Sacraments of Initiation and Children


What's in a name?

This sacrament has been referred to as Penance, Confession and Reconciliation.

With the revision of the celebration (liturgy) of the Sacraments after the Second Vatican Council, in reviewing this sacrament the Church issued the
Rites of Reconciliation (2 December 1973).


In this review they took as the model of reconciliation the parable of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15:11-33), more often referred to as the Prodigal Son. It is the father's actions that Jesus is highlighting.

The father who sees his son from a long way off and runs out to greet him. The father who welcomed his son home - not back, for he was always his son. The father who forgives and showers him with gifts, even though we may not think he deserved them.

Being a parable, Jesus is speaking of
his Father and our Father.

Your Father who sees you from a long way off
and runs out to greet

Your Father who welcomes you home -
not back, for
you are always his child.

Your Father who forgives and showers you with gifts,
even though you may not think you
deserve them.

As their relationship with God grew through the person of Jesus Christ, they responded to his invitation to be reconciled. They came to understand that their words and actions towards others did not reflect their relationship with Jesus. As a parent you experience the hurt of your child by another person, including their brothers and sisters. "Why can't they just get along with each other!" So too, God as Father, and as brother in Jesus experience this hurt.

Outline of the Rite of Reconciliation

  • Sign of the Cross.

  • Invitation to trust in God (in these or similar words)
    May God who has enlightened every heart,
    help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy.

  • Reading of the Word of God

  • Confession of Sins

  • Penance
    The priest proposes an act of penance with which the penitent accepts to make satisfaction for sin and change their way of behaving.

  • Prayer of the Penitent
    e.g. Father, I have sinned against you,
    and am not worthy to be called your son.
    Be merciful to me a sinner.

  • Prayer of Absolution

  • Proclamation of Praise of God and Dismissal
    Priest: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
    Penitent: His mercy endure forever.
    Priest: The Lord has freed you from your sins.
    Go in peace.