The Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation)

Most of us would know this Sacrament as Confession, it also goes by other names: reconciliation, Sacrament of Forgiveness or Conversion. This sacrament is a sign and experience of God’s unconditional forgiveness.

After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retrain, they are retained.”
John 20:22

We are called to be one people united with Christ and one another. Sadly, in our weakness this unity is often ruptured through failures to love (i.e. we sin). Yet God’s love for us does not cease when we fail. In this Sacrament, through the Ministry of the Priest, God forgives the sins of those who confess them and reconciles them to Himself and the whole Christian Community. By expressing our sorrow for our sin in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, we experience forgiveness and healing. Our relationship with God and our unity as Church is made whole again.

Reconciliation is a sacrament which can be celebrated repeatedly throughout one’s life, and indeed Catholics are encouraged to receive this sacrament frequently. At a minimum, Catholics must make a confession of sins when they are conscious of mortal sin before the reception of Holy Communion. The precept of the Church says that Catholics ought to confess their sins in the sacrament of Confession at least once a year during the Easter Season.