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What is the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation?

The Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation is a rich source of grace.  Also known as confession, it was instituted by Jesus Christ to offer us forgiveness for offenses committed against God. Every time we sin, we hurt ourselves, other people and God. In the sacrament of reconciliation, we acknowledge our sins before God and his church. We express our sorrow in a meaningful way, receive the forgiveness of Christ and his church, make reparation for what we have done and resolve to do better in the future. The sacrament involves five elements:

 ❶  Contrition:

We are sincerely sorry for offending God and have a firm resolve not to repeat our sins.

 ❷  Confession:

We speak about our sins aloud to a priest.

 ❸  Penance:

The priest prescribes an act of penance as a part of our healing.

 ❹  Act of contrition:

We offer a prayer in which we express to God our sorrow for sin (see example inside).

 ❺  Absolution:

The priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of mercies” reconciles a sinner to himself through the merits of the cross.


This is the Sacrament in which sins committed after Baptism are forgiven. It results in reconciliation with God and the Church. (US Catholic Catechism for Adults, Glossary)



Guide to Confession

What is the Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation

Preparing for the Sacrament

Examination of Conscience

The Rite of Penance & Reconciliation

An Act of Contrition