The Sacrament of Reconciliation

While Jesus was teaching at home, four men tried to bring in a paralyzed man on a stretcher, but could not reach Jesus because of the crowd. So, they removed the roof above Jesus, dug through the ceiling, and lowered the man. When Jesus saw the strength of their trust in him, he said to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Some of the experts in the Law of Moses sat in the crowd and felt shock. “Why does he say these things? He insults God!” the experts thought. “Who else has the power to forgive sin but God?”

Immediately, Jesus sensed what they were thinking. “Why do you wonder about what I said?” Jesus asked. “What’s easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk.’ So you’ll know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins here and now,” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and told him, “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He got up, picked up his stretcher, and walked out in front of everyone. “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” everyone exclaimed.

Based on Mark 2:3-12

Just as Jesus forgave the sins of the paralyzed man, he forgives our sins, even the ones we commit after our Baptism. We celebrate the forgiveness Jesus offers us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The sacrament marks our return to God and our renewal of peace with others in the Church.

The sacrament has three steps: contrition, confession and satisfaction. Let’s look at each step in detail.

Imagine you hurt the feelings of a friend. How would you become friends again with that person? First, you would change your mind and heart. You would realize that you hurt your friend. And, you would feel sorry for your actions. Reflection and sorrow. These two actions define contrition.

Next, you would approach your friend and tell them, “I’m sorry.” This simple, but important step is called confession.

Finally, you would try to repair the friendship. If the hurt feelings were caused by a game you broke, for example, you might buy another game. Doing something to restore the friendship is called satisfaction.

Applying these steps to one friend is easy. But how do you say you’re sorry to God and others in general? After all, sin is like a disease that spreads. If you hurt one friend, the damage from that lost friendship might hurt others in ways you cannot imagine! The Sacrament of Reconciliation answers this problem. Let’s apply the contrition, confession and satisfaction to the sacrament.

Contrition: First, prepare for the sacrament in your mind and heart. Ask yourself, “How have I sinned? How have I turned away from God? How have I hurt others and myself?” When you ask questions like these, you make an examination of conscience.

Confession: Next, confess your sins to a priest in private. The priest represents God and all the people you may have hurt. The priest may talk with you so you can do better in the future. He will ask you to tell God you are sorry. This prayer of sorrow is called an Act of Contrition. Finally, he will say a prayer of absolution over you. This prayer declares your sins forgiven.

Satisfaction: When you confess your sins to a priest, he will give you a penance. This is an action that will help you to repair the damage your sin made (replacing a toy you broke, for example). Many times, your heart gets hardened by your sin. To help heal your heart, the priest will give you a prayer like the Our Father, Hail Mary, or Glory Be. When you mean the words you pray, these prayers can help you love God and others more.