The Sacrament of PenanceThis is a sacrament of conversion. In it, we arereconciled to God and to each other. Because we are loved by God, and humans who tend to sin, we need the Sacrament of Penance.Penance frees us from sin andrestores our relationships with God and others.
Sin is Moral EvilChoosing to do something that weknow is wrong, that we know willharm ourselves, others and God, issin.
How grave is the sin? Venial sins are lesser sins, but by repetition can lead to mortal sin and/or a life of vice Mortal Sin requires three things: Grave Matter Full knowledge of the sinfulness of the act Complete consent – act is committed freely and deliberately
Steps for a good confession1. A sincere examination of conscience: What have I done (or not done) that has or is causing hurt? Sin always wounds someone. It is essential to be truthful with yourself. Use the booklet on confession, the 10 Commandments, or simply reflect on the relationships in your life with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, the poor and disenfranchised, yourself and God. There are also online video examinations of conscience on youtube.
Steps for a good confession2. A sense of justice: Spend some time thinking about what you have done – or failed to do – and what you would consider a just punishment if someone had done the same to you. Consider what you might need to do to repair/restore the wrong you have done.
Steps for a good confession3. A sense of contrition/sorrow: Why are you sorry for your sins? Fear of punishment? Acting out of anger or passion in ways you ordinarily would not? The harm you have done to yourself? The harm you have caused others? The hurt you have caused God?
Steps for a good confession4. A reflection on restoring the peace: What will it take to restore the relationships you have damaged to a peace-filled, loving relationship? What will you need to do? Say? What will others have to forgive? What would you like that forgiveness to look like?
Steps for a good confession5. After reflection, approach the priest At the Penance Service on March 17, there will be several priests. You can confess to any one of them. Start by telling the priest that you are joining the Church at Easter and that this is your first confession. He will help you through the sacrament.
Steps for a good confession6. Confess your sins All mortal sins must be confessed. Venial sins that are habitual or especially troubling should be confessed.
Steps for a good confession7. Say you are sorry. During a communal Penance service, the Act of Contrition is sometimes prayed together, or Use a traditional Act of Contrition (you can bring the booklet with you.) Or tell God you are sorry for your sins in your own words.
Steps for a good confession8. Listen to whatever the priest advises. At a communal Penance service, a general penance is assigned, but the priest may offer some advice pertinent to your situation.
Steps for a good confession9. Bow your head for absolution: The priest will pray the words of absolution, signing you with the Sign of the Cross as he does so.
Steps for a good confession10. Go in peace: Return to a pew for prayers of penance and thanksgiving to God for the gift of mercy before leaving.
Celebration of the Sacrament Penance may be celebrated as often as the penitent feels necessary. The Church requires us to celebrate this sacrament once a year, or any time we commit a MORTAL sin. In most parishes, a Penance Service is held during the seasons of Advent and Lent, and confessions are heard weekly, or by appointment with a priest. The minister of Penance is a priest or bishop. Ordinarily, Penance is celebrated before First Eucharist around the age of seven.
The priest then prays the words of absolution:"God, the Father of mercies, through the deathand resurrection of his Son has reconciled theworld to himself and sent the Holy Spirit amongus for the forgiveness of sins; through theministry of the Church may God give you pardonand peace, and I absolve you from your sins inthe name of the Father, and of the Son, and ofthe Holy Spirit. Amen.“As the priest says, in the name of the Father,…the penitent makes the Sign of the Cross.He will generally dismiss the penitent with“Peace be with you” or similar words.
After confessionPenance is done as prescribed by thepriest. It may be prayer, acts of charityor other acts intended to bring healingto relationships, restitution for wrong-doing and a habitual change in thesinner’s behavior. Regardless of thepenance, ordinarily the penitent spendstime in prayer immediately afterconfession.