THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION

Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.

•  It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.
•  It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
•  It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
•  It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.”
•  It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God.” He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”

“YOU were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.” But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” and the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,” linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.” Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.

Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, (is) at once holy and always in need of purification, (and) follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.” This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.

St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!”

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”

If you are in need of the Sacrament of Penance, confessions are heard on Saturdays at 3:00pm or you may call the rectory at 508-883-6726 to make an appointment.

Children in the religious education program will make their 1st Reconciliation as part of the 2nd Grade curriculum or when they are most ready. Please contact the religious education office at 508-883-2590 if your child needs to make 1st Reconciliation.

1st Reconciliation Curriculum Goals

•  To make the children comfortable with the idea of Reconciliation
•  To introduce the idea that rules are a vehicle of love
•  That the 10 Commandments are God’s special rules of love
•  To help the children form the concepts of sin and conscience.
Sin is deliberately choosing to go against God’s rules, the 10 Commandments.
Conscience is that inner voice that helps us to know the difference between right and wrong.
•  Emphasis is placed on helping children understand that the difference between actively choosing to wrong and accidentally doing wrong.
•  To present the overwhelming love and mercy of God
•  To present the need to repent and seek forgiveness Just as if a child has hurt a friend’s feelings or broken a family rule, they feel better once they’ve apologized and made things “right” with their friend or family, the same is true for their relationship with God.
•  To familiarize the children with the steps in the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Student Expectations

•  Attend Mass regularly
•  Attend religious education classes.
•  Learn the Act of Contrition and be able to understand sorrow for sin.


content courtesy of www.vatican.va