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. Sometimes “it is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion” (1423). But it is also better known as “the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction” (1423).
For many of us it still continues to be known as “the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament” (1424). At the same time, the Catechism reminds us that “it is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent ‘pardon and peace'” (1424). Finally, it is also called the sacrament of Reconciliation because it reconciles sinners to God and then to each other (1424).
Through this sacrament, we meet Christ in his Church ready and eager to absolve and restore us to new life. The graces of Christ are conferred in the sacraments by means of visible signs – signs that are acts of worship, symbols of the grace given and recognizable gestures through which the Lord bestows his gifts. In the sacrament of Penance, the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of grace are the gifts received through the outward sign, i.e., the extension of hands and words of absolution pronounced by the priest.
How do I go to Confession?
The following may be helpful in preparing for confession. Above all, do not be afraid. If you are hesitant about what to do, ask the priest for help:
The priest welcomes the penitent warmly and greets him or her with kindness.
- Sign of the Cross:
Then the penitent makes the Sign of the Cross, which the priest may also make.
- Invitation to Trust in God:
The priest invites the penitent to have trust in God using one of the formulas in the ritual or similar words. If the penitent is unknown to the priest, it is proper for the penitent to indicate his or her state in life (married, single, or clergy), the time of his or her last confession and anything else that may help the confessor in exercising his ministry.
- Reading of the Word of God:
- Confession of Sins and Acceptance of Satisfaction:
The penitent confesses his or her sins and accepts the prayers or deeds that the priest proposes as a penance.
- Prayer of the Penitent and Absolution:
The priest asks the penitent to express sorrow by praying one of the prayers found in the ritual or in his or her own words. The priest then prays the Prayer of Absolution, to which the penitent responds: “Amen.”
Proclamation of Praise and Dismissal:
The priest continues: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.” The penitent responds: “His mercy endures forever.” The priest then dismisses the penitent, using one of the formulas found in the ritual.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe every evening beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Sacrament is also available on Sunday between masses. Lastly, you may also set up an appointment with one of our priests by calling the Shrine office at 847-294-1806.