Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Rite II:  Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution

Franciscan Celebration of the Sacrament

Saint John the Baptist Province
All Provincial Assembly
May 26, 2004

Introduction to this Celebration

Part 1:  Gathering Rites

Part 2:  Story Telling Rites

Part 3:  Reconciling Rites

Part 4:  Commissioning Rites

Performance Notes

Introduction to this Celebration

General Introduction  For an explanation of the general shape of this celebration and the rational behind its design, please see Chapter r70 Overview

Introduction to this Celebration  This celebration, designed for the Wednesday evening of the 2004 All Provincial Assembly is intended to praise the All-Merciful God for forgiving even our un-intended and un-known sins.   We praise God for God's mercy and patience with us and ask for insight to know the will of God and to know ourselves even as God knows us.  All scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, NRSV.

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Part 1: Gathering Rites

Gathering Song   I Heard the Voice of Jesus (BB501)

Call to Worship  The presider gathers the friars into one body by proclaiming the theme and direction of the rite.


Breathing in and breathing out

Take a deep breath.  Slowly let it out...

Father Donald Senior, CP (President of CTU) in an address to the North American Institute for Catholic Evangelization (July 2003, "The Gospel and the Call to Mission" reprinted in Ministry through the Lens of Evangelization, USCCB Publication 5-609, pp 137-153) uses this image of breathing in and breathing out as a metaphor which expresses what we do here this evening.  Fr. Senior said: 

"... breathing in and breathing out"  That primal human function is also a metaphor that I think describes the fundamental character of Jesus' own mission as portrayed in the Gospels.  I have come to think of his ministry like the work of breathing  -- a drawing in of life to a vital center, the extending of life to the farthest boundaries of reality, a gesture similar to an embrace, a reaching out and drawing in.  The more I conceive of Jesus' mission in terms of these two related movements, the more they become one fluid action and characterize the fundamental elements of Jesus' ministry:  reaching out and drawing in.  Both gestures were compelled by the deepest convictions and religious instincts of his life and his vocation:  reaching out in a wide embrace of the whole expanse of Israel, including those on the margins; drawing in the entire community -- washed and unwashed -- into a communion of life that gives glory to God." (142-143)

Opening Prayer  (Opening Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C, ICEL, Collects in Contemporary Language, Canterbury Press 2001, p 27)

God of compassion,
you await the sinner's return
and spread a feast to welcome home the lost.

Save us from the temptations
that lead away from you,
and draw us back by the constancy of your love,
that we may take our place in your household
and gladly share our inheritance with others.

Grant this through Christ, our liberator from sin,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and might God for ever and ever.
    All:  Amen

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Part 2: Story Telling Rites

First Reading  1 Kings 19:9 - 13

A reading from the First Book of Kings

Elijah came to a cave on Horeb, the mount of God,
    and spent the night there.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
"What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Elijah answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts;
    for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant,
    thrown down your altars,
    and killed your prophets with the sword.
I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."

The Voice said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord,
    for the Lord is about to pass by."
Now there was a great wind,
    so strong that it was splitting mountains
    and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord,
    but the Lord was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake,
    but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire,
    but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

When Elijah heard it,
    he wrapped his face in his mantle
    and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 

The word of the Lord. 
 All:  Thanks be to God

Meditation (in silence)   "... breathing in and breathing out."    This evening, during this liturgy, listen for the Voice of the Lord, in the prayers and gestures of the rite, in the readings and hymns, but especially in the "sound of sheer silence."   "... breathing in and breathing out."   As a mother cradles her infant in her arms and hushes it to sleep,  God embraces us in quiet, in parental strength, in peace.  Place yourself in God's embrace.  "... breathing in and breathing out."   

Responsorial Psalm   Happy Are They by Thomas Porter  (GC77)

Second Reading  A reading from The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano, Book 1, Chapter 25
(Francis of Assisi:  Early Documents, Volume 1, New City Press, 1999, pp 242-243)

