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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 ContentsIV. Celebration of the Sacrament of PenanceVI. Adaptations of the Rite to Various Regions and CircumstancesEndnotes

V. Penance Services

NATURE AND STRUCTURE

36. Penitential services are gatherings of the people of God to hear God's word as an invitation to conversion and renewal of life and as the message of our liberation from sin through Christ's death and resurrection. The structure of these services is the same as that usually followed in celebrations of the word of God [50] and given in the Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents.

It is appropriate, therefore, that after the introductory rites (song, greeting, and opening prayer) one or more biblical readings be chosen with songs, psalms, or periods of silence inserted between them. In the homily these readings should be explained and applied to the congregation. Before or after the readings from Scripture, readings from the Fathers or other writers may also be selected that will help the community and each person to a true awareness of sin and heartfelt sorrow, in other words, to bring about conversion of life.

After the homily and reflection on God's word, it is desirable that the congregation, united in voice and spirit, pray together in a litany or in some other way suited to general participation. At the end the Lord's Prayer is said, asking God our Father "to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us . . . and deliver us from evil." The priest or the minister who presides concludes with a prayer and the dismissal of the people.

BENEFIT AND IMPORTANCE

37. Care must be taken to ensure that the faithful do not confuse these celebrations with the celebration of the sacrament of penance. [51] Penitential services are very helpful in promoting conversion of life and purification of heart. [52]

It is desirable to arrange them especially for these purposes:

  • to foster the spirit of penance within the Christian community;
  • to help the faithful to prepare for individual confession that can be made later at a convenient time;
  • to help children gradually to form their conscience about sin in human life and about freedom from sin through Christ;
  • to help catechumens during their conversion.

Penitential services, moreover, are very useful in places where no priest is available to give sacramental absolution. They offer help in reaching that perfect contrition that comes from charity and that enables the faithful to receive God's grace through a desire for the sacrament of penance in the future. [53]

Table of ContentsIV. Celebration of the Sacrament of PenanceVI. Adaptations of the Rite to Various Regions and CircumstancesEndnotes

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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