Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)
THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION
Rising Again to New Life
The peace of mind and soul which this sacrament imparts to us is one for which there is no substitute. It is a peace that flows from a certainty, rather than from an unsure hope, that our sins have been forgiven and that we are right with God. Jesus knew well that many of us would forget our brave baptismal promises and commit grave sins after our Baptism. He knew that many of us would lose the grace, the sharing-in-God’s-own-life which came to us in Baptism. Since God’s mercy is infinite it was inevitable that he would provide a second chance (and a third and a fourth and a hundredth if necessary) for those who relapse into sin. This power to forgive sin which Jesus conferred upon his Apostles was not, of course, to die with them; no more so than the power to change bread and wine into his Body and Blood, which he conferred upon his Apostles at the Last Supper. Through the ministry of priests the healing and forgiving power of Jesus continues and is today available to everybody who is sorry for sin and is willing to be reconciled no matter what they have done. The words of Absolution are spoken by the priest but since it is God himself who is acting we can leave the confessional with light hearts and a true inner peace.
To prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance it is good to spend a little time preparing for the sacrament. The suggested Examination of Conscience is offered as a framework for a review of lifestyle, attitudes and actions.
Examination of Conscience
How well do I love God?
• Do I ignore God or exclude Him from my life?
• Have I made false gods of money, power, work or prestige?
• Do I neglect my daily prayers or say them badly?
• Is my prayer a real conversation with God in mind and heart?
• Have I used God’s name in vain, anger or carelessly?
• Have I missed Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault?
• Do In play my full part in my parish community?
• Have I hidden my faith in the workplace or when Christian witness would have been appropriate?
How well do I love myself and my neighbour?
• Have I treated myself as a true temple of the Holy Spirit?
• Have I achieved a reasonable balance between work and home?
• Am I a basically selfish person? Do I forgive the faults of others?
• Have I been impatient, angry or jealous?
• Am I a racist? Do I despise and denigrate certain groups of people through prejudice?
• Have I always valued life and done all I can to protect it?
• Have I abused alcohol, drugs, or given a bad example to others?
• Have I driven carelessly so as to endanger my life of that or other people?
• Have I made inappropriate use of the internet, TV and printed material?
• Have I been dishonest by stealing or cheating?
• Have I been lazy at my work or at home?
• Have I been uncharitable or unkind in thought, word or deed?
• Have I told lies? Do I judge others harshly?
• Do I pray for my spouse?
• Am I critical of my spouse, putting them down in public or in private?
• Do I make an effort to foster and show my love and affection for my spouse?
• Do I try to make up whenever there has been a disagreement or do I allow resentment to continue? Am I too proud to say ‘Sorry’?
• Do I mistreat my spouse verbally, emotionally or physically?
• Have I neglected to pass on my faith to my children?
• Have I set my children a bad example by not bringing them to Mass, or being careless about my religious duties?
• Do I take care to ensure that my children do not witness arguments at home?
• Do I watch over the books they read, internet access and the television and DVDs/videos they watch?
• Do I take care to ‘befriend’ my children? Am I over-strict or over-lax with them?
• Do I explain decisions to them and so help them to grow to maturity?
For Young People:
• Have I done what I have been asked to do by my parents or teachers?
• Do I teat my parents with love and respect? Do I pray for them?
• If I live away from home, do I keep in touch with my parents and other members of my family?
• Do I quarrel with my brothers or sisters or other members of my family?
• Do I study hard and school or college?
• Am I grateful for the sacrifices my parents have made for me? Do I show my gratitude?
• Do I set my friends a good example?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
In our church we use the Lady Chapel. You may either take a seat facing the priest or kneel with the screen between you for privacy.
Penitent: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned: It has been (say how long) since my last confession.
Tell the priest your sins – simply, clearly and honestly. When you have finished say: “I am sorry for these sins, and the sins of my past life.”
The priest may give you some advice, and will give you a Penance (to be carried out later) and will then ask you to make an Act of Contrition which is said out loud. The prayers below or one of your own choice may be used:
Acts of Contrition
O my God, because you are so good, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you, and by the help of your grace I will not sin again. Amen
O my God, I am truly sorry for having sinned, because you are infinitely good and sin displeases you. I am firmly resolved, with the help of your grace, never more to offend you, and I will carefully avoid the occasions of sin. Amen
O my God, I am sorry and beg pardon for all my sins, and detest them above all things, because they have crucified my loving saviour Jesus Christ, and most of all because they offend your infinite goodness; and I firmly resolve, by the help of your grace, never to offend you again, and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin. Amen
The priest will then give you Absolution – finishing with: “I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit” (you make the sign of the cross as he recites these words) and then you respond “Amen”. You then go back to your place in the church.