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From Sorrow to Joy: Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of Confession

September 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Mercy, Penance/Confession, Retreat Guides



The newest Retreat Guide from RC Spirituality, From Sorrow to Joy: A Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of Confession, is now available at

When the devil tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he directly contradicted something that God had told them. God had told them that eating the forbidden fruit would cause them to die. But the devil says to them, “You certainly will not die!” Adam and Eve believe him, and they eat the forbidden fruit and… Well, they didn’t die. They lived on for a long time, becoming the first parents of the human race.

So, was God lying? Of course not. Physical death did enter the human family with original sin, even though Adam and Eve didn’t die right away.

But biblical scholars point out that another kind of death did in fact happen right away: spiritual death. To live in communion with God is to be on the path of full, meaningful, everlasting life. To live separated from God—and that’s what sin does, it opens the door of separation from God—is to be cut off from the source of all life, joy and goodness. It’s a spiritual death.

Jesus, through his passion, death, and resurrection, went through that door himself, not because he sinned but because he loved sinners and wanted to come and save them. And then he opened another door, the door of mercy, which rescues sinners (and we are all sinners) from spiritual death and its many sorrows, if only we are humble enough to walk through it.

The easiest way to do that is to make good use of the sacrament of mercy, confession, and that’s what this Retreat Guide, From Sorrow to Joy, will explore.

  • The first meditation will explore what this sacrament reveals to us about God himself.
  • The second meditation will call to mind some extraordinary ways that God has revealed the beauty and the power of this sacrament.
  • And the conference will identify some common obstacles that keep us from getting the most we can out of confession.
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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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