The Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as the Sacrament of Penance, is often referred to as Confession. These titles are all aspects of the meaning of the sacrament.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a celebration of God’s love and mercy. It celebrates the call to repentance after a process of conversion of heart. During this sacrament, a Catholic confesses their sins in the spirit of true repentance and receives forgiveness of God through the ministry of the priest.
In the Catholic Tradition, the Sacrament of Penance is seen within the context of conversion from sin and a turn to God. Importantly, the sacrament is intended as an experience of God’s boundless mercy. Not only does the sacrament reconcile us with God, it also reconciles us with the Church, repairing or restoring the damage our sins have done to our communion with others. The sacrament challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for others. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: ‘It is in pardoning that we are pardoned’.
First Reconciliation for School-aged Children
St Ignatius Parish offers Penance for those children who are in year five or above and have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Penance is celebrated in the first term of the school year. Preparation for this sacrament is parish-based and family-focused.
There are three forms or ‘Rites’ for receiving the Sacrament of Penance. These are:
Reconciliation for Individual Penitents (Rite I)
In most churches there is a reconciliation room in which the person’s sins are forgiven. This room allows individuals to speak to a priest freely and privately, to recite prayers of contrition and to hear and receive God’s forgiveness.
Reconciliation for Several Penitents with individual confession and absolution (Rite II)
Many parishes provide opportunities for people to experience the sacrament of as part of a communal celebration. This form of the Rite begins with a celebration of the Word – readings from scripture, hymns, prayers, a homily and an examination of conscience, followed by a call to repentance. Private confession and reconciliation follow. The Rite concludes with a short thanksgiving, and a blessing and dismissal of the gathered assembly.
Reconciliation for Several Penitents with general confession and absolution (Rite III)
This form of the Rite follows the same pattern as Rite II, but does not include individual confessional and reconciliation. It includes a communal prayer of confession and general absolution. The use of this form is restricted to special circumstances where there is no opportunity for individual confession.