At Citta di Castello there was a woman who was processed by a demon.
When the most the blessed father Francis was in that city,
    the woman was led to the house where he was staying.
But the woman stood outside
    and begin to gnash her teeth and howl in a horrible voice with a twisted face,
    as is usual with unclean spirits.
 Many people from the city, both women and men,
    came to plead with Saint Francis on the women's behalf.
 That evil spirit had troubled her for a long time by twisting her body
    and disturbed the people themselves with its howling.
The holy father sent out to her the brother who was with him,
    since he wished to check whether it was a demon or the women's deception.
When the woman saw the brother, she began to mock him,
    since she knew that he was hardly the holy man, Francis.
Meanwhile, Francis had been praying
    and once his prayer was finished he came outside.
The woman started to shake and roll on the ground,
    since she could not bear his power.
Saint Francis called her to himself, saying,
    "In virtue of obedience,
    I command you, evil spirit:  come out of her."
The evil spirit released her immediately without harm,
    and departed, furious.
Meditation (in silence)  

"... breathing in and breathing out."    Each friar, in his own way, continues the healing ministry of Francis -- whose life consisted in following the healing Jesus.    Our lives are spent reaching out and drawing in, releasing from sin and integrating into community, being forgiven and embracing our reconciliation, breathing in and breathing out.

Gospel Acclamation  Alleluia  (Stand)

Gospel  Lk 13:10-17 NRSV

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint Luke 

Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
And just then there appeared a woman
    with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.
She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.
When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said,
    "Woman, you are set free from your ailment."
When he laid his hands on her,
    immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue,
    indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
    kept saying to the crowd,
"There are six days on which work ought to be done;
    come on those days and be cured,
    and not on the sabbath day."

But the Lord answered him and said,
"You hypocrites!
    Does not each of you on the sabbath
        untie his ox or his donkey from the manger,
        and lead it away to give it water?
And ought not this woman,
    a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years,
    be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?"

When he said this,
    all his opponents were put to shame;
    and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

The Gospel of the Lord
    All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. 

Meditation (in silence)   "... breathing in and breathing out."    There is always a healthy, creative tension between group identity and outreach; between rules and compassion; between boundaries and liberation; between retribution and forgiveness.  "Jesus has extraordinary outreach beyond the accepted boundaries of his day.  Jesus was committed to restoring Israel to God." (Senior p 143)   Because she is a daughter of Abraham she should be set free, even on the sabbath. (See Luke 13:10-17).   How do our lives preserve and balance that tension?  With regard to our fraternity?  With regard to ourselves?

Fourth Reading  A reading from The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano, Book 1, Chapter 28
(Francis of Assisi:  Early Documents, Volume 1, New City Press, 1999, pp 248-249)

One day the holy man Francis was making a journey through the Marches of Ancona
    and preached the word of the Lord in the city. 
Then he took the road toward Osimo, with Lord Paul,
    the one whom he had appointed minister of all the brethren in that province.
He came upon a shepherd in the fields pasturing a flock of goats. 
There was one little sheep walking humbly
    and grazing calmly among these many goats. 
When blessed Francis saw it, he stopped in his tracks,
    and touched with sorrow in his heart, he groaned loudly,
    and said to the bother accompanying him: 
"Do you see that sheep walking so meekly among those goats? 
    I tell you, in the same way our Lord Jesus Christ, meek and humble,
    walked among the Pharisees and chief priests. 
So I ask you, my son,
    in your love for Him to share my compassion for this little sheep. 
After we have paid for it,
    let us lead this little one from the midst of these goats."

Brother Paul was struck by his sorrow
    and also began to feel that sorrow himself. 
They had nothing except the cheap tunics they wore
    and they were concerned about how to pay for the sheep,
when suddenly a traveling merchant arrived
    and offered to pay for what they wanted. 

Taking up the sheep, they gave thanks to God
    and after reaching Osimo made their way to the bishop of the city,
    who received them with great reverence. 
Now the lord bishop was surprised
    both at the sheep the man of God was leading
    and at the affection for it that was leading him to do this. 
But when the servant of Christ recounted the long parable of the sheep
    the bishop was touched in his heart by the purity of the man of God,
    and gave thanks to God.
The next day, on leaving the city,
    the man of God began to wonder what to do with the sheep. 
On the advice of his companion and brother,
    he entrusted it to the care of the maidservants of Christ
    in the cloister of San Severino. 
The venerable servants of Christ gladly received the little sheep
    as a great gift from God. 
They devotedly cared for the sheep for a long time
    and made a tunic from its wool,
    a tunic they sent to the blessed father Francis
    at the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula at the time of a chapter meeting. 
The holy man of God received the tunic with great reverence and high spirits,
    hugging and kissing it,
    and invited all those around him to share in this great joy.

