The sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing. The Sacrament of Reconciliation has been known by various names including Penance and Confession. While both names are valid Reconciliation emphasises the important aspect of the Sacrament which is the ‘making one’ (reconciliation) of an individual with the community and with God. It expresses the way the sacrament wipes away the hurt that sin causes in our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.
Through this sacrament God strengthens us to live as he wants us to live. This Sacrament is about conversion and change. Conversion doesn’t just happen; it is a process, a change of heart that turns us away from sin and towards God. It is a journey which we need to travel day by day. However on that journey we are never alone; we are surrounded by the community and prayer of all the Church.
The Four Major Moments of Sacramental Reconciliation
Our sorrow for fault and a desire to change our lives.
We ‘confess’ or make public first of all the goodness of God’s love in our lives; it is in the light of this goodness of God that we approach the Priest and speak of our sins, asking for God’s forgiveness and for the Priest’s guidance in our living out of the Christian life.
To show the gratitude that we have in our hearts for the love of God our Father, and also the seriousness of our desire and intention to turn from our sins, we accept a ‘penance’ – prayer or some act of practical charity.
In the name of God and of the Church, the Priest prays a prayer of forgiveness which ‘absolves’ (cleanses, washes away) our sin.