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The Sacrament of Reconciliation, also called Penance or Confession

“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1422).

This sacrament has several names for several reasons. It is often called Confession because we confess to the Lord our sins and tell Him why we are sorry. We also call it Penance because we promise to make atonement for our sins by doing acts that show our commitment to conversion (which we call Penance). This sacrament is also called Reconciliation because it helps return us to the love of God and makes us willing to respond generously to the Lord’s call.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps reconcile the bonds that we injure with God, the church (and other people), as well as ourselves. It helps us experience God’s mercy and love in a tangible way as we receive the absolution of the Church, which grants us pardon and peace.

For those who might have been away from the sacrament of Reconciliation for a while, or those who might need a refresher, the sacrament of reconciliation can be celebrated according to the following steps:

  • Make an examination of conscience by reviewing the sins in our life and seeking ways we’ve hurt God, others, or ourselves.
  • When entering the Reconciliation room, make the sign of the cross and greet the priest by saying, “Bless me father, for I have sinned; my last confession was _____ time ago.”
  • Confess your sins by telling the priest and God what sins weigh heavy on your heart. If you need help, ask the priest. Most importantly, place trust in God who is your merciful Father and desires to forgive you.
  • The priest will give you a penance to perform and then offer advice on how to strive to live a more Christian life.
  • Make your act of contrition, which is telling God you are sorry for your sins and you’ll try to do better. A very simple one is “Lord God, have mercy on me, a sinner” or you can use the Act of Contrition prayer.
  • The priest, who acts in the person of Christ, will absolve you from your sins, so make the Sign of the Cross and say ‘Amen.’
  • Go in peace as you are dismissed and be sure to follow up on the assigned Penance.

Click here for more information about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

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