What is Penance / Reconciliation?
Having been made in the image of God we are fundamentally good. However, being human, we fail and we sin. God forgives us and supports us through grace given in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Sin wounds the soul, and therefore this sacrament is one of healing and a celebration of God’s merciful love. It calls for the conversion of the baptized, and therefore is a sacrament celebrated by those who are already baptized into the Catholic Church.
This Sacrament is known by several names:
Confession: Confession is the first part of the sacrament, when a person tells their sins to a priest. It is a “confession” – acknowledgement and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward us.
Penance: This reflects the fact that we must convert our hearts back to God and change (repent). It suggests an act of doing penance, which is an external behavior that flows from true repentance, which helps us change our behavior.
Reconciliation: In this sacrament we are reconciled with God, the church, and with others.
How do I go to Confession?
You may go to Confession behind a screen or you may sit in the chair and speak to the priest face to face. After the priest greets you, you make the sign of the cross. The priest may choose to recite a reading from Scripture or he may greet you and welcome you. You then simply tell him how long it has been since your last confession and begin to tell him that which you wish to confess.
Tell your sins simply and honestly to the priest. If there is something in your life that you believe leads to your actions, include that in your discussion with the priest. At this time you can ask the priest for advice if you wish.
Listen to what the priest tells you. He will give you a penance. It may be a prayer to say or something to do. Then say an Act of Contrition (sorrow) for your sins. You may the prayer that you have learned, or you can simply tell God that you are sorry and will not sin again. You may read the Act of Contrition prayer from a card if needed.
The priest, who is united with the intention and charity of Christ, will then give you absolution. Some priests will dismiss you with the words of praise: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.” You respond: “For His mercy endures forever.” The priest will then conclude: “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.” You respond: “Thanks be to God.”
Spend some time in church thanking God and praising Him for the gift of His mercy. Try to do the penance the priest gave you as soon as possible. If it was a prayer, you should stay and say that prayer before leaving.
Why do I need to go to Confession?
Sin is real, and we find it everywhere, including our personal lives. It has many effects:
- Sin alienates us from God and from His creation through abuse of His gifts. In sin we choose ourselves over God.
- Sin alienates us from ourselves. We lose our identity as God’s children and we lose our integrity.
- Sin always affects others, no matter how personal or private. It leads to discord.
Why do I need to go to Confession?
A priest is available in the Church for Reconciliation every Saturday from 4:00pm to 4:45pm, or by appointment. Check the parish calendar for communal penance services during the seasons of Advent and Lent.
Joining Us on the Journey
If you – or someone you know – would like more information about the Catholic faith, please call Fr. Dave at (440) 256-1412.