The sacrament of Reconciliation Penance and Reconciliation

Often called ‘Confession’, this powerful Sacrament of forgiveness is a great gift from God that can transform our lives.



In Baptism, we are ‘born again’ into a new life with Christ and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which cleanses us from our original sin and makes us holy. So at our Baptism we are made spotlessly clean! But our human nature is weak and even after Baptism we still keep messing up and tend to do the wrong things. Jesus told his followers, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) When Jesus says repent he is asking us to turn back to Him and away from the bad things that we do, hating the sins that we have committed. It also means being determined to change our life for the better in the future. If we do repent and say sorry then God will give us the grace and the strength we need to begin again, more determined than ever to live a holy life.


The Church is the Body of Christ with Jesus as its Head and we are members of that body. When we sin, we turn away from God and we break our relationship with him and with the Christian people around us; that is the Church. On our own, without God’s grace and mercy we wouldn’t be able to restore our relationship with Him. Only God can forgive sins but he has given the Church the authority to grant forgiveness on His behalf. Jesus said to St Peter, the first Pope “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19) The words bind and loose mean: whoever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whoever you restore into your communion, God will welcome back into relationship with Him. After his resurrection from the dead Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22 – 23)


The Sacrament is performed in secret between the penitent (the one seeking forgiveness) and the priest. The Sacrament has three parts for the penitent: repentance (sorrow for their sins), confession (disclosure of their sins to the priest) and reparation (a willingness to do something to make up for the wrongs they have committed). When the Church says that someone must be sorry for their sins it means that they must be sorry that they have offended God. It is not enough to be sorry because they were caught or because their actions had unexpected consequences, that is not true repentance. The Sacrament is completed when the Church, working through the priest, forgives the penitent’s sins in the name of Jesus Christ and determines the penance. This might consist of saying prayers, an act of charity or self-denial or something relevant that will help them to grow in love and humility. Through Confession the penitents are healed, their baptismal innocence is restored and they are reconciled with God and the Church.


For many people the actual confessing of their sins to the priest is the most daunting part of the Sacrament but the priest will not judge you or tell you off. We are all ashamed of the bad things that we do but it is only by naming them aloud that we fully accept our sinfulness. In the Sacrament the priest is actually standing in the place of God, who loves us and wants to help us to grow in faith and love. He is bound to keep anything that is said a secret and will be delighted that we want to turn back to God and be reconciled with the Church. In the Sacrament the priest is being the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, the Good Samaritan who bandages our wounds and the Father who waits for the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return.


The Church teaches that we can express sorrow for our small everyday sins and be converted in a number of ways like fasting, prayer and charitable acts. There is also frequent reception of the Eucharist, Bible reading and acts of worship. But we need to go to Confession regularly. The Church says that it should be at least once a year but it helps to go more often so that we can receive the great grace that God wants to pour out on us in His forgiveness. This grace will help us to grow in holiness and in the Life of the Spirit.


“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ” 1 John 1: 8-9

Anointed with Power- The Sacrament of Confirmation

“God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through the gospel that you might share in the glory of our lord jesus christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14



The Role of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has played a very important role throughout Salvation History. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and when he was baptised the Holy Spirit came down upon him. From that moment onwards Jesus had the fullness of the Holy Spirit working within him and he promised many times that he would send us a helper who would reveal to us the Kingdom of God. On the day of Pentecost this prophecy was fulfilled and the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. When Peter preached to the crowds many people were converted and baptised. The apostles laid hands on the newly baptised to pass on to them the gift of the Holy Spirit as St Paul writes, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Confirmation Completes our Baptism

The Sacraments of Confirmation, Baptism and First Holy Communion are together called the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. Confirmation is necessary to be fully initiated into the Church and it completes the grace that we received through our Baptism. In Acts Chapter 8 it describes how the apostles Peter and John laid hands on some of the early Christians, “When Peter and John arrived in Samaria, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8: 14 – 17).

The Origins of the Sacrament

Originally the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation were celebrated together. The Bishop, being the successor to the apostles would baptise and then confirm new Christians in the same ceremony. But it became increasingly more difficult for the Bishop to attend every baptism in his diocese so it was decided by the Western Church to split the two Sacraments with the priests or deacons administering the Sacrament of Baptism and the Bishop usually conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation at a later date.

Anointing with Oil

The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by an anointing with sacred oil called Chrism. In ancient times oil was a sign of abundance and joy and it symbolised cleaning, strength, beauty and healing. When a person is anointed with oil at Confirmation, it shows that they now have the fullness of the Holy Spirit within them and share completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and by this anointing they are also marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. In the time of Christ soldiers were marked with their leader’s seal to show which side they were fighting on and slaves were marked with their master’s seal so that everyone knew who owned them. In the Sacrament of Confirmation God marks us with the seal of ownership, we now belong totally to God and we have been enrolled into his service for ever.

The Celebration of the Sacrament

When Confirmation is celebrated, those being confirmed are asked to renew their baptismal promises and to make a profession of faith. This is a link back to their Baptism when it was probably their parents who made the profession of faith for them. The bishop then extends his hands over the whole group being confirmed, and asks for an outpouring of the Spirit saying, “All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide.” Following this the Bishop invites each of the Confirmands to approach him and he anoints them individually with chrism on their foreheads, saying, ‘Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.’ The newly Confirmed then share the sign of peace with the Bishop signifying their union with him and with all the Church members.

