The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation
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The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification.                             
- Catechism of the Catholic Church


The Sacrament of Reconciliation

A brief presentation in Pictures and Quotations - by Catholic News Agency


The Sacrament of Penance

Short video by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.


That Catholic Show - I Confess

An explanation of the sacrament of reconciliation.



Confession 101 - part one

What is it & how to do it (even if it's been a long time) 
From Busted Halo, online magazine for spiritual seekers


Confession 101 - part two


What is it & how to do it (even if it's been a long time)



Act of Contrition

An act of contrition is a prayer that expresses sorrow for sin.  It is prayed during the sacrament of penance.  The act of contrition may be a memorized prayer, or be read from a prayer card, or be prayed in one's own words.  Here are three versions:  

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 Your help, to do penance,
to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Your Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen! 


Lord Jesus, Son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.


Lord God,
in your goodness have mercy on me.
Do not look on my sins, but take away all my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart and renew within me an upright spirit.



Formula of Absolution

The words of absolution spoken by the priest in the sacrament express the essential elements of the sacrament:

God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.




Two Rites or ways that we celebrate the Sacrament of Penance


I.  Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents

You meet individually with a priest in a reconciliation room or other place.  You may be seated and speak face-to-face with the priest, or you may kneel behind a divider or screen.

Welcoming the Penitent

The priest greets you. You make the sign of the cross. The priest invites you to have trust in God.

Reading the Word of God

The priest may read a short passage from the Bible.

Confession of Sins and the Acceptance of Penance

You confess your sins to the priest. He may offer counsel. Then he gives you a penance – something to do or pray as a response to God's mercy and to help amend your life.

The Prayer of the Penitent and the Absolution

You pray an Act of Contrition – from memory, by reading, or in your own words. The priest then extends his hand over your head and says the words of absolution which announce God's forgiveness.

Proclamation of Praise and Dismissal

The priest says something like 'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,' and dismisses you.



II.  Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents

with Individual Confession and Absolution

In this rite, a group of people assembles in the church to celebrate the sacrament at the same time, with communal prayer, reading, and song.

Introductory Rites

You join the community in song. The priest greets the assembly and offers an opening prayer.

Celebration of the Word of God

One or more Scripture passages are read and the priest preaches a homily. A period of time may be given to make your own examination of conscience. A priest or reader may make brief statements that help you recall and reflect on your sins.

Rite of Reconciliation

Everyone bows or kneels and says a form of general confession, 'I confess to Almighty God…'  This is followed by a litany and the Lord's Prayer.

Then you have an opportunity to go by yourself to one of the priests to confess your sins confidentially. The priest gives you a penance – something to do or pray as a response to God's mercy and to help amend your life. Then he extends his hand over your head and says the words of absolution which announce God's forgiveness.

You return to your place in the assembly. When everyone is finished, the congregation may sing a psalm or song of praise. The priest says a prayer of thanksgiving.

Dismissal of the People

The priest blesses and dismisses the people.


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The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

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