Meditation (in silence)  In the Gospels, the outcaste and the sinner are invited into the community, and they enrich and strengthen it, e.g. Paul of Tarsus, the Samaritan Woman, the Gerasenes demoniac.   Even a lost lamb provides a tunic for father Francis.  Do we welcome sinners grudgingly or with a vision of the promise of their potential?  "Jesus had great faith in the capacity of the human person for holiness and greatness." (Senior p 145)



General Intercessions 

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Part 3: Reconciling Rites

Personal Confession / Proclamation of Absolution  The friars who wish can proceed to the presiding minister or one of the assisting priests to  confess their sins.  (You may, of course approach any friar priest present.  You may ask him to come to the front of the room, or to move, if necessary, to a place where your sins are not overheard by others.)  Say what you wish.  Canon 960 requires that grievous sins be confessed number and kind unless this is physically or morally impossible.  In all other cases you can say whatever you wish, for example, "I am sorry for all my sins."  (As Eucharist is the model shape for all the sacraments, this procession is similar in form and function to that of the procession for Holy Communion at Mass.)  The priest will impose hands, and pray the sacramental prayer of absolution.  Then return to your place.   I suggest that during this time you sit and pray for the individual friars who are at that moment confessing their sinfulness.  Entrust each one specifically to the mercy of God and pray that they be filled with God's peace.  And know that, as you confess your sinfulness, the Province is praying for you.

Communal Celebration of God's Mercy  Following the procession for individual confession and absolution, when the friars have returned to their places all stand and the presider continues: 

The Lord be with you.
    All: And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
    All: We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
    All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,                                  
all praise, glory, honor and blessing are yours.
We thank you with all your creatures,
Brother Sun through whom you give us light,
With Sister Moon and the stars,
Brother Wind, and Sister Water.
We thank you for your manifestation in the crown of all creation,
Jesus, your Son.
He invites us to take his yoke upon us and to learn from him
for he is gentle and humble of heart.
We thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent
and have revealed them to infants.
Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
In praise of your great mercy and all embracing love
we join our voices with all the angels and saints
in their song of joy: 

Hymn  Holy, Holy, Holy...

O, Most High, you are holy indeed,
You reveal your holiness in Jesus your Son
who came among us to announce good news to the poor.
All-powerful, most holy, most high God
we remember the passion and death of your Son;
we remember his resurrection and ascension to your right hand;
we thank you for the gift of salvation and the gift of your Son.
From his wounded side on the cross
he sent the Holy Spirit into the Church.
We pray that you would send your Holy Spirit upon us
so that, cleansed from all sin,
we might give your perfect praise.

Our Father...

Ritual Action   (Presider)  May we never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Let us exchange a sign of peace.   (Friars give one another an embrace of peace.)

Part 4: Commissioning Rites

Announcements  (Presider turns our attention to what happens after the close of this rite)

Prayer after Reconciliation  (Opening Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year C, ICEL, Collects in Contemporary Language, Canterbury Press 2001, p 23)

O God of the covenant,
your presence fills us with awe,
your word gives us unshakable hope.

Fix in our hearts
the image of your Son in glory,
that, sustained on the path of discipleship,
we may pass over with him to newness of life.

Grant this through Christ, our deliverance and hope,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever.
    All:  Amen.

Blessing and Dismissal (Rite of Penance 62)

Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing:

God the Father does not wish the sinner to die
but to turn back to him and live.
He loved us first and sent his Son into the world to be its Savior.
May he show you his merciful love and give you peace.
 All:  Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was given up to death for our sins,
and rose again for our justification.
He sent the Holy Spirit on his apostles
and gave them power to forgive sins.
Through the ministry entrusted to me
may he deliver you from evil
and fill you with his Holy Spirit.
 All:  Amen.

The Spirit, the Comforter, was given to us for the forgiveness of sins.
In him we approach the Father.
May he cleanse your hearts and clothe you in his glory,
so that you may proclaim the mighty acts of God
who has called you out of darkness into the splendor of his light.
 All:  Amen.

May Almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.
 All:  Amen.

Hymn of Mission  Lift Up your Hearts  by O'Conner (BB 570)

Performance Notes

Copyright Acknowledgements  As this is a draft and I do not have specific instructions as to what the planning committee has in mind for this service, I have not finalized any prayers or requested any copyright permissions. 

Notes on Ritual Performance  This service will take about 90 minutes. 

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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 03/03/14.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org