Some Basic Steps in Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance:
- We enter the room where the Reconciliation is to take place and exchange a greeting with the priest.
- We can either sit face-to-face with the priest or remain anonymous behind a screen. Many people worry that when they confess their sins the priest sees them at their worst. When you tell your sins to the priest and express your desire to repent, the priest sees you at your best. Many Catholics, once they tried it prefer the face-to-face option.
- We should always begin by making the sign of the cross and placing ourselves in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- It is good to tell the priest if this is our first Reconciliation or when our last Reconciliation took place. We should also let him know if we are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the process so that he can assist us.
- The priest may then say a prayer or do a reading from Scripture that speaks of God’s faithful love.
- Either you would begin, or the priest may invite you, to say whatever is in your heart: sins, fears, joys, questions, doubts.
- The priest may discuss these with you to gain further insight so that he can provide guidance and suggestions for growing closer to God and begin the healing process.
- The priest will generally suggest a penance – something that you might do or a prayer you might say to show or express your conversion.
- Now is when you turn once again to prayer. You will tell God that you are sorry for your sins. This may be a prayer that you know by heart, you may pray in your owns words, or you can recite one of the prayers below referred to as an “Act of Contrition.”
- The priest then prays the prayer of absolution. If a screen does not separate you he may place his hands over your head as a gesture of healing and invocation.
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and 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.”
You answer – “Amen”.
The priest will then say something like: “Go in the peace of Christ.”
We respond, “Amen” or “Thank you, Father.”
After we leave, when appropriate, we fulfill the penance that we received.