Theology of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation only makes sense within the context of sorrow for sin, conversion from sin and firm purpose of ammendment to turn to God.  Even the apostles struggled to live as disciples of Jesus.  For example, Peter wept bitterly over his triple denial of Christ but received the grace of conversion and expressed it with a threefold confession of love for Jesus (cf. Lk 22:54-62; Jn 21:15-19). Paul was converted from persecuting Christians to becoming one of the greatest disciples of Christ who ever lived (cf. Acts 9:1-31). These moments of conversion were only the beginning of their lifelong commitment to living in fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the history of the Church, the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been celebrated in different ways but, there have always been two constant: the acts of the penitent and the acts of Christ through the priestly ministry of the Church. Conversion must involve a change of heart as well as a change of actions. Neither is possible without God's grace, which is the fruit of the Sacrament.