Sacrament of Reconciliation

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:31-32) The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father. (1)

“The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” (2)

Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God. (2)

(1) Catechism of the Catholic Church [hereafter CCC], 2nd ed. (Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls, 2000), n. 1439.
(2) CCC, n. 1468.

Reconciliation at St. Lambert’s

Experience your own reconciliation with God through any of the times offered at St. Lambert’s:

  • Saturday: 3:00–4:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 6:15-7:00 PM (Sept through May only)
  • or by appointment by contacting the parish office

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Confession, Penance and Reconciliation?
Those three names are commonly used interchangeably for the Sacrament in which sins are forgiven.  The Sacrament is called “Confession” because the penitent makes a verbal confession of his or her particular sins.  It is called “Penance” from another element of the Sacrament – the good action that the priest asks the penitent to perform as a token of his or her sincerity, and as a way to bring some good into the world in reparation for the sin committed.  And finally “Reconciliation” refers to the final effect of the Sacrament:  the penitent is reconciled with God and the Church.

What is the origin of this Sacrament?
It is no exaggeration to say that the very reason that Jesus Christ came into the world was for reconciliation:  to reconcile us to the Father and to one another.  The very first message in the New Testament, on the lips of John the Baptist, was:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2)  After the death of John the Baptist, this message was taken up by the Lord Jesus.  During His life on earth, the Lord forgave the sins of various people He encountered.  And after His Resurrection, he told His Apostles to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His name to all the nations. (Luke 24:47)

Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?
This is founded on the clear instruction of the Lord.  After His Resurrection, the Lord appeared to His Apostles, breathed on them and said:  “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22-23)

Why can’t I just as well confess my sins directly to God?
Christ instituted the Sacraments as He did because we are physical creatures living in a visible world.  We know by seeing and hearing.  All of the Sacraments involve an actual encounter with a person who speaks and acts in the name of Christ (in most of the Sacraments, a priest) so that we can know what is happening.  In most of the Sacraments, no one objects to that.  For example, no parents ever want to internally ask God to give their new child the grace of rebirth; they want the priest and the water and the words, because then they know their child has been baptized.  Only in regard to Reconciliation are people inclined to become very “spiritual” and want everything to be internal, and only between them and God.  This is on account of our pride – which is also the root of every sin.  Humility is the way back to God; and the confessional is a great school of humility.

How do I prepare for Confession?
Before actually approaching the Sacrament, one makes an “examination of conscience.”  This is the effort to recall one’s sins – I look to see what is “on my conscience.”  It is often helpful to do this by using a published guide that reminds us of the range of typical sins.  There are many versions of such guides – often based on the Ten Commandments.

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