Thursday, October 13, 2011

Healing Through The Sacrament of Reconciliation: Book Review

About the Book

This book vivifies you to be grateful: that God is merciful, that his love heals, and that he gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It examines Confession in the light of the healing process. It presents impressions, clarifications, biblical verses, experiences, perspectives, testimonies of priests and of lay persons, forgiveness prayers, an examination of conscience, and the author's inspirations.

Chapter 1: God Reaches Out To Heal Us

Chapter 2: Demystifying the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Chapter 3: Courage To Accept We Have Sinned

Chapter 4: A Healing Sacrament

Chapter 5: The Saints and Confession

Chapter 6: Obstacles To a Good Confession

Chapter 7: The "Ideal Confession": Proper Dispositions for Confessing

Chapter 8: The Confessor: A Discerning Minister of Forgiveness

Chapter 9: The Examination of Conscience

Chapter 10: Confession, the Cross, and the Resurrection

Chapter 11: The Call of Mercy

Chapter 12: A Sacrament of Hope

You can purchase this book on all St. Paul's Bookstores.

About the Author

Ilsa B. Reyes is a full-time Church worker called to inner healing, intercession, and media. She wrote Affirmation and Healing Treasures and Inner Child Treasures. She co-hosts Salitang Buhay over DZMM Teleradyo 630 KHz AM station, Ch. 26 Skycable, Sundays, 9 to 10 p.m. with Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD and Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD, and is a facilitator of the ARISE integrative-transformative seminar-workshops. She has a Christian CD called The Treasure.

Where to Confess

For confession schedules, contact your local parish. I also recommend going to Sto. Domingo Church in QC, EDSA Shrine, Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, and Greenbelt Chapel (Sto. Nino de Paz Community)

My 'Confession'

First of all I find this little book on Confession very uplifting and I highly recommend it to anyone who is seeking a fresh perspective and a deeper appreciation of what this sacrament is really all about and in relation to one's personal struggle with sin. After reading the book, I realized that we are so blessed in the Courage community because once a month we are afforded the opportunity to go to confession via our Sacrament Sunday with our spiritual directors, and I thank the Lord for these priests who make themselves readily available to minister to our spiritual needs.

My love affair with the sacrament began sometime in 2003 when a close friend of mine told me that there was this 'good, old, and caring priest' (Fr. Greg Doherty) whom he often confesses to. It meant nothing to me at first but little did I know that God would use this priest as his instrument to call me back 'home.'

During those times and throughout my growing up years I was far from God and religion was something that I felt more of an obligation rather than a personal relationship. Back in my high school days, I can still remember how I often raised questions and objections to my religion teacher during our recitation class regarding Catholic teachings and doctrines which he explained to us well. It was not enough to convince me though as I was very close-minded. My misconceptions about the Catholic faith came from the preposterous line of reasoning and belief system that my father has subscribed on to. He was and is still very much anti-Catholic and this is one of the things that really saddens me. Whenever I reminisce about this I wonder how I managed to pass my religion subject, and how come I became like 'Saul' who persecuted the faith in my own little way. It was even more embarrassing for me because I practically was educated in a Catholic school from kindergarten to college! If there is one thing that I regret about the whole affair, it was the lost opportunity of celebrating World Youth Day in 1995 when the late Pope John Paul II came to Manila. Where was I at that time? Locking myself up inside our house watching the whole event unfold on TV while my classmates were out there having a great time meeting the WYD delegates and making friends with throngs of young people from all over the world. How alienating this experience was when they all came back from the event! I felt like a sore thumb among my peers.

On the other hand, even with my supreme ignorance at that time and my hostile attitude toward Church authorities and priests, it was a miracle of grace that I did not feel the same hostility towards Mary and the Saints as you would probably expect me to. I have always had a profound respect and admiration of Mary from the start and it must have been my saving grace.

In college and during the early years of my working life I was not living the faith, until one evening when I found myself alone in Sto. Domingo Church, feeling a heavy burden of guilt brought about by some grievous sins I committed and I was asking God for mercy. All of a sudden, I just felt a strong urge inside to approach the confessional where confession was ongoing. Suddenly, at that moment, I mustered the courage and strength to step inside the 'box' not knowing what to expect as I was a nonpracticing Catholic, and upon hearing the comforting voice of a priest I just poured everything out and found myself crying. When I stepped out of the 'box', I literally felt so light, free, and as if a very heavy load was lifted off my chest. Until now, that experience of being forgiven, even if I vaguely understand anything about it back then, is as real to me as it was years ago, and that started my journey back 'home' to the Catholic faith. The Sacrament of Reconciliation has become the doorway for me to re-enter the Church and be in full communion with her. After that experience, all my doubts and questions about the faith vanished by the grace of God and with the aid of good books that taught me about the truths of the faith. It was as if a very bright light illumined the dark corners of my mind that dispelled all ignorance and confusion away. It was a life-transforming experience indeed. By the way, I forgot to mention that the 'good, old, caring priest' who ministered to me at that precise moment in my life was no other than Fr. Greg.

I am still far from being perfect and I still have struggles until now. I will still have to approach the sacrament many times in my journey because I still fall and commit sin but one thing is for sure - that every time I step in and confess my sins to the priest, I know that Jesus in the person of the priest-confessor truly and unconditionally forgives me and welcomes me back to his fold, that healing, mercy, and grace is made available to me at that very moment. What a tremendous grace and what a gift! Thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful and beautiful sacrament.

I hope you were inspired today by my story of conversion. If you have been far away from God and are looking to find your way back, find a good priest and receive the sacrament of Confession and I can assure you that the angels in heaven will be rejoicing and that Jesus will be more than happy to welcome you back with open arms. God is always waiting for us to come back to Him.

"It would be an illusion to want to strive for holiness in accordance with the vocation that God has given to each one of us without frequently and fervently receiving this sacrament of conversion and sanctification." - Blessed Pope John Paul II


  1. Hello. Is Father Greg Doherty still at Sto. Domingo Church?

    1. Hi Anonymous!

      I used to confess to him in Sto. Domingo church many years back. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with him. What I know about him is he does missionary work in the island of Batanes. When you have the chance to drop by at Sto. Domingo Church, please ask the guard at the entrance of the convent and update me here. I miss Fr. Greg. God used this godly man to bring me back to the Catholic faith.