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The Sacrament Of Penance And Reconciliation


Welcome Home to Healing: The Sacrament of Reconciliation


In the Christian Profession of Faith, we proclaim: « I believe in only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. »  In fact, baptism frees us from the evil that we may have done, the evil that is in us, by plunging us into the love of God that was manifested to us through Jesus-Christ.

But, even after baptism, we may experience weakness as well as attraction towards things that we know are not good.  When this attraction dominates us, and we are not able to resist it, we develop attitudes and do things that we know contradicts our baptism.  What do we do then?

In his great mercy, Christ has provided a ministry of healing for his Church.  According to the Gospel of John, the morning of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Apostles.  « He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” »

The sacrament of reconciliation and penitence, commonly called confession, allows us to renew the grace of our baptism.  Indeed, during the baptism, I rejected evil, (or someone did it in my name), before being baptized « in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ».  In confession, I reject the evil that I admit having done – sin – and I am pardoned « in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ».

"The sacrament of reconciliation is a sacrament of healing.  When I go to confess myself, it’s to be healed, To heal my soul, heal my heart And what I have done and what is going wrong in my life." 
(Pope Francis)

In the Archdiocese of Gatineau, we can celebrate this sacrament under two formats.

The individual format consists of a personal meeting with a priest.  The priests often make themselves available for these meetings before Masses during the week, and sometimes on Sundays.  Or they plan regular hours for this sacrament, and they announce them in the parish bulletin.  Or even, they make themselves available on demand.  Consult your parish for more information on this subject.

The community format consists of a Liturgy of the Word celebrated as a group, followed by a period of reflection and communal prayer.  A brief meeting with a priest allows us to name the sins that we admit having committed, and then receive absolution.  We then take the time to praise the Lord for his mercy.  These community celebrations are often organized for regions during Advent or Lent, or during parish retreats.  Again, you can consult your parish for more information.

Here is a series of questions and answers

What are other names for the sacrament of reconciliation and penitence?

It is known by many other names, such as the sacrament of conversion, the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness; and for the young people who are following a training course on the Christian life before celebrating their 1st Communion, it is often called the 1st Pardon.

At what age do we generally invite a young Catholic to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time?

Theoretically, starting at around age 8; however, it is possible to do it at any age, following an adequate preparation.

Are there specific reasons why this sacrament is proposed to children starting at age 8?

Yes, since it’s generally at around that age that the child starts to have the capacity to understand that bad things create blockages and paralyses that can only be undone by going through a process of forgiveness.  The preparation received under the responsibility of a catechist will gradually bring the child to understand what the celebration is all about: an opportunity to receive pardon for our sins from a God who loves us.  The meeting with God in this sacrament creates a new relationship between God and the person who receives the sacrament with faith.

Must we have been baptized before we can present ourselves for the sacrament of reconciliation?

Yes, because it’s baptism that instills in the faithful a vocation to live a relationship with God, and reconciliation upgrades our love relationship with God.

Is it true that the celebration of this sacrament for the first time precedes that of the 1st Communion?

Yes, and it is preferable that the preparation and the celebration of these two sacraments, 1st Pardon and 1st Communion, not be done simultaneously.

What does the child go through while preparing himself for the celebration of reconciliation?

He goes through a catechetical journey that will allow him to be more familiar with Jesus; he comes into contact with one or another of the Gospels; that will give him the opportunity to refer to the model lifestyle of Jesus.  He lives something like a discovery of collective faith; he develops his confidence in God, and learns to fearlessly go forward.

By proposing to the young person a course to prepare him to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation, are we not bringing him to change his life?

Yes, because when you freely enter a catechetic course towards the sacrament of reconciliation, you enter a process that will always lead to change and renewal.

What are some concrete things that this sacrament entails?

1) A reading from the Word of God where we discover His merciful love for us, in spite of our iniquities;
2) an act of contrition (regret);
3) an admission to the priest, minister of reconciliation;
4) absolution from the priest;
5) an act of penitence;
6) the decision to change (convert) something in one’s life.

What justifies that people would want to go through the sacrament of reconciliation?

In our lives, we sometimes let things rise that can hinder our love of God and others; the sacrament of reconciliation helps us renew this love, and open up to it as much as possible.

Can this sacrament be celebrated many times in someone’s life?

Yes, its frequency is often linked with periods where people are going through hard times, and they feel the need to seek help.

Archidiocèse de Gatineau
180, boulevard du Mont-Bleu,
Gatineau (Québec) J8Z 3J5
Téléphone: 819 771-8391
Télécopieur: 819 778-8969

Contact the diocesan team

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