The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
From today’s Gospel reading (John 20:20-23).
Our Lord gave His own power to the Apostles to forgive or to retain sins. Validly ordained bishops and priests have Christ’s own power to forgive sins and they do so validly with the Church’s permission, indicated by a “faculty”.
There is no sin so great that any of us can commit that a confessor cannot absolve, for it is Christ absolving as the confessor absolves.
The penitential season of preparation for Easter may be behind us, but we must still examine our consciences and go to confession when our examen has brought mortal sin into focus. There are sins of commission and sins of omission, which as sometimes harder to discern.
Commenting on these verses of John 20, St. Jerome (+420) wrote:
You say that the Church was founded on Peter (Matthew 16:18), although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends on them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. (Adversus Iovinianum 1.26).
Our Lord gives us what we need so that we know we belong to Him in His Body the Church and so that we know that our sins have been forgiven.
Say a prayer of thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the gift of certainty about both membership in the Church Christ founded and also confidence in forgiveness for our sins through the Sacrament of Penance. And while you are at it, ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen the unity of the Church by bringing the SSPX into clearer unity with Peter and also to inspire a revitalization of the Sacrament of Penance.