A student recently asked me why the Sacrament of Reconciliation was so important to Catholics. She furthered her inquiry by pondering on the concept that getting down on your knees is more than enough to confess your sins to God one on one. I told her that she was correct, but God’s mercy and love is more abundant than we can ever imagine. I told her that God uses all our senses: sight, taste, feeling, and hearing to encounter him. When we confess our sins to Jesus through his priest, we hear forgiveness and by hearing it — absolutely — we know that because of our penitent hearts and God’s unfathomable mercy —- we are forgiven. Catholicism takes the whole human experience into its way of living and worship to Almighty God.
In Rome, only the the other day, new Swiss Guard recruits marched with full ceremony to pledge their allegiance to God and the pope as they joined the ranks of the smallest army in the world. Full of ceremony, because we offer God our best in culture and ritual as a way of worshipping Him and giving him praise that belongs to Him.
They were sworn in on the anniversary of the 1527 attack in which 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the pope. Through the intercession and protection of Saint Michael, may these men continue to guard the Church from all evil as they embrace the flag and recite:
“I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honourably serve the Supreme Pontiff Francis and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the see is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”