Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in his love and mercy. It is here that we meet the loving Jesus who offers sinners forgiveness for offenses committed against God and neighbor. At the same time, Confession permits sinners to reconcile with the Church, which also is wounded by our sins.
The sacrament, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, is known by many names. The liturgical rite is officially called the Rite of Penance & Reconciliation.
“…the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin” (CCC no. 1423).
“…the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction” (CCC no. 1423).
“…the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a ‘confession’ —acknowledgment and praise— of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man” (CCC no. 1424).
“…the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent ‘pardon and peace’” (CCC no. 1424).
“…the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: ‘Go; first be reconciled to your brother’” (CCC no. 1424).
Why do we have to confess our sins to a priest? Can’t we just pray to God for forgiveness? If I sin but no one is affected then can I say, “no harm, no foul?”
These questions and more are answered in this edition of “Sacraments 101,” a web video series geared for those who’d like an introduction or refresher course on these important, tangible Catholic experiences of God.
The Sacrament of Penance (aka Reconciliation) is one of the healing sacraments, and celebrates the loving embrace of God when we turn toward him and away from our sins.
Requirements For First Penance Of Children:
Children should be encouraged to prepare for the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation as they near the age of seven.
Celebration of First Penance is to precede the celebration of First Eucharist. (CCC, no. 1457).
Parents are to be intimately involved in preparations for a child’s first reception of the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation.
Children at an early age should learn about and receive this precious gift. Children at the age of seven are certainly capable of understanding what is right, what is kind and charitable and what is evil, incorrect, uncharitable and selfish. The Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation is a positive instrument in developing a genuinely Christian moral sense in a child; it helps the child to want to do good, to be kind, but also to understand that when one fails, it is not the end; we can turn to God for forgiveness, for help, for the strength to try again.
For the celebration of First Penance/Reconciliation with individual confession and absolution for several children celebrating together:
The Sacrament should be celebrated as part of a Liturgy of the Word and may include signs, symbols, music, readings and prayers suitable to the age of those participating.
The celebration should be planned by parish and catechetical leadership.
Each child should have the option of anonymous or face to face confession.
Each child should be fully able to participate in the liturgical celebration as completely as possible.
After the initial celebration, regular opportunities for celebration of the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation should be made available to children who have celebrated first Penance.
Parishes must provide ongoing catechesis on the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation as well as ongoing opportunities for celebration of the Sacrament for these children and for their families.
Please contact the Faith Formation Office for information regarding preparation and reception of this Sacrament.