Two Rites or ways that we celebrate the Sacrament of Penance
I. Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents
You meet individually with a priest in a reconciliation room or other place. You may be seated and speak face-to-face with the priest, or you may kneel behind a divider or screen.
Welcoming the Penitent
The priest greets you. You make the sign of the cross. The priest invites you to have trust in God.
Reading the Word of God
The priest may read a short passage from the Bible.
Confession of Sins and the Acceptance of Penance
You confess your sins to the priest. He may offer counsel. Then he gives you a penance – something to do or pray as a response to God's mercy and to help amend your life.
The Prayer of the Penitent and the Absolution
You pray an Act of Contrition – from memory, by reading, or in your own words. The priest then extends his hand over your head and says the words of absolution which announce God's forgiveness.
Proclamation of Praise and Dismissal
The priest says something like 'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,' and dismisses you.
II. Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents
with Individual Confession and Absolution
In this rite, a group of people assembles in the church to celebrate the sacrament at the same time, with communal prayer, reading, and song.
You join the community in song. The priest greets the assembly and offers an opening prayer.
Celebration of the Word of God
One or more Scripture passages are read and the priest preaches a homily. A period of time may be given to make your own examination of conscience. A priest or reader may make brief statements that help you recall and reflect on your sins.
Rite of Reconciliation
Everyone bows or kneels and says a form of general confession, 'I confess to Almighty God…' This is followed by a litany and the Lord's Prayer.
Then you have an opportunity to go by yourself to one of the priests to confess your sins confidentially. The priest gives you a penance – something to do or pray as a response to God's mercy and to help amend your life. Then he extends his hand over your head and says the words of absolution which announce God's forgiveness.
You return to your place in the assembly. When everyone is finished, the congregation may sing a psalm or song of praise. The priest says a prayer of thanksgiving.
Dismissal of the People
The priest blesses and dismisses the people.