The Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as Penance or Confession, is that moment of grace whereby one receives the forgiveness for sin won by Jesus Christ on the cross. This sacrament is celebrated to renew the life of grace begun in baptism. Those who follow Christ are called to live lives free of sin. For every Christian the goal is to enter the heavenly paradise, but as the scriptures relate “nothing unclean will enter it.” (Rev. 21:27) Therefore, this sacrament provides the forgiveness of Christ and a remedy for sin. All Catholics are urged to celebrate this sacrament whenever they are conscious of serious sin.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation begins with an Examination of Conscience in which we ask the Holy Spirit to help us think about how we are doing with following God’s will. Next, we confess our sins to God by telling them to the priest in private. It is important to make sure that we confess all sins, especially mortal sins to the priest. A mortal sin is when what we do is seriously wrong, we know that it is wrong and that it is forbidden by God, we freely choose to do it. Other less serious sins are called venial sins in which we do not completely turn away from God’s love but they still weaken our relationship with God and they ourselves, others and the Church.
The priest will advise us on how to live each day as Jesus wants us to. The priest will never tell anyone what he hears in confession.
We follow this with an Act of Contrition to tell God we are sorry for our sins and that we will try harder to avoid sin, follow the will of God and to love others as God teaches us. Our penance can be a prayer or a good deed that the priest tells us to do to make up for the hurt caused by our sins. We do the penance the priest gives us to show God that we are sincere in our repentance and that we want to change. Doing penance helps us avoid sin and grow closer to God.
Absolution is the priest giving us God’s forgiveness, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He makes the sign of the cross over us and says in part, “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.” We respond, “Amen.”
Regular confessions are scheduled in our parish church at the following times:
Advent and Lent Reconciliation Services are also offered.
The parish priest also welcome calls to celebrate the Sacrament at other times and will do his best to accommodate those seeking the Sacrament.
Children preparing to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time normally do so during their second grade year of school. Our Sacramental Preparation Program is designed to assist parents in fulfilling the commitment they made at a child’s baptism “of training them in the practice of the faith.” While this program is important, nothing is more important than the example that parents themselves give to children and the faith they share with them. These are essential for a child’s understanding of what we are teaching them in the context of our Parish CCD Program or Bishop Fenwick School classrooms.
In order for a student to be eligible to be prepared for First Reconciliation, he/she must be baptized. In addition, the student must have completed at minimum one full year of formal religious instruction prior to the formal instruction the student would receive in order to partake of the sacrament. At this time, this formal religious instruction may be through either enrollment in our CCD program, Bishop Fenwick School, or an approved home school curriculum. Further, during the year of sacramental preparation, the child must be enrolled in either our CCD program or Bishop Fenwick School. It is our policy at Saint Thomas Aquinas that children participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion for the first time. Parents of children preparing for First Reconciliation attend a series of classes designed to increase their own understanding of the sacrament as well as to assist them in preparing their children. Older children may be prepared separately from the second graders.
For further information, please contact our Director of Faith Formation.
Please refer to our Becoming Catholic (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults) program for more information.