The Effects of Confirmation

When we are confirmed we receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit just as the Apostles received it on the Day of Pentecost. It also increases the grace that we received at our baptism and helps us to better appreciate that God is our loving Father. We are united more closely with Christ and so it helps us to pray. We receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened to go and spread the Gospel and to be true witnesses of Christ in our words and actions.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

At Confirmation we receive the seven fold gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are qualities that develop in us when we are guided by the Holy Spirit in our lives. In his letters St Paul also mentions other gifts of the Spirit, sometimes called charisms, which may also be given to Christians. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12: 7 – 11) These charisms, whether they are simple and humble or extraordinary are graces of the Holy Spirit which are given to build up the Church and the people of God and they should be used with humility and love under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

The fruits of the Spirit are the attitudes that are formed in us as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. When people meet us they should notice these fruits in our lives. The tradition of the Church lists twelve fruits of the Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. When we are guided by the Holy Spirit we will be kinder, more loving and generous. We will also be more aware of the temptations of sin that are all around us and have the strength to fight against these.

It may be some time since we were Confirmed but we should be living the Sacrament daily by submitting our lives anew to God each morning. If we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide our thoughts, words and deeds throughout the coming day he will lead us towards holiness and wholeness in our lives. Come Holy Spirit be our guide and our strength!


Written by June Palme

Breaking Down the Barrier

Jesus Rejoices Over Every Sinner Who Repents

One day, while sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, in my mind I saw a picture of myself and then I saw Jesus rejoicing over me. I was wondering why Jesus was so happy and then I realised that it was because I had just been to Confession. Luke 15:10 says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Jesus showed me that, along with the angels, he also rejoices over a sinner who repents. He dances with great joy when we confess with real repentance. He tells everyone in heaven that his child is back to holiness. His child has become a saint again! He is so happy when we confess and he declares that happiness around heaven. How great is that?

He showed me how we can see with the eyes of faith, what happens in heaven, when we repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. Jesus says to the angels, ‘Yes, my child has come back. I knew that they would come back one day. Now let us celebrate their return.’

A Grand Festival in Heaven

He celebrates our repentance with a grand festival in heaven. Just think about it, do we want to see Jesus rejoice over us? If we resolve to confess regularly, we will see him rejoicing. Even though we may only commit little sins, these spoil our innocent hearts and we need the healing touch of the Sacrament. If we clean our hearts regularly for Jesus, he can live within us. He cannot live anywhere that is spoiled by sin. When I had this experience, I cried out with joy. The best thing that we can do in this life is to make our God happy.

Persevere and Don’t Give Up

Will Jesus give up on us if we sin? No. Jesus wants us to persevere and not give up fighting. We all are soldiers in the army of Jesus and the duty of soldiers is to fight. When a little baby learns to walk, even though he keeps falling down, he never gives up but gets up and tries again. That is what God wants to see from all of us.

This does not mean that Confession is a licence to sin. Jesus gives us the grace through the Sacrament to defeat sin, and after our Confession we must use this grace to strengthen us for the fight. There are other sources of grace that will help us: Regular Scripture reading, personal prayer, fasting once a week, attending Holy Mass every day if possible, regular confessions and spending time before the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus Gives us the Grace

These will all help us and make us stronger to fight and defeat the devil when he comes to attack our weaknesses. Don’t forget that Jesus knows the struggles that we go through, when we fight and when we fall, because he knows that we are weak.

My advice to everyone is to repent of your sins, no matter how big or small they are. Repent and receive God’s forgiveness and grace. Remember that Jesus is rejoicing in heaven because of your Confession and don’t forget that we can resist temptations and avoid sin. We can do it because Jesus gives us the grace to do it. Praise be to God!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17″

Written by Dona Solichan

A Touch Of Heaven On Earth

The Mass is a communal celebration.

The Eucharist that we receive is the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is sometimes called Holy Communion because when we receive it we are united with God in heaven. Through the Eucharist we are also united with all the Catholics worldwide who also receive the Eucharist and those who have died and gone before us to the glory of heaven.

The Mass is a sacrifice. 

Jesus offers himself to us in the Eucharist and in exchange we offer our lives to God and commit to serve one another in charity. Every Mass presents again the death and resurrection of Jesus, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church. In the celebration of the Mass somehow these events, become present and real to us. In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

The Mass is a Meal.

The Mass feeds us with the word of God from the Scripture readings and with the Eucharist, the Bread of Heaven and the food of eternal life. To prepare ourselves we fast for at least an hour before Mass. As we need food and drink to keep our bodies healthy so we need the Eucharist to keep our spiritual life healthy and to grow in our Christian life. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).

The Eucharist strengthens us. When we receive Holy Communion we are given the grace to help us to stay close to God, to resist the temptation of sin and to be more loving to others. Through the Eucharist we are united with Christ Jesus and become more like him. “He who eats my esh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)

The Mass is The source and summit of our christian life.

It is the source because we derive our strength from the Eucharist and when we receive Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, we are receiving the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings into our bodies. This must be the high point of our lives. Nothing can compare with the great privilege of being reconciled with the Father, united with Jesus and lled with the Holy Spirit.

The Mass is a promise of the things to come.

In the Mass we get a foretaste of heaven. Jesus is present but his presence is veiled. Receiving the Eucharist prepares us for the time that we will meet Jesus face to face in his heavenly kingdom.

We are all participants, There are no spectators.

Christ himself is present, presiding invisibly over the celebration while the priest celebrating the Mass acts in the person of Christ to lead the liturgy. We may be in the pews, but when we gather together for Mass we are all participants, there are no spectators. There is a role for everyone in the celebration by joining in the prayers and the hymn singing, by silently offering ourselves to God when the gifts are presented and by echoing the great “Amen” at the end of the Eucharistic prayer. It is by participating more fully in the Mass that we will appreciate more fully the great grace that owes from it into our lives.