The sacraments are signs of penance and reconciliation

From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):

The second divinely instituted means which the church offers for the pastoral activity of penance and reconciliation is constituted by the sacraments.

In the mysterious dynamism of the sacraments, so rich in symbolism and content, one can discern one aspect which is not always emphasized: Each sacrament, over and above its own proper grace, is also a sign of penance and reconciliation. Therefore in each of them it is possible to relive these dimensions of the spirit.

Baptism is of course a salvific washing which, as St Peter says, is effective “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience.”151 It is death, burial and resurrection with the dead, buried and risen Christ.152 It is a gift of the Holy Spirit through Christ.153 But this essential and original constituent of Christian baptism, far from eliminating the penitential element already present in the baptism which Jesus himself received from John “to fulfill all righteousness,”154 in fact enriches it. In other words, it is a fact of conversion and of reintegration into the right order of relationships with God, of reconciliation with God, with the elimination of the original stain and the consequent introduction into the great family of the reconciled.

Confirmation likewise, as a ratification of baptism and together with baptism a sacrament of initiation, in conferring the fullness of the Holy Spirit and in bringing the Christian life to maturity, signifies and accomplishes thereby a greater conversion of the heart and brings about a more intimate and effective membership of the same assembly of the reconciled, which is the church of Christ.

151 1 Pt 3:21.
152 Cf Rom 6:3f; Col 2:12.
153 Cf Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16.
154 Cf Mt 3:15.

Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 27

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s