The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

Confessions from the Confessional: An Inside Look at the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation. [high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Confessions from the Confessional: An Inside Look at the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation

presentation at Adult Forum by
Evan Wescott
Peer Ministry Coordinator, Duke Catholic Center
February 26, 2017

Confessions from the Confessional

Thoughts and Sentiments on the Sacrament of Reconciliation


Why do Catholics need to tell priests their sins?

Questions that we hope to answer today:
(or at least address, if not answer)

  • How does this sacrament relate to the other 7 in Catholic teaching?
  • How does this sacrament actually happen?
  • Why do Catholics feel compelled to share their sins with a priest?
  • What significance does this sacrament have in 2017 AD?

Definition: A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace

And the seven are:

  • Sacraments of Initiation:
    • Baptism
    • Eucharist
    • Confirmation
  • Sacraments of Healing
    • Reconciliation
    • Anointing of the Sick
  • Sacraments of Vocation
    • Holy Orders
    • Matrimony

Why seven?

image of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Now it's your turn to try it out!

"But why would Catholics do this to themselves?..."

  1. It is a definitive encounter with the person of Christ.
  2. It frees us from mortal sin.
  3. It tethers us to the other major sacraments.

Questions and Problems in the 21st century

"Men have become like gods. Isn't it about time that we understood our divinity? Science offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny, yet instead of rejoicing we feel deeply afraid. Why should this be? How might these fears be resolved?" - Stewart Brand

"Is it not true that modern man is threatened by an eclipse of conscience? By a deformation of conscience? By a numbness or 'deadening' of conscience," Too many signs indicate that such an eclipse exists in our time... It is inevitable therefore that in this situation there is an obscuring also of the sense of sin, which is closely connected with the moral conscience, the search for truth and the desire to make a responsible use of freedom. When the conscience is weakened the sense of God is also obscured, and as a result, with the loss of this decisive inner point of reference, the sense of sin is lost .... "the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin." - Pope John Paul II

Just some numbers:

  • According to a Georgetown CARA study, a little over 1/4 of American Catholics receive Reconciliation at least once a year.
  • When asked about the statement "I can be a good Catholic without celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year," 62% of Catholics agree "somewhat" or "strongly," and 33% agree strongly.

A personal story

Let's chat!