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You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Rite of Penance, Introduction  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsII. Reconciliation of Penitents in the Church's LifeEndnotes

I. Mystery of Reconciliation in the History of the Church

1. The Father has shown forth his mercy by reconciling the world to himself in Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of Christ on the cross. [1] The Son of God made man lived among us in order to free us from the slavery of sin [2] and to call us out of darkness into his wonderful light. [3] He therefore began his work on earth by preaching repentance and saying: "Repent and believe the Gospel" (Mk 1:15).

This invitation to repentance, which had often been sounded by the prophets, prepared people's hearts for the coming of the kingdom of God through the voice of John the Baptist, who came "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk 1:4).

Jesus, however, not only exhorted people to repentance so that they would abandon their sins and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord, [4] but welcoming sinners, he actually reconciled them with the Father. [5] Moreover, he healed the sick in order to offer a sign of his power to forgive sin. [6] Finally, he himself died for our sins and rose again for our justification. [7] Therefore, on the night he was betrayed and began his saving passion, [8] he instituted the sacrifice of the New Covenant in his blood for the forgiveness of sins. [9] After his resurrection he sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, empowering them to forgive or retain sins [10] and sending them forth to all peoples to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in his name. [11]

The Lord said to Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed also in heaven" (Mt 16:19). In obedience to this command, on the day of Pentecost Peter preached the forgiveness of sins by baptism: "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). [12] Since then the Church has never failed to call people from sin to conversion and through the celebration of penance to show the victory of Christ over sin.

2. This victory is first brought to light in baptism where our fallen nature is crucified with Christ so that the body of sin may be destroyed and we may no longer be slaves to sin, but rise with Christ and live for God. [13] For this reason the Church proclaims its faith in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins."

In the sacrifice of the Mass the passion of Christ is again made present; his body given for us and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins are offered to God again by the Church for the salvation of the world. For in the eucharist Christ is present and is offered as "the sacrifice which has made our peace" [14] with God and in order that "we may be brought together in unity" [15] by his Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, our Savior Jesus Christ, when he gave to his apostles and their successors power to forgive sins, instituted in his Church the sacrament of penance, Its purpose is that the faithful who fall into sin after baptism may be reconciled with God through the restoration of grace. [16] The Church "possesses both water and tears: the water of baptism, the tears of penance." [17]

Table of ContentsII. Reconciliation of Penitents in the Church's LifeEndnotes

You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Rite of Penance, Introduction  Back one page.

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You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Rite of Penance, Introduction  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links


All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com