The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the Church's continuation of Christ’s desire to forgive our sins and spiritually heal us.  The Gospel of John records that on the evening of Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples; "...he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'” [John 20:22-23]

The Sacrament of Reconciliation takes place in the Eucharistic Chapel, in the front left corner of the sanctuary of the church.

Reconciliation is offered on Saturday afternoons at 4:00 pm or during one of our Reconciliation services scheduled throughout the year.  You may also call our pastor, Fr. Christopher Welch, at 607-432-3920 ext. 4, to schedule an appointment for reconciliation.

Children prepare for the reception of First Reconciliation through the Faith Formation program (607-432-3920, ext. 204.)


A “Walk Through” the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The priest is waiting, ready to welcome anyone who asks for forgiveness and Christ’s healing presence. The simple rite consists of a dialog between the priest and the individual penitent.  It is the same profound simplicity with which Jesus encountered people in his ministry of announcing the Kingdom of God.

Preparation for the Sacrament
Catholics are led to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance) by feelings of remorse and the awareness of actions that caused hurt to others and by the desire to live a more holy life.  This movement of the soul, called contrition, includes a desire to start over, to move away from sin and be forgiven.  Contrition leads to an honest self-assessment of sins, omissions of the good that could have been done, and habits and attitudes that are harmful to us and the community. 

The Church calls this internal assessment an examination of conscience.  We are guided in this process by evaluating our lives in the light of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12), the parable of the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy we are called to live out as Christians.  Sin consists of a serious matter, done with an understanding of its seriousness and with sufficient freedom of will.  This preparation might be concluded with a prayer to God asking for the courage and strength needed for this spiritual step.  During this review of past behavior and attitudes we may have a question about sin.  Ask the priest!  He is there to assist us in our spiritual journeys. 


Going to Confession: the “How to…”
After the examination of conscience, we are ready to enter the sacramental rite.  Many churches offer a choice of postures: a place where a person sits in a conversational attitude facing the priest or behind a screen which allows for anonymity.  All are welcome to choose the setting that is comfortable for them. 

  • The rite begins with the Sign of the Cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".  The priest will offer words of welcome and possibly read a short Scripture passage
  • The individual then tells (confesses) their sins: failings, omissions, and attitudes that signify a broken relationship with God.  Speaking aloud the words of personal sinfulness is a crucial element of the dialog and unburdening of the heart.  In either setting, the priest may occasionally ask a question for clarification.  The sacrament is not a counseling session and a lengthy discussion is not expected. 
  • The priest then assigns a Penance which may take the form of prayers, an act of charity, or restitution.  The act of penance is an outward sign to us of our willingness to receive God’s grace and live a holy life. 
  • The penitent then prays an Act of Contrition expressing sorrow for their sins.  Options for this prayer are:
    • expressing sorrow for your sins in your own personal words
    • the Jesus Prayer: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” 
    • or the following prayer: 

“O My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with the help of your grace, to do penance, to sin no more and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us. In His Name, O Lord, have mercy.”

  • The rite comes to a climax with the words of Absolution prayed by the priest.  Through the priest, it is Jesus speaking and forgiving us. 
  • The sacrament concludes with the priest inviting the person to go in peace.  The response “Thanks be to God” expresses the gratitude of the person, now forgiven.


Some final thoughts…

  • Anything told to a priest during the Sacrament of Reconciliation can never be revealed to another person.  There are no exceptions to this tradition.  This is called the “seal of the confessional.”
  • If you have regretfully had an unpleasant experience in the past with either a priest-confessor or just the sacrament, consider approaching again.  Do not let the past limit your future. 
  • And remember, no matter how long it has been since you have prayed the Sacrament, you can always return to God.  Recall the parable of the prodigal son?  The father runs out to his son, embraces and kisses him, dismissing the boy’s prepared excuses!  Love and compassion are what we are all called to live. [Luke 15:11-32]  In the same way, God is always waiting for you to return with open arms.

 Looking for an Examination of Conscience? CLICK HERE