Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 26, 2004
Archbishop backs Reconciliation
Pastoral letter explores benefits of confession
By GLEN ARGAN
Archbishop Thomas Collins says he has found the sacrament of Reconciliation "to be an enormously valuable experience both as a confessor and as a penitent."
The archbishop says he tries to go to confession about every three weeks.
"The ability to start fresh is a very valuable thing."
And he also tries to hear confessions at St. Joseph Basilica on Saturdays from 4 to 5 p.m. as often as he can. "There is no time in my own priesthood that I feel such a spectator of God's grace as when I celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation."
One can see the action of God in the person's life as well as "the awesome freedom that comes from absolution," he said in an interview. "I am edified when I hear people's confessions by the humility and the depth. I am in awe of the people whose confessions I hear."
The archbishop spoke with the WCR Jan. 15 about his new pastoral letter Reconciliation: 'Go in Peace' that was released Jan. 6.
The letter is published on Pages 9 to 14 of this issue of the WCR. It is also available in a booklet format from the chancery office (469-1010).
The pastoral letter is an expansion of a series of seven articles Collins wrote for the WCR for Lent 2003. It also includes a lengthy examination of conscience taken from Rite of Penance liturgy.
It is Collins' second pastoral letter since becoming archbishop of Edmonton in 1999. The first was on the Eucharist.
"As bishop, I wanted to do what I can to share the wonder of the Eucharist and the incredible joy of the sacrament of Reconciliation," he said.
The archbishop said he is hoping to write one pastoral letter a year. He wants to write one on prayer, based on a series of Lenten articles he wrote for the WCR in 1999.
He is also considering writing a letter on each of the sacraments.
In the interview, Collins noted the decline in the use of the sacrament of Reconciliation in recent decades, although he did not mention that fact in the pastoral letter.
He said his approach is: "Give 20 per cent of your time to the problems and 80 per cent to the beautiful, glorious realities and the problems will disappear on their own.
"If people can just catch the fire and experience the glories of the faith . . . then that's the positive thing that will draw people to the great glorious realities of God."
In the pastoral letter, he urged readers to make a daily examination of conscience and an examination prior to making their confession.
The examination should be "ruthlessly honest," he told the WCR. "The fleeing from confronting our inner demons is deadly."