“It is … an appeal to God for a clear conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21)

While St. Peter is describing the Sacrament of Baptism here, he could just as easily be talking about Reconciliation. For what could pos­sibly be a better way to experience a clean conscience than going to con­fession? When we confess our sins, we are forgiven—completely!

But as we all know, the real chal­lenge is keeping our consciences clear after we have received abso­lution. It’s one thing to experience God’s forgiveness, but what will change us so that we don’t end up confessing the same things over and over again?

You may be surprised to find that the answer lies—again—in confes­sion! This sacrament doesn’t just empty us of the past; it also fills us with God’s grace for the future. That’s because in confession we meet the One who came to pardon our sins and to transform us so that we can be holy as he is holy. In con­fession, Jesus lifts the weight of our past sins from our shoulders so that we can go out into the world free from guilt, inspired by grace to say an even firmer no to sin than before.

Of course, we all face temptation, just as Jesus did in today’s Gospel. The good news is that because Jesus triumphed in the wilderness, we can find victory as well. How? First, by trusting that we are never alone. Jesus is with us in every sit­uation. Second, by knowing that he has given us the grace of confes­sion not only to forgive us but also to strengthen us against temptation. He is always teaching us, urging us on, and inspiring us with his grace.

So make sure you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. And when you do, know that the grace of this sacrament is there both to cleanse you and to fill you with divine power. It is an ongo­ing grace that brings you closer to Jesus and strengthens you against temptation.

“Thank you, Lord, for all the grace that comes with confession! Give me more confidence in your mercy and love.”