On December 2, 1984 Pope St. John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Exhortation on Reconciliation and Penance in the Mission of the Church Today. In this exhortation, he insists that in the modern world there is a loss of the sense of sin as a result of the voluntary clouding of the conscience; it leads a person to deny his/her personal sins and to deny that sin exists.
He states that the sense of sin is rooted in man’s moral conscience. Nevertheless, it happens that under the influence of many different factors, the moral conscience of many people becomes seriously clouded. Pope identifies that the modern man is threatened by an eclipse of conscience, deformation of conscience and numbness or deadening of conscience. When the conscience is weakened, the sense of God is also obscured and as a result the sense of sin is lost (Apostolic Exhortation on Reconciliation and Penance, no.18)
During this Lenten Season, it is spiritually profitable for us to reflect on our moral conscience and on our personal sins. What is personal sin? Personal sin is an act, performed out of free will and expressed in action or word or thought, which is evil. Such an act is an offence against God’s love and disobedience to His Divine Law. Sin, therefore, involves turning away from God. St. Augustine describes it as “love of self that reaches the point of contempt for God”.
If the human act involves grave matter, committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent, then such an act is called mortal sin. The consequence of the mortal sin is the loss of the state of grace. The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs that a person with mortal sin should not receive Holy Communion. Nevertheless, in so far as one would find not possible to go for confession, he/she, after making an act of contrition, can receive Holy Communion (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1457).
Let us prepare ourselves well to examine our conscience and get reconciled with God.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V