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. Amen
(The prayer of Absolution)
Forgiveness is at the heart of our Christian faith. During his ministry on earth Jesus called people to ‘repent’, which means to turn away from sin. There are examples of his forgiving people’s sins, for example, the paralytic, the woman caught in the act of committing adultery. His last words from the cross in Luke’s Gospel are, ‘Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’
Initially Baptism was the Sacrament that forgive sins, but very quickly it became apparent that even after baptism Christians were capable of committing serious sin. The first mention of a separate ritual for returning to the Church after serious sin comes in the 4th century when the emphasis was on completing a ‘penance’ before being readmitted by the Bishop. This Ritual became one of the Seven Sacraments and was known at this time as Penance. Sometime later the emphasis was on making sure that the penitent ‘confessed’ all their sins, especially the serious ones, and the Sacrament was known as Confession. Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) the emphasis has been on the penitent being ‘reconciled’ to God and the Church and the Sacrament is known as Reconciliation.
Whatever title we use for this Sacrament, Penance, Confession, Reconciliation, all of us are in need of God’s forgiveness, and sometimes it is good to celebrate this forgiveness by formally confessing our sins to a priest, receiving an appropriate penance, proclaiming our sorrow in an act of contrition, hearing the words of absolution and being assured of our reconciliation with God and the Church.
In this parish the Sacrament is celebrated on Saturdays after the 10.00 am Mass and on request. In Advent and Lent there are Deanery Services of Reconciliation.