Reconciliation is officially called the Sacrament of Penance. In the past, it was also called Confession. These titles are all aspects of the meaning of the Sacrament.
During this sacrment, a Catholic confesses his or her sins to a priest in the spirit of true repentance and receives forgiveness. The priest acts as a visible representative of Christ, who forgives sins through Him, when he says the words of absolution: "I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
There are three forms of the celebration of penance.
Reconciliation for Individual Penitents (Rite I): This form is celebrated by an individual person in the presence of the priest. The place where this happens is usually a Reconciliation Room what or "Confessional". A bible, a crucifix and candle are placed on a table in the centre of the space. The penitent may choose to sit facing the priest or to sit behind a screen and remain anonymous. The Rite begins with a greeting, followed by words of encouragement from the priest. After a short reading from scripture, the penitent reflects on his/her circumstances and confesses his/her sins and seeks reconciliation. The priest offers advice and gives a penance that is meant to help in starting a new life and to remedy any weakness. The priest pronounces absolution and the rite concludes with a short thanksgiving.
Reconciliation for Several Penitents with individual confession and absolution (Rite II): This form of the Rite begins with a celebration of the Word such as readings from scripture, hymns, prayers, a homily and an examination of conscience, followed by a call to repentance. Private confession and reconciliation follow. The Rite concludes with a short thanksgiving, and a blessing and dismissal of the gathered assembly.
Reconciliation for Several Penitents with general confession and absolution (Rite III): This form of the Rite follows the same pattern as Rite II, but does not include individual confession and reconciliation. It includes a communal prayer of confession and general absolution. The use of this form is restricted to emergencies and other special circumstances.
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