Also known as Confession, or Penance, the sacrament of Reconciliation celebrates the Church’s mission of healing. Reconciliation centers on spiritual healing; it forgives our sins. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, hears our confession and provides our absolution from our sins in the name of Jesus. In essence, Jesus has heard our confession and wants us to be healed of our sin and guilt; he wants us to be reconciled with those we have hurt and with our God. As with all sacraments, we receive grace to help us sin no more.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful stories in the Gospels is that of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
Also called the Parable of the Lost Son, we read how the “wayward” son is on his way home to ask for his father’s forgiveness. “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” He orders a celebration to begin, “because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.”
This story reminds of the unconditional love and generous mercy that God offers us, despite our sins and failings. Jesus teaches us that our God is a Father who cares about us no matter what we do, and wants us to be reconciled with Him and with each other, within our family and community.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, with a sincere desire not to sin again. The priest listens, provides words of comfort or encouragement, and asks us to perform a penance, an act to show that we sincerely want to keep from repeating any sin. We are reminded of God’s great mercy and love for us, and are healed as the priest says the words of absolution: “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.”
When and where does St. George celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation?
Confessions are heard every Saturday afternoon from 3:30 until 4:00 pm in the Reconciliation Room Reconciliation is on the right of the front vestibule. You have the option of sitting in a chair, face to face with the priest; or you may enter the room and kneel behind the louvered partition, giving you more privacy.
You may also request a private appointment for the Sacrament.
When will my child make their first penance, or sacrament of reconciliation?
Children at St. George Church normally make the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the fall of 2nd grade.
When should I go to confession?
The Church teaches that there are two kinds of sin: mortal and venial. Mortal sin is a deliberate and free choice of something known to be gravely wrong that destroys our friendship with God and separates us from him. For something to be a mortal sin: 1) it must be something gravely wrong; 2) it must be done with full knowledge of its gravity; and 3) it must be done with deliberate consent of the will. For example, murder, adultery, and theft would be considered grave or seriously wrong acts.
When a sin is mortal, one must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Eucharist at Mass.
Venial sins, on the other hand, are less serious transgressions that offend and wound our relationship with God, but do not destroy it. Although not required, we are encouraged to confess venial sins during Confession.
The Church asks that we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year. It is best to celebrate it regularly and whenever the need is felt. According to An Examination of Conscience prepared by the Knights of Columbus in 1999, “monthly confession is a healthy and effective means of growing closer to God and leading a balanced, Christ-centered lifestyle.”
It’s been awhile…how does Confession work?
First of all, the fact that you are thinking about going to Confession is a sign that the Holy Spirit is leading you to be healed and reconciled. Please take comfort in the fact that we have a merciful God who loves you and wants to be close to you. The priest will help you during the Confession if you are unsure what to say or do.
Step One: Prepare by examining your conscience
Our first step is to examine our lives and recognize our sinful thoughts, words, deeds, and failings; not only what we have done, but what we have failed to do. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help you remain honest and sincere in your self-review.
There are many useful guides to do this. The Knights of Columbus have composed a very helpful brochure for examining your conscience.
Click here to see the KofC reconciliation preparation guide.
Step Two: With sincere contrition, confess your sins to a priest in the Sacrament
Once you have entered the Reconciliation room, begin your confession with your own words, or something similar to this, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been _____ (period of time: weeks, months, years) since my last confession, and these are my sins.”
Be thorough and honest, making sure to confess all mortal sins, and then you may also confess venial sins. If you are not sure if something is a serious sin, requiring Confession, ask the priest and he will advise you.
The priest may ask you some questions, or offer some advice.
Step Three: Pray the act of contrition
The priest will ask you to say an act of contrition prayer. Contrition means “sorrow,” and it reflects the deep regret we have that our sins have hurt God, others, and ourselves. Contrition also implies that we want to change our lives and sin no more.
The act of contrition may be in your own words, or follow a traditional formula, such as:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
Step Four: Do penance
Before the priest absolves you of your sin, he will ask you to do a penance. This may be to recite some prayers, or perhaps perform an action. Our penance is our way of telling God that we are truly sorry for our sins, and that we sincerely want to avoid future sins.