Sacrament of Reconciliation (Ordinary Time):
The sacrament of Reconciliation (also called Penance or Confession) confers grace of spiritual healing. Following our baptism we all continue to struggle with sin. Jesus taught us to pray,
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” 1
In one sense, all sins are of equal gravity in that, apart from the saving work of Christ, those sins separate us from God and eternal life. But following baptism, which washes away the stain of original sin and remits personal sins committed in the past, subsequent sins may merely weaken our spiritual life, or they may destroy our spiritual life:
“If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that.” 2
Mortal sins are those of grave matter, committed in full knowledge of the sinfulness and with full consent. They are, in effect, a turning away from God. We cannot merit grace of our own efforts, but it is certainly possible to squander it. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation restores life to one who has committed deadly sin.
Jesus instituted this sacrament when he gave his disciples (and to priests) the authority to forgive sins:
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 4
And it became an integral part of the Early Church:
“Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure.” 5
All sacraments have a prescribed matter, form, and minister. For the sacrament of Reconciliation, the matter is sin, sincere contrition and confession of the sin, and the priestly words of absolution. The form is ” 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.” And the minister is Jesus acting through the priest.
The weekly schedule for Reconciliation at the Parish of St. Ann is in the right column of this page.
New Catholics receive this sacrament for the first time prior to receiving first Communion.