You readers know I’m a skeptic when it comes to any notion of “exceptionalism” in generations–good or bad. When I read observations about a loss of a sense of sin, I think, “That’s not new. That’s always going on.”
177. Benedict XVI reminds us that “a love for the Eucharist leads to a growing appreciation of the sacrament of Reconciliation”(Sacramentum Caritatis 20) We live in a culture marked by strong relativism and a loss of the sense of sin which leads us to forget the need for the sacrament of Reconciliation in order to worthily approach receiving the Eucharist.
It is not a mark of a particular culture, but rather the human condition to lose or lack a sense of sin. That said, the following guidance is always helpful and appropriate:
As pastors, we are called to encourage frequent confession. We invite our priests to devote sufficient time to offering the sacrament of Reconciliation with pastoral zeal and merciful hearts, and to prepare worthily the places of celebration, so that they may express the meaning of this sacrament. Likewise, we ask our faithful to appreciate this marvelous gift of God and to approach it in order to renew baptismal grace and to live more authentically the call of Jesus to be his disciples and missionaries.
Good, this: the connection to baptism, grace, and the work of discipleship.
We bishops and priests, ministers of reconciliation, are particularly called to live intimately with the Master. We are conscious of our weakness and of the need to be purified by the grace of the sacrament which is offered to us so that we may identify ever more with Christ, Good Shepherd, and missionary of the Father. As it is our joy to be fully available as ministers of reconciliation, we ourselves must also frequently approach, on our penitential journey, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For a deeper look, remember to check the English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.