First Reconciliation is normally completed in 2nd grade
(For information contact your parish office)
Reconciliation, one of the sacraments of healing, is the means through which the Church continues Jesus’ work of salvation. It is a sacrament of continual conversion, by which we obtain God’s mercy for the offenses committed against God, and at the same time, are reconciled with the Church which we wound by our sins. (CCC, 1422)
Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is God’s gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. In confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the Church. The Sacrament helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). While all the Sacraments bring us an experience of the mercy that comes from Christ’s dying and rising, it is the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is the unique Sacrament of mercy.
“If we say, ‘We are without sin’, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. For we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for those of the whole world.” (1 Jn 1:8-9)
This sacrament is also referred to as the Sacrament of Confession or Penance. The Sacrament is a healing encounter with Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. The Lord’s mercy, healing and grace are given to us through this encounter. In it Jesus also strengthens us to resist future or ongoing temptation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a moment of accountability for us and before the Lord. The Lord’s forgiveness and mercy is infinite. Nothing we have done or could do can ever separate us from experiencing God’s forgiveness through this sacrament.
A sin is any choice we make that harms us or others. Sin by its very nature injures us in our relationships with our self, with others and most especially with God. It deprives us of God’s grace. Just as we could not effectively fix our own broken leg, neither can we be healed of serious sin by our own devices. When we confess our sins aloud to a priest, we allow the healing power of Jesus Christ – the great physician of souls – to come upon us. We open ourselves fully to His mercy and love. This special ministry was entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, and the priests they ordained to minister to God’s people after them. Sin separates us not only from God, but from His family the Church. The priest in Confession represents the whole community of the faithful with whom we are also being reconciled.
Any Catholic who is aware of serious sin should partake of the Sacrament of Confession. All Catholics should make at least one good Confession a year, the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent being an especially appropriate time for this. Catholics who have deliberately missed Mass or otherwise freely disregarded God’s law should not receive Holy Communion until a good Confession has been made.
Before Reconciliation: Examine Your Conscience
Every good Confession starts with a sincere sorrow for one’s sins and a desire for forgiveness and a new life in the Lord. Before approaching the sacrament, one should make a good Examination of Conscience – an honest review of life.
How to Go to Confession:
When you enter the confessional, Father will begin by making the Sign of the Cross. Then you begin by saying the words, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been ___ weeks/months/yrs since my last Confession. These are my sins . . .”
Be confident in the knowledge that your Confession is under a seal of absolute secrecy, and that no sin is beyond God’s desire and power to forgive.
At this point the priest may ask you for clarification and/or offer you spiritual counsel. He will then assign you a penance – prayers or actions to be completed after you leave the confessional.
The priest will then ask you to make an Act of Contrition. A sample Act of Contrition is provided below, but you may use any version or even use your own words as long as they express sorrow for sin and an intention to avoid sin in the future.
Finally, the priest will give you absolution, speaking Christ’s own words of forgiveness. When he says “In the Name of the Father…” you should make the Sign of the Cross. After your confession, say your penance as soon as possible.
Above all, try to approach the Sacrament of Confession with confidence in God’s mercy. If it has been a long while since your last Confession, know that the Church (and the priest) rejoices at this new grace moving in your life. If you are not sure how to confess, just tell that to the priest and he will happily guide you along.
An Act of Contrition:
“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 my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Your grace to confess my sins, to do my penance, and to amend my life. Amen.”