Editorial | Here's the score: heaven 1, hell 0

It's right there on the page-one masthead of this newspaper: "The Archdiocese of St. Louis -- Helping you get to heaven."

Proof of that help is Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's new pastoral letter on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, "Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician." A perfect fit for Lenten reflection, the pastoral letter points out that sin means something is deeply wounded in us and we have weakened or ruptured our relationship with God. In the Sacrament of Penance, God's desire to heal us meets our desire to be healed.

Archbishop Carlson states that our culture promotes tolerance. In this cultural view, nothing is wrong so no one needs to be forgiven. Pope Francis contrasts that by explaining that mercy also has two underlying points: something is wrong and someone needs to be forgiven.

Each person needs to look at herself or himself and determine whether something is wrong that requires forgiveness. Every person longs for mercy and in Christ, God shows us compassion, Archbishop Carlson writes. "Each one of us -- and every person we run into during our day -- thirsts for communion with God. In Christ, we see that God thirsts for communion with us."

Prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with our thirst, and the Sacrament of Penance continues the healing mission of Jesus Himself. "By whatever name one wishes to call it -- Confession, Penance, Reconciliation -- and in all the varying forms it has taken throughout the ages, the underlying reality of this sacrament has remained and still remains the same: It is the privileged way in which our desire to be healed meets God's desire to heal us," Archbishop Carlson writes.

Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to return to confession and even modeled the practice at a Lenten penance service last year in St. Peter's Basilica.

Make this the time to visit the confessional and celebrate the tender loving mercy of God.

Resources

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's new pastoral letter on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, "Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician" can be ordered at $1 each by contacting Theresa Orozco at (314) 792-7507 or online at archstl.org/store. It also can be read online at www.stlouisreview.com/YXm.

For information on "The Light Is ON for You," the archdiocese's initiative on celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation with help on how to make a confession and the numerous opportunities to take part in the sacrament during Lent (list of dates, times and parishes), see www.archstl.org/confession. 

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