Last Wednesday night, my friend’s father was dying. Another friend of the family was preparing for heart transplant surgery. I was going to confession– the sacrament of reconciliation.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, I am choosing to die to my sins. I am asking God for a new heart. I’m getting my second (third, fourth…seventy time seventh chance) to begin again.

I dread critically looking at my life to where I’ve fallen, but I always feel better afterwards. In today’s world it’s so easy to rationalize our behaviors and point the finger of blame anywhere else but at me.  It takes courage to seek forgiveness and to be cleansed in an ocean of mercy.

I recently heard a definition of sin that makes it easier for me to see where I have turned away from God. “Sin is knowing what God wants, but deciding to do what I want instead.” It may hurt others, but it hurts me more because in sinning I have freely chosen to oppose God. I’ve turned my back on the source of all blessings.

Only God can forgive sins, but it makes real to me when I hear his minister, the priest say:

“God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”