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Chapter 18. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation • 241

1. How can we prepare for the Sacrament of Penance?

The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared

for by an examination of conscience made in the light of

the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be

found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of

the Gospels and the apostolic Letters, such as the Sermon

on the Mount and apostolic teaching. (CCC, no. 1454)

2. What is the seal of Confession?

The Church declares that every priest who hears confes-

sions is bound under very severe penalties to keep abso-

lute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have

confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that

confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret,

which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental

seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the

priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament. (CCC, no. 1467)

3. How does reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

anticipate a person’s judgment before God?

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the

merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way

the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of

his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered

the choice between life and death, and it is only by the

road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from

which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ

through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death

to life and “does not come into judgment.” (CCC, no. 1470,

citing Jn 5:24)