Sacraments of reconciliation

Church

The Sacrament of Penance, also know as the Rite of Reconciliation or Confession, is the “liturgical celebration of God’s forgiveness of the sins of the penitent, who is thus reconciled with God and with the Church. The acts of the penitent - contrition, the confession of sins, and satisfaction or reparation-together with the prayer of absolution by the priest, constitute the essential elements of the Sacrament of Penance” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 980, 1422, 1440, 1448).

Through the three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist) we receive the new life of Christ, but we carry this life in earthen vessels and remain subject to suffering, illness, and death. Moreover, this new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin. For this reason, the Lord Jesus - the divine physician of our bodies and souls - has given us two sacraments of healing: Penance and the Anointing of the Sick.

Sacred Scripture:
On the Day of His Resurrection, the Lord Jesus breathed on the Apostles, giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and proclaimed: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). This gift of grace to the Apostles allows mortal, sinful men to act as God’s instruments in the forgiveness of all sins committed after Baptism, and this sacred power is exercised by bishops and priests in the Sacrament of Penance when they hear the confession of sins and pronounce absolution for the remission of sins by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Sacrament of Penance is a sacred mystery of conversion from sin, confession of guilt, forgiveness of the wrong done, and reconciliation with Christ and His Church. All Catholics over the age of reason should come to the Sacrament of Penance at least once each year during Lent or Eastertide and as often as necessary when conscious of serious sin, and anyone conscious of grave sin should not receive Holy Communion before being reconciled to God by sacramental confession and absolution.

On the part of the sinner contrition, confession and satisfaction are required. Contrition is aversion to the sins committed. Perfect contrition remits sin even before confession if it is joined with the intention to confess. Imperfect contrition is sufficient if there is confession, and is a good and salutary thing.

Confession must cover all mortal sins (Sins committed knowingly (you know it is grave sin) and willingly (with whole heart and with full consent), on grave matters, and even though you had the choice of avoiding it but you did not) committed, not confessed before. Venial sins, and sins already confessed can validly be confessed. The effect of the sacrament is reconciliation with God, that is, the remission of sins and communion with the church.

Confessions at St Peter Church Confessions are heard every Saturday afternoon from 4:00 to 4:45, and anytime by appointment. For Christmas and Easter we have special confession schedules available.

How to prepare?
Some people find it helpful to prepare for confession by reviewing the 10 Commandments, others by examining the godliness of the three major sectors of their lives:

1. Relationship with God 2. Relationship with others 3. One's own self-discipline

We are only required to confess mortal sins, but the confession of venial sins and even of unwilled faults and failings opens our hearts to the strengthening grace of the sacrament, and attunes our consciences to the delicate voice of the Holy Spirit. 

As the Sacrament of Reconciliation becomes a more frequent part of your spiritual life, you will get to know yourself better, and examining your conscience will become easier.  

Most importantly, make your preparation for confession a heartfelt encounter with the God who loves you, who gave his life for you, who longs for your love. It can help a great deal to pray your act of contrition after you have examined your conscience and before you make your confession; this stirs up the proper attitudes for a fruitful reception of the sacrament. 

How to make good Confession:
On entering the confessional we should kneel, make the sign of the Cross, and say to the priest, "Bless me, father"; then add, "I confess to Almighty God and to you, father, that I have sinned." The first things we should tell the priest in Confession is the time of our last Confession. Then we should confess all the mortal sins we have since committed, and all the venial sins we may wish to mention since last confession. We should end our Confession by saying, "I also accuse myself of all the sins of my past life". After telling our sins we should listen with attention to the advice which the confessor may think proper to give and he will also give the penance. While the priest is giving absolution we should from our heart renew the Act of Contrition. When the priest finishes the prayer for absolution he will say "God has forgiven your sin go in peace" and we may say "Thank you father" and leave the confessional. Complete the act of contrition if not already and complete the penance.

Act of Contrition:

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.

Amen.