“When a number of penitents assemble at the same time to receive sacramental reconciliation, it is fitting that they be prepared for the sacrament by a celebration of the word of God. Those who will receive the sacrament at another time may also take part in the service. Communal celebration shows more clearly the ecclesial nature of penance.” (Rite of Penance, 22).
During Lent it is appropriate for all the baptized—including those candidates who are preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and those candidates preparing to celebrate confirmation or first Communion during the Easter season—to participate in the Sacrament of Penance. Remember that catechumens cannot celebrate the Sacrament of Penance until after they are baptized; however, they can be encouraged to participate in the liturgy to be strengthened by the Word of God and the modeling of penitence by the assembly.
Below is a script for a lenten reconciliation liturgy prepared by Diana Macalintal