What is Reconciliation?
Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in His love and mercy to offer sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God. At the same time, sinners reconcile with the Church because it is also wounded by our sins.
Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. In Reconciliation, we acknowledge our sins before God and His Church. We express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and His Church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future.
The forgiveness of sins involves four parts:
- Contrition: a sincere sorrow for having offended God, and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
- Confession: confronting our sins in a profound way to God by speaking about them —aloud— to the priest.
- Penance: an important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.
- Absolution: the priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to Himself through the merits of the Cross.
Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church. This is called an examination of conscience.
To make an examination of conscience:
- Begin with a prayer asking for God’s help.
- Review your life with the help of some questions, which are based on the 10 Commandments (click Parish Resources for preparation guides).
- Tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins.
- Make a firm resolution not to sin again.