Reconciliation
Part 5  The Ritual:  Chapter One

Chapter 51 Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Variations of Rite One

Confessions during Mass

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

Sacraments:  Celebrations of Lived Experiences    Contemporary approaches to the sacraments tell us that sacraments "happen first to the whole community". (Gula p 75)   "In sacraments, we celebrate our experience already begun and, in this way, deepen that experience by bringing it to a new level of expression." [Gula p 44] Apply this statement to each of the seven sacraments. Does it apply equally well to the sacrament of reconciliation? "The practice of sacramental confession is a good example. Confession has been plagued throughout its history with a narrow legalism that turns the celebration of God's mercy into a kind of coldly clinical legal pardon for un-obeyed prescriptions. The decline of this sacrament — which few people associate with festivity! — owes much to our having recourse to it before some degree of reconciliation or healing has taken place, and before the mercy of God has been savored and experienced." The new Rite of Penance tries to put the sacramental moment back into its correct context: "Faithful Christians, as they experience and proclaim the mercy of God in their lives, celebrate with the priest the liturgy by which the church continually renews itself" (#11).

"Can Catholic people and their pastors reverse the trend of centuries, and come to see the Sacrament of Reconciliation in this marvelously festive way? I would urge that it cannot be done unless the people and their confessors are firmly in touch with their own experience and stories.  f I may paraphrase a saying of G. K. Chesterton, the Sacrament of Reconciliation hasn't failed; it mostly hasn't been tried.  If legalism is one fruit of a sacrament's becoming detached from its natural cycle, the magical attitude toward sacraments is another. (Tad Guzie.
The Book of Sacramental Basics, pp 19-20.)

How often do you use the Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents? Are your spiritual director and your confessor the same person? Why or why not? When you are seeing your spiritual director, do you also on that occasion go to confession? If were pastor of a parish, how many times during the course of a year do you think the active Catholics in your parish should celebrate the sacrament?

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Bibliography

Rite of Penance. Introduction, especially numbers 15-21; and Chapter I, numbers 41-47.

Stasiak, Kurt. A Confessor‘s Handbook. New York: Paulist Press. 1999. $11.95. ISBN 0-8091-3914-6

The bishops of Pennsylvania (February 2002) published "A Guide to the Sacrament of Penance" which is available at  http://www.pacatholic.org/bishops'%20statements/penance.htm

Gula, Richard M., S.S.  To Walk Together Again.

Kennedy, Robert J. "The Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents: Celebration of the Church" in Kennedy, pp 131-142.

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Variations of Rite One

When we first studied the Rite for Reconciliation we saw that there are many "variations" on the sacrament today.  Review:  Forms (16) of the Rite of Reconciliation in Current Use

Note: Forms A-E are not distinct forms but are a continuum; the confessor must be skilled in adjusting and modifying his pastoral response to fit the needs of the penitent. In this course we will practice Forms B, C, and D.  Form B is what you will, perhaps, most often experience in a parish on a typical Saturday afternoon.  In your practicum I will present form C. 

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Confessions during Mass

Shortly after the Council, we learned that the custom of hearing confessions during Sunday Mass should cease.  The origin of this probation is found in Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Eucharisticum Mysterium, May 25, 1967 AAS 59 (1967) 539-573.

SOME GENERAL NORMS ON STRUCTURING CELEBRATION OF THE MEMORIAL OF THE LORD IN THE COMMUNITY OF THE FAITHFUL.

17. In liturgical celebrations, any breakup or distraction of the community must be avoided. Care must be taken, accordingly, not to have two liturgical celebrations going on in the same church at the same time, since this would distract the attention of the people.

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To Think About

1. The current ritual presents three rites for the Sacrament of Penance. What values are emphasized and what values are neglected in each rite?

2. Every rite possesses structure and elements. Name the structure and elements of "rite one" of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

3. Would you allow a couple or a family to come to you to celebrate reconciliation together? [That is, would you allow more than one person to celebrate Rite One and one time?] Why or why not?

4.  What proportion of a priest's time should be devoted to celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

In 2012  there are 39,718 priests in the USA and 68,200,000 Catholics or one priest for each 1,717 Catholics.
If a priest hears the confession of each of "his share" of the 1,717 an average of 15 min each, each month, he would be 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day all year in the confessional.    If a priest hears the confession of each for 10 min a month, he would be in the confessional 9.5 hours each day of the month.

There are 3,776 parishes in the USA (2012).  If the pastor hears the confession of each parishioner monthly and gives them only 10 min each (includes coming in and going out etc) he would spend 629 hours in the confessional or 25.17 hours each day, every day of the year!  And that presumes that he has the care of only one parish. 

When priests from the pulpit encourage everyone to "go to confession" do they really mean it?  Or do they hope that everyone doesn't actually do what they are suggesting?

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  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 trichstatter@franciscan.org