By Kavya Maddali | Staff Writer

The chapel was dimly lit during last Wednesday’s reconciliation service creating a reflective space. (KAVYA MADDALI/COLLEGIAN)

On a brisk Wednesday evening at 8 p.m., members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered together in the Chapel for a communal reconciliation service.

For those less familiar with the Catholic practice, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as confession, is the practice of privately confiding one’s sins and receiving absolution from God through a priest.

Upon entering the Chapel, attendees were blessed with the breathtaking view of the altar, dimly lit by candles. The warm smell of incense welcomed attendees to come together and celebrate the glory and mercy of God. The service featured Eucharistic adoration, prayer, communal praise and worship, emphasis on silent individual reflection, and an opportunity to individually partake in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

There were a handful of people praying together all around the Chapel and the sense of penance was intimate and deeply self-reflective. Rather than the familiar “muscle-memory” flow of Mass, this service was profoundly focused on one’s own actions. It reminded those present to reflect upon their actions and strive to be more than just the best versions of themselves. It called those present to turn away from sin and receive God’s mercy.

Most importantly, the service emphasized that people stray from God’s path quite often, but the acknowledgment of wrongdoing and seeking forgiveness is crucial for putting themselves back on the road to God. This concept can be practiced by anyone with a set goal in their mind.

Father Hai Ho, the chaplain at Saint Mary’s, explained that reconciliation is “a mending of relationships that have been broken. It is a chance for us to forgive, seek forgiveness, and renew our trust in God’s unending gift of forgiveness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a graced moment of encounter with God’s boundless love and mercy in a personal and concrete way.” When asked why receiving reconciliation is so crucial in one’s journey, Father Hai replied, “We do not live in isolation just for ourselves.  Everything we do, whether good or bad, affects others around us.  When we hurt others in word, action, or inaction, we are invited to follow the example of Jesus to forgive and seek forgiveness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us the chance to acknowledge our failures, heal our wounds, become whole again, and be strengthened by God’s mercy to begin anew.”

Lent gives worshippers a particularly unique opportunity to receive and celebrate the mercy and forgiveness of God together.

The Mission and Ministry Center has been offering Eucharistic Adoration and Confession every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. since the beginning of last Fall Semester.

There is a special emphasis on this service during the Lenten season.

“Of course studies are important,” Fr. Hai said, “They can help us plumb the depths of the mysteries of self, others, and the divine. However, in the grand scheme of things, the relationships we build with others are essential to our recognition of the holy presence of God. Reconciliation helps nourish those relationships with God and with others.”

For those interested, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered every Sunday in the Chapel from 7-7:45 pm. Students can also contact Father Hai or other priests on campus to request time for confession.

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