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Reconciliation

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Saturday, 3:00 - 4:00 PM - Immaculate Conception Church
Other Times by Appointment - Please call the Rectory (508-485-0016)

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also referred to as the Sacrament of Confession or Penance. Sin separates us not only from God, but from His family the Church. In this sacrament the person experiences a healing encounter with Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. The Lord’s forgiveness and mercy is infinite. In this beautiful sacrament, we receive the Lord’s abundant mercy, healing and grace and are given the strength to resist future temptation. Nothing we have done or could do can ever separate us from experiencing God’s forgiveness through this sacrament.

Christ commissioned the Apostles to forgive sins when he said: "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."  --John 20:23

At Ordination, our priests receive this same capacity to free us from our sins. The priest, In Persona Christi, represents the whole community of the faithful with whom we are also being reconciled. Catholics are required to receive this sacrament once a year. Especially appropriate times are Advent and Lent, which are penitential seasons; however, this sacrament may be received as often as necessary. Any Catholic who is aware of serious sin should receive this sacrament before receiving Holy Communion.

The Essential Rite of Reconciliation

There are four parts to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  1. Confessing sins -  The person desiring the sacrament confesses his/her sins to a priest or bishop. Part of their ministry is to be an agent of divine mercy. They hear our confession, perhaps offer some words of counsel.
  2. Penance - The priest will suggest some external expression of our gratitude for God's mercy and intent to avoid sin. Penance may take the form of a prayer or work of charity.
  3. Act of Contrition - Having confessed sins, the penitent must freely express regret for the sin. The Act of Contrition may be a memorized formula or may be spoken freely from the heart.
  4. Absolution - After expressing sorrow, the priest prays with the penitent and in the name of Christ absolves him/her of all sin. (The priest does not confer absolution unless the first three parts are present.)

Examination of Conscience

In an examination of conscience, before the Sacrament of Penance, each individual should ask himself or herself these questions in particular:

  1. Have I ever failed to confess a serious sin or disguised it?
  2. Have I been guilty of irreverence for this sacrament by failing to examine my conscience carefully?
  3. Have I failed to perform the penance given me by the confessor or disobeyed any of his directions?
  4. Have I neglected the Easter duty of receiving Holy Communion or failed to confess my sins within a year?
  5. Have I any habits of serious sin to confess first (impurity, drunkenness, etc.)?

Going to Confession

Prayer Before Confession

O Lord, grant me light to see myself as you see me and the grace to be truly sorry for my sins. O Mary, help me to make a good confession. The penitent and the priest begin with the sign of the Cross, saying: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The priest urges the penitent to have confidence in God. The priest may say: May the Lord be in your heart and help you to confess your sins with true sorrow.

The penitent then states: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (however many days, weeks, months or years) since my last confession.

The penitent then confesses his or her sins. For the confession to be valid, the penitent must confess all of the mortal sins he or she is aware of having committed since the last confession, be sorry for them, and have a firm purpose of amendment to try not to commit the same sins in the future.

After this, the priest will generally give some advice to the penitent and impose a penance. Then he will ask the penitent to make an act of contrition. The penitent may do so in his or her own words, or may say one of the following:

Act of Contrition

  • O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.
  • O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
  • Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

After this the priest will absolve the penitent in the following words: "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."

The penitent makes the sign of the Cross and answers: Amen

The priest will then dismiss the penitent with a short prayer and encouragement. The penitent should then try to fulfill the penance imposed if it is something that can be done quickly.
For more information, please see the Archdiocese of Boston video on celebrating the Sacrament of Confession.