us a well thought out answer;
In the interest of minimizing the risk of spreading the contagion, we have suspended the practice of this sacrament unless danger of death is present. It is important to remember, “The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God” (SC 59). At this moment, the practice of this sacrament would not build up the Body of Christ because of the inherent danger posed in the possible transmission of the virus from priest to penitent, penitent to priest, and penitent to penitent. In this time of increased stress, isolation and anxiety, each person should make a daily examination of conscience and a sincere Act of Contrition, which obtains forgiveness of all sin, even “mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (CCC 1452).
These extraordinary times have caused bishop Steven to make an extraordinary decision for the common good. This causes us another reason for grief during these trying times. We should be understanding of how difficult this decision was for bishop Steven and take to heart his recommendation that we examine our conscience every day and make a sincere act of contrition. Let us remember that God has already forgiven us when the priest is giving us absolution. He does not need the priest to forgive sins. There is a very grave reason for us now that is causing us not to be able to go to confession. Let us pray fervently and examine our consciences regularly and let God know of our failings and sinfulness so that he will forgive us. Then, when we are able to receive absolution from a priest we will truly be ready!