Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History

Chapter i20 Summary History of  Christian Initiation


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r4101 Song
r4102 Greeting
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Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History

Chapter i20 Summary History of  Christian Initiation


Home ] Up ] r11 Forgivenenss ] r11 SICS ] r81 Interpersonal Forgiveness ] r12 Introduction ] r17 Bibliography ] r26 The Reformation ] r31 R Introduction ] r32 R Cp II ] r33 R Cp III ] r35 R Cp V ] r40 Outline ] r40 Contents ] [ r41 Gathering ] r4400 Commissioning ] r51 The Rite:  Chapter One ] r55 The Presider ] r57 Spiritual Direction ] r64 Indulgences ] r66 Reconciliation and Initiation ] r71 Lent (Example A) ] r72 Lent ] r73 Advent A ] r74 Advent ] r75 During a Parish Mission ] r76 With Children ] r63 Canon Law and Reconciliation ] r18 Glossary ]

 

r4101 Song
r4102 Greeting
r4103 Opening Prayer

Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History

Chapter i20 Summary History of  Christian Initiation


Home ] Up ] r11 Forgivenenss ] r11 SICS ] r11 Syllabus ] r81 Interpersonal Forgiveness ] r12 Introduction ] r17 Bibliography ] r26 The Reformation ] r31 R Introduction ] r32 R Cp II ] r33 R Cp III ] r35 R Cp V ] r40 Outline ] r40 Contents ] [ r41 Gathering ] r4400 Commissioning ] r51 The Rite:  Chapter One ] r55 The Presider ] r57 Spiritual Direction ] r64 Indulgences ] r66 Reconciliation and Initiation ] r71 Lent (Example A) ] r72 Lent ] r73 Advent A ] r74 Advent ] r75 During a Parish Mission ] r76 With Children ] r63 Canon Law and Reconciliation ] r18 Glossary ]

 

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r41 Gathering
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r4101 Song
r4102 Greeting
r4103 Opening Prayer

r41 Gathering
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r4101 Song
r4102 Greeting
r4103 Opening Prayer


 


 

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r4102 Greeting
r4103 Opening Prayer

r41 Gathering
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r4102 Greeting
r4103 Opening Prayer

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The Reconciliation of Penitents
Part One:  Gathering

Overview of the Gathering Rites

Historical Survey

Documentation

Pastoral Reflection

Suggested Questions for Discussion

Historical Survey

The gathering of the community was an important part of the sacrament during the period of canonical penance. It was in the presence of the community that the sinner entered the order of penitents. At each gathering of the assembly the penitent asked for and received the prayers of the community. It was in the assembly that the penitent heard the word of God and the instruction of the elders of the community. And finally it was in the midst of the gathered assembly that penitent was reconciled and embraced back into the community eucharist.

During the seventh to the ninth centuries, the period of tariff penance, the sacrament lost much of this ecclesial, community dimension. The penitent approached the holy person privately; the penance listed in the penitential (the book of penances) was not assigned in the presence of the community but privately. There were no "gathering rites" as in the canonical period.

As tariff penance evolved into the modern system during the twelfth century, the gathering rites were lost. In the years preceding the Second Vatican Council many Catholics considered confession to be a private act.

The new Rite of Penance places the theology of the sacrament, the way we understand the sacrament, in the context of the Church: reconciliation is a community action. And the new rite places the ritual of the sacrament, the way we do the sacrament, in the context of the liturgy. Consequently, the rites of gathering have not only a practical purpose (coming together to begin the rite) but a very important symbolic function: the gathered community is the sign and symbol of reconciliation.

When the we gather for any liturgical celebration, we express in our lives and manifest to others the nature of the true Church. Christian life is a paradox: we are both the redeemed, holy and spotless bride of Christ, and at the same time, we are ever in need of redemption. We have been reborn in the waters of baptism and yet we stand ever in need to be born again and again and again. As the Second Vatican Council taught in the Constitution on the Church (article 8) the Church is "at once holy and always in need of purification." It is this holy yet sinful Church which is made visible in the assembling community. "The Church, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."

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Documentation

Rite of Penance

3. Christ "loved the Church and gave himself up for it to make it holy" (Eph 5:25-26), and he united the Church to himself as a bride. He filled it with his divine gifts, because it is his body and fullness; through the Church he spreads truth and grace upon all.

7 cont. The celebration of this sacrament is thus always an act in which the Church proclaims its faith, gives thanks to God for the freedom with which Christ has made us free, and offers its life as a spiritual sacrifice in praise of God's glory, as it hastens to meet the Lord Jesus.

8. The whole Church, as a priestly people, acts in different ways in the work of reconciliation that has been entrusted to it by the Lord. Not only does the Church call sinners to repentance by preaching the word of God, but it also intercedes for them and helps penitents with maternal care and solicitude to acknowledge and admit their sins and so obtain the mercy of God, who alone can forgive sins. Further, the Church becomes itself the instrument of the conversion and absolution of the penitent through the ministry entrusted by Christ to the apostles and their successors.

23. When the faithful have gathered, a suitable hymn may be sung. Then the priest greets them and, if necessary, he or another minister gives a brief introduction to the celebration and explains the order of service. Next he invites all to pray and after a period of silence completes the opening prayer.

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Pastoral Reflection

The celebration of any rite must have some way to begin, to start. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (article 24) tells us the purpose of the introductory rites at when the community gathers for eucharist: "The purpose of these rites is that the faithful coming together take on the form of a community and prepare themselves to listen to God's word and celebrate the eucharist properly." The gathering rites of the sacrament of reconciliation have a similar function; they enable the faithful coming together for the celebration to take on the form of a community and to prepare themselves to listen to God's word and celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

The elements of the gathering rite are: song, greeting, and the opening prayer.

The introductory rites serve not only the practical function of beginning the rite, but also serve the very important theological function of manifesting our belief that we are ever in need of redemption. We are paradoxically a holy Church and a sinful Church.

Sin is never a private affair. Whenever a member of the Body of Christ sins, the act has bearing on the entire body. As it is the body that is harmed by our sins, so we come together as a body to manifest our repentance and to celebrate our reconciliation with God through the community.

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Suggested Questions for Discussion

"Paradoxically, the reason why the practice of sacramental penance is in decline may well be in part that preachers and teachers have put such emphasis on interiority and so little emphasis on ecclesial identity and vocation. By playing down the role of penance as reconciliation with the Church, we may in fact be collaborating with the individualism of our culture to undermine the public, social, and sacramental character of the Catholic tradition" (USCCB The Parish in Transition, p. 54). Do you agree with this statement? Do you think that the homilies you hear in your parish church stress sufficiently the communal nature of sin and forgiveness?

Do you think that most Catholics believe that forgiveness of sins takes place through the community, or do you think that most Catholics consider forgiveness a private affair between themselves and God?

How are the members of your parish greeted and welcomed when they gather for Sunday Mass? How are they greeted when they come for the sacrament of reconciliation?

Which term do you like best: "Entrance Rites", "Introductory Rites", or "Gathering Rites"? Why?

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/20/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.