The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)

 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a continuation through the Church of Christ’s desire to forgive our sins and spiritually heal us.  The Gospel of John records that on the evening of Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples and breathed on them the Holy Spirit.  He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven and whose sins you retain they are retained.” [John 20:22-23]

The room for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is located in the vestibule area to the right of the main entrance.

 The Sacrament of Reconciliation is prayed:

  • Saturdays from 3:00pm thru 3:40pm.
  • By appointment.

Children preparing for the reception of First Reconciliation (Confession) do so through the Office of Faith Formation.

 

A “Walk Through” the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The priest is waiting, ready to welcome anyone who asks for forgiveness and Christ’s healing presence. The simple rite consists of a dialog between the priest and the individual penitent.  It is the same profound simplicity with which Jesus encountered people in his ministry of announcing the Kingdom of God.


 
Preparation for the Sacrament
Catholics are led to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) by feelings of remorse and the awareness of actions that caused hurt to others and by the desire to live a more holy life.  This movement of the soul called contrition includes a desire to start over, to move away from sin and be forgiven.  Contrition leads to an honest self-assessment of sins, omissions of the good that could have been done, and habits and attitudes that are harmful to us and the community. 

The church has called this internal assessment an examination of conscience.  We are guided in this process by evaluating our lives in the light of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1- 17), the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12), the parable of the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and the works of mercy we are called to live out as Christians.  Sin consists of a serious matter, done with an understanding of its seriousness and with sufficient freedom of will.  This preparation might be concluded with a prayer to God asking for the courage and strength needed for this spiritual step.  During this review of past behavior and attitudes we may have a question about sin.  Ask the priest!  He is there to assist us in our spiritual journeys. 

 

Going to Confession: the “How to…”
After the examination of conscience, we are ready to enter the sacramental rite. Many churches offer a choice of postures: a place where a person sits in a conversational attitude facing the priest or behind a screen which allows for anonymity.  All are welcome to choose the setting that is comfortable for them. 

  • The rite begins with the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  The priest will offer words of welcome and possibly read a short Scripture passage
  • The individual then tells (confesses) their sins, failings, omissions and attitudes that signify a broken relationship with God.  Speaking aloud the words of personal sinfulness is a crucial element of the dialog and unburdening of the heart.  In either setting, the priest may occasionally ask a question for clarification.   The sacrament is not a counseling session and a lengthy discussion is not expected. 
  • The priest then assigns a Penance which may take the form of prayers, an act of charity, or restitution.  The act of penance is an outward sign to us of our willingness to receive God’s grace and live a holy life. 
  • The penitent then prays an Act of Contrition expressing sorrow for their sins.  Options for this prayer are
    • expressing sorrow for your sins in your own personal words;
    • the Jesus Prayer: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” 
    • or the following prayer: 

“O My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with the help of your grace, to do penance, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us. In His Name, O Lord, have mercy.”

  • The rite comes to a climax with the words of Absolution prayed by the priest.  Through the priest, it is Jesus speaking and forgiving us. 
  • The sacrament concludes with the priest inviting the person to go in peace.  The response, “Thanks be to God” expresses the gratitude of the person, now forgiven.

Some final thoughts… 
Anything told to a priest during the Sacrament of Reconciliation can never be revealed to another person.  There are no exceptions to this tradition.  This is called the “seal of the confessional.” 

If you have regretfully had an unpleasant experience in the past with either a priest-confessor or just the sacrament, consider approaching again. Do not let the past limit your future.  And remember, no matter how long it has been since you have prayed the Sacrament, you can always return to God.  Recall the parable of the prodigal son?  The father runs out to his son, embraces and kisses him, dismissing the boy’s prepared excuses!  Love and compassion are what we are all called to live. [Luke 15:11-32]  In the same way, God is always waiting for you to return with open arms.

 

Scriptural Texts for an Examination of Conscience


The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:1-12
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.   He began to teach them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of
righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

The Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17
“Then God delivered all these commandments:

I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.  You shall not have other gods besides me.  You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.

Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.  Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.  In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

You shall not kill.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him."

 

The Parable of the Judgment of the Nations: Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'  Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'  And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least sisters and brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'

Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'  He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' 

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

 

The Baptismal Promises

Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?

  • While you yearn for freedom, do you offer it to other people?

           
Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin?

  • Do you allow yourself to be seduced by evil finding excuses for your sinful behaviour?

Do you reject Satan, the author of evil?

  • Who is the true Master of your life?

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

  • Who or what might be your God other than the Lord, our God?
  • How do you treat the gift of creation that our God has given us?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried,
rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

  • Do you believe and live your life in Jesus as your Teacher and Saviour?

           

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

  • Do you allow yourself to be led and encouraged by the Spirit in life’s decisions?
  • Do you forgive others who sin against you?
  • Do you affirm your belief in the resurrection of the body by assisting the poor, visiting the sick and dying, and by honouring your body with the care of your own health?

 

Want more information on the Sacrament?  Check out the Archdiocese of Boston.

www.thelightisonforyou.org

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