Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  267 / 665 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 267 / 665 Next Page
Page Background

Chapter 18. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation • 239

holy communion for a long period of time through no fault of their own”

(cf. CIC, can. 961). General absolution involves one priest’s giving abso-

lution to a group of people, who do not make individual confessions

to a priest. Those penitents guilty of serious or grave sin are expected to

make an individual confession as soon as possible but certainly within a

year of receiving general absolution. Judgment as to whether the condi-

tions for general absolution are present is a matter not for the confessor,

but for the diocesan bishop to determine under the guidance of norms

established by the Holy See.

Absolution from the Priest

After we confess our sins to the priest, we are given some encouragement

from the priest for our moral and spiritual growth. The priest then gives

us a penance and asks us to say an Act of Contrition. Then the priest

It is called the Sacrament of Conversion because it makes

sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the

first step in returning to the Father from whom one has

strayed by sin. It is called the Sacrament of Penance, since

it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial

steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. It is called

the Sacrament of Confession since the disclosure or con-

fession of sins is an essential element of this Sacrament.

In a profound sense, it is also a “confession”—acknowl-

edgment and praise—of the holiness of God and of his

mercy toward sinful man. It is called the Sacrament of

Forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution,

God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.” It is called

the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it imparts to the

sinner the love of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to

God” (2 Cor 5:20). He who lives by God’s merciful love is

ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go, first be reconciled

to your brother.” (CCC, nos. 1423-1424, citing Mt 5:24)