When we do something wrong and then later feel sorry about it, we want to make up for it in some way. This is a sign that we will try to do better in the future. The priest gives the person a penance to fulfil. Sometimes it is a prayer to say or sometimes the priest might ask the person to do something extra. Then, after the person prays an Act of Sorrow, the priest raises his hands as a sign of God’s love and says the words of forgiveness and absolution. He asks God to forgive and absolve the person from their sins. To be absolved of sin means to be free from sin. Those sins are no longer part of your life. This is what the priest says:
I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
This sacrament is a special way to experience God’s love and peace. The person usually stays in church or in a quiet place to say their penance, if it is a prayer. They will thank God for this opportunity to experience his love and forgiveness and promise to try to do better.
Time to think and reflect.
What does it mean to be absolved?
Why does the priest raise his hands?
Who does the priest ask to forgive and absolve their sins?
Why do you think there is a choice for the priest to give a prayer or an action for the penance?
Reflect on some of the ways you wish to do better. Write a prayer about this and the help/support you seek from the Holy Spirit.
Activity 5 – Penitential Rite 1 and 2.
There are two different ways of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Rite 1 and Rite 2.
In Rite 1, individuals will make their Confession to the priest. Before they do that, they will have prayed and thought carefully about their life, have contrition and want to make a new start. They will tell the priest their sins and listen carefully to his advice.
Sometimes Rite 2 of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is used. This often happens in Advent and Lent when people gather together to prepare for the feasts of Christmas or Easter. In Rite 2, a number of people come together for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, often with a few priests who have come from neighbouring parishes. There is a service of prayers and readings, which help people to prepare. They are then invited to make a personal confession to one of the priests available. Sometimes schools will have a Penitential Service with the opportunity for confession, Rite 2. Whatever a person talks to the priest about is in absolute confidence. They can feel that they are talking to God alone. When the confessions are finished, the priest invites everyone to thank and praise God for his mercy and forgiveness.
Have a look at the pictures below and then think about the questions:
Write your own prayer which could be used during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also called Confession, Penance and Sacrament of Forgiveness. This Sacrament has been given to us to confess or acknowledge our sins, seek forgiveness and be reconciled to God and one another. It is like a bridge. It helps Christians to live as followers of Jesus, knowing that forgiveness leads to joy and peace. In this sacrament, those receiving it may be sure of the love and mercy of God.
The most important thing that people preparing to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation need is to be sorry for their sins. There is a special word for this – ‘contrition’. When you have had a quarrel with someone, you can never make up unless you are really and truly sorry – that is, if you have contrition. It’s about realising the consequences of what you have done, the hurt you have caused to others, as well as to yourself. When you have contrition, you will try very hard not to sin again and there will be peace in your heart.
God expects us to build bridges with our family and friends before we can take our place in church. Read what Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel:
So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that another has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with that person, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Matthew 5: 23-24
Think and Reflect:
Think of ways in which being sorry might be expressed in our daily lives and how you might have contrition. Explain how people might feel if they did that.
Take time to pause and reflect. Write your own prayer of sorrow to God. It is called an Act of Contrition.
Sin and Examination of Conscience.
People get lost when they deliberately do something wrong, hurting others, themselves or the world they live in. That is what is called ‘sin’. It is anything deliberately chosen – to think, say or do. It is also anything you choose to do or not to do that spoils or breaks the friendship with God and with other people. Sin is anything which breaks bridges of love.
Read the passage from Mark 12: 30-31 and think about the questions below:
Remember a time when you have reached out to someone you have hurt or offended. Describe how the bridge was broken and give reasons for how you rebuilt the bridge.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation brings us back to God, who forgives us and absolves us from our sins. God’s mercy and love is like the tenderness shown in the story below. We can be sure God loves us.
Read the story about the lost sheep, based on Luke 15:3-6,7.
Think about the following questions:
What did the story of the ‘lost sheep’ mean to you?
Did it surprise you that the shepherd would go to find the one lost sheep?
When are the times you might see yourself as the lost sheep?
What does this story tell you about God?
Why do you think God would go I search of those lost?
Design a ‘map’ for a Christian on the life’s journey who may be ‘lost’ and wants to be found – include on it ‘signposts’ of advice and ways to live their lives.
Once you have read the story think about the following questions:
What brought Charlotte and Poppy together as friends?
Why do you think the friendship faded?
What do you think about Poppy?
What do you think Charlotte might do?
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
How did you feel?
What did you do?
Think about a special friendship that you have. Build a bridge of words or pictures to show what makes your friendship strong.