Yes! Unlike human beings, who get tired of offering forgiveness for the same offense over and over again, God never tires of forgiving, no matter what the sin, no matter how often it has been committed. God is ever faithful. He sent his Son to die for your sins and has purchased your salvation by his blood. Would he simply throw you out because in your weakness you keep jumping into the same puddle? Never! God will never abandon you. Period. This is part of the reason he gave the Church the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation. When the priest says, “I absolve you,” you are absolved! Forgiven! Reconciled! The question, then, is not so much about God’s forgiveness, but rather about our willingness to receive it.
Because God is infinite love and mercy, he is always extending that to us. As the sun shines light and emits warmth, so God shines mercy and emits love. But if the curtains of the window are closed how could light enter? Our hearts have to be open to receive the warmth of God’s love and mercy in order for it to have an effect in our lives. For this reason, the Church teaches us several things about how a person can receive God’s infinite mercy.
The first precondition is contrition. We must actually be sorry for the sins we have committed. God wants to forgive, but we have to want it too! Ideally, we should have “perfect contrition” for our sins, that is, sorrow of our soul, detestation of the sin, and the resolve to never commit that sin again on account of the love of God. Contrition that does not come from a love of God (e.g., fear of hell), is called “imperfect contrition.” God only needs a slight turn of the heart to enter and forgive, but it does us much more good to open wide the doors of our heart when he knocks.
The next thing required, if the sin is mortal, is confession to a priest. Reminder: A sin is mortal if the action is serious (grave), if the person has full knowledge that it is serious, and if he freely chooses to do it anyway. A sin is venial if one of those three criteria are not met. While a person can have all the contrition in the world, unless a mortal sin is confessed it cannot be absolved (the exception to this rule is if a person has perfect contrition and is actually unable to receive absolution from a priest before death.)
When a priest pronounces the words of absolution the sins are absolved. What’s not absolved is the responsibility to repair the damages (satisfaction) or the responsibility to do one’s part to “go and sin no more.” If, for example, a person has stolen something, has confessed it, and received absolution for it, his sin is absolved, but he still has to return that which was stolen, insofar as is possible. Similarly, if someone struggling with an addiction or habitual sin receives absolution, his sin is absolved, but he still has the responsibility to get the help he needs to be freed of that addiction or habit. The Lord will always uphold his end of the deal. Will we uphold ours?
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself, and he wants to reconcile you, too. He made you because he loves you, and he wants to be with you now and forever. He never grows tired of forgiving, even if it’s the same ol’ stuff over and over again. Freedom from sin is possible; that is God’s desire for you. There is no sin too deep, too grave, or too habitual that God cannot forgive. He wants to walk with you to freedom. Come to confession and hear those precious words of freedom spoken to you from the heart of Jesus: I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.