Jesus’ mission from the Father was to bridge the gap that separated us from God ever since the first sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus, God-with-us, does this by sharing our human life. He took on every aspect of our lives except sin including death. By dying on the Cross for our sins he freed us from the power of sin and by rising from the dead on the third day he restored us to life.
How to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is also known as “Confession”. The sacrament has four elements: three on the part of the penitent (contrition, confession, and satisfaction) and one on the part of the minister of the sacrament (absolution).
The sacrament is usually celebrated in the ‘Confessional‘, a small room or box arranged so that you may talk with the priest in privacy, either face to face, or from behind a curtain or screen. However, the sacrament can be celebrated anywhere.
Before celebrating the sacrament you will need to spend some time in prayer and preparation, acknowledging your need for God’s mercy, and ‘examining your conscience’ to find in what particulars you have strayed from God’s love and Christ’s way.
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation includes the following steps:
He may then offer you words of welcome or encouragement and pray the Sign of the Cross. He will invite you to trust in God. It is useful to let him know your circumstances; your family situation, your occupation, how long since you last celebrated the sacrament.
Then confess those sins, failings, attitudes and omissions which have damaged, disrupted, or destroyed your relationship with God and with people.
The priest may say a few words to help you think about a problem, encourage you to trust in God’s mercy, or suggest ways in which you could seek to change your behaviour, with the help of God.
He will suggest a penance of prayer or action by which you can express and acknowledge your need for repentance.
He will then ask you to express your sorrow in an ‘act of contrition’. After your prayer, he will pronounce the words of absolution, that your sins be washed away in the blood of Christ, and send you go out to sin no more. The words of Absolution are:- “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ” We respond, “Amen.”
The priest will say to you, “Go in peace.” Your response should be “Thanks be to God”
Times for Reconciliation – please see front of newsletter.
Like all the sacraments, Reconciliation is a gift so we need to recognise that when we sin we have to be prepared to make an effort to ask for forgiveness and turn back to God in sorrow, like the prodigal son.
Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32), long before we turn back to him, he is looking out for us, and as we approach him with sorrow and fear, he rushes out to embrace us with love.
Sin also has a social and spiritual dimension for us as the Body of Christ. As St Paul reminds us “If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it …” (1Cor 12:26). Reconciliation also restores our relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
Who can receive Reconciliation?
All the Baptised can and need to celebrate the sacrament. It offers healing of our sins, restoration of our relationship with God in Christ, and strengthening with his grace, the indwelling of his Spirit.
Those whose situation is out of keeping with a Christian way of life, in a way that they cannot or are unwilling to change, are thereby unable to use this sacrament of conversion and renewal.
Children are usually brought to the sacrament by their parents and family after suitable preparation in home, parish, and school. There is usually a chance to mark this with a first celebration of Reconciliation in the child’s church community, usually in Lent. The Parish works with families to prepare their child for the Sacrament.
How often should I celebrate Reconciliation?
As often as you are conscious of a serious failure or rift in your relationship with God.
Regular confession helps us review the state of that relationship, check dangers to it, and make choices that will help it and us to grow and develop.