Reconciliation

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy. It is here that we meet the loving Jesus who offers sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God and neighbor. At the same time, Confession permits sinners to reconcile with the Church, which also is wounded by our sins.

The sacrament, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, is known by many names. Sometimes “it is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion” (1423). But it is also better known as “the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction” (1423).

For many of us it still continues to be known as “the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament” (1424). At the same time, the Catechism reminds us that “it is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent ‘pardon and peace'” (1424). Finally, it is also called the sacrament of Reconciliation because it reconciles sinners to God and then to each other (1424). In this text, we will refer to the sacrament as the sacrament of Penance.

Through this sacrament, we meet Christ in his Church ready and eager to absolve and restore us to new life. The graces of Christ are conferred in the sacraments by means of visible signs – signs that are acts of worship, symbols of the grace given and recognizable gestures through which the Lord bestows his gifts. In the sacrament of Penance, the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of grace are the gifts received through the outward sign, i.e., the extension of hands and words of absolution pronounced by the priest.

Preparation for Confession:

Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We should harbor in our hearts a sense of sorrow for all we have done. The motivation for our sorrow may be out of love of God or even fear of the consequences of having offended God. Whatever the motive, contrition is the beginning of forgiveness of sin. We need to have sorrow at least to the extent that we regret it, resolve not to repeat it and intend to turn back to God.

With this disposition of heart, we should review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions to discover those that did not conform to God’s love, to his law or to the laws of the Church. This is what is known as an “Examination of Conscience.”

With this disposition of heart, we should review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions to discover those that did not conform to God’s love, to his law or to the laws of the Church. This is what is known as an “Examination of Conscience.”

Invitation to Trust in God: The priest invites the penitent to have trust in God using one of the formulas in the ritual or similar words. If the penitent is unknown to the priest, it is proper for the penitent to indicate his or her state in life (married, single, or clergy), the time of his or her last confession and anything else that may help the confessor in exercising his ministry.

Requirements for a confession

  1. An Active Examination of the Conscience especially of the mortal sins and Contrition: Sorrow for ones sins with a determination to avoid sin in the future. It is not a matter of feeling, a matter of will.
  2. Confession (disclosure) of Sins and Acceptance of Satisfaction: The penitent confesses his or her sins and takes responsibility for the wrongs done. Accepts the punitive disciplines that the priest proposes as a penance.
  3. Prayer of the Penitent and Absolution: The priest asks the penitent to express sorrow by praying Act of Contrition or contrition in his or her own words. The priest then gives the Absolution, to which the penitent responds: “Amen.”
  4. Proclamation of Praise and Dismissal: The priest continues: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” The penitent responds: “His mercy endures forever.” The priest then dismisses the penitent by saying “go in the peace of Christ”.
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