Have you ever had one of
those moments where as
soon as something happened
you wished you could
change it? I had one of those moments
the other night. I’m not sure what
caused it. Maybe I was tired; maybe
the kids weren’t listening. The reason
seems inconsequential. All that matters
is that I lost my temper.
As soon as I did, I knew I messed
up. And in case I didn’t know it, my
three-year-old’s tears made it crystal
clear. Riley ran off to her bedroom and
slammed the door. I was left standing
there with no excuses, and more than
a healthy dose of guilt.
I immediately knew what I had to do
next. I headed to her room in search of
forgiveness. I sat down on the bed next
“I’m sorry, honey,” I said sheepishly.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you. There
was no reason for it.” There, I had confessed
my sins, but there was still more
to do. “I’ll try harder not to lose my
temper,” I continued.
And then my confession came full
circle when Riley—her face red and wet
with tears—gave me my penance.
“I don’t like it when you yell at me.
I don’t want you to do that anymore,”
she said. Oh, if all of life’s reconciliations
were that easy.
A Gift of Our Faith
Luckily, in our faith, it can be that easy,
thanks to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I love that our faith offers us this
reset button for the times when we
mess up. All we have to do is seek it out.
Of course, sometimes that’s the hardest
part. No one likes to admit to being
wrong and sometimes it’s not easy to
say, “I’m sorry.” Or we convince ourselves
that, as long as we say we’re sorry
to God, that will make it all better. You
know the old argument of “Why do I
have to confess my sins to a priest?
Isn’t it just as good to confess them
straight to God?” Well, that’s partly
Here’s an example. Last week, Riley
hit her brother, Alex. My husband,
Mark, and I immediately reprimanded
her and then made her apologize to
her brother and give him a hug. Now,
if Riley had just quietly said to herself
that she was sorry for what she had
done, a key part of the reconciliation
would have been lost. My husband and
I—serving as intermediaries—helped
her follow through on the reconciliation
That’s the role of the priest to whom
we confess our sins. He helps us wipe
the slate clean and move on, but not
before giving us a penance to remind us
to try harder next time and to remember
that our sins affect other people as
well as God.
While it’s a good idea to seek out the
Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is also
a good idea to practice it in our everyday
lives, too. Here are some ways that
this sacrament can become a part of
your daily life and your family’s also.
Get it out. Have you ever done
something that you thought you got
away with, but it keeps nagging at you?
Did you borrow something from someone
without his or her knowledge and
accidentally break it? If so, tell the person.
A lot of times what you imagine
might happen is worse than what actually
Sit down as a family after dinner one
evening and offer this opportunity.
Keeping the secret might be worse than
telling the truth.
Go to Confession. If you haven’t
taken part in this sacrament for a while,
make an effort to go.
Say, “I’m sorry.” As I said before,
saying “I’m sorry” is never easy because
it means we messed up. Try to make an
effort to own up to your mistakes and
make those words part of your vocabulary.
But also be aware of not saying it
just for the sake of saying it. You don’t
want to lose the meaning behind the