(2.4) Penitential Act
One of the paradoxes in the Catholic life is that when someone acknowledges himself to be a sinner that he moves a step closer to God. King David, Job, Saint Peter and even the Penitent Thief who died beside Jesus on the Cross; they all confessed their sins, suffered and then the glory of God was revealed upon them.
Why is this so? Why does God look favourably on those who say they are sinners and yet condemns those who deny any sin?
Blaming others is very easy and quite natural for humanity but it does not necessarily makes us blameless. In the Beginning of man, the first sin committed by our ancestors was disobedience when Adam and Eve ate the Forbidden fruit. Their Expulsion from the Garden of Eden however was sealed when Adam decided to blame his wife; and Eve, in turn, blamed the snake for tempting her (Gen 2). Sometimes it makes me wonder on how different our life would have been it they only admitted responsibility and asked for forgiveness .
Let us remember the story of Saul. On his way to Damascus in a mission to prosecute the Disciples of the Lord; Jesus came to him as a “light from heaven flashed around him” (Act 9:3). He became physically blind and he neither ate nor drank for three days. But what he had lost physically, he gained spiritually - he was able to see the error of his ways which led to his transformation into one of the Greatest Missionary of Christ.
For sins are like dirt and smudge - we won’t see it if it is dark. When God shone his light upon Saul, he was able to see his mistakes and he became one of the most dedicated followers of Christ. If we allow the light of God to shine upon us, like when St Paul accepted Jesus in his life, then we will be more aware of our sins so that we may avoid sinning again and with God’s help, grant us forgiveness (cf Jn 8:12 and Jn 12:35).
So let us acknowledge our sins as it is written in 1 Jn 1:8-9:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The Penitential Rite has three basic components:
a) It starts with an Invitation by the Priest
b) Followed by any of the three forms of the Penitential Act
c) Finally, by the Absolution of the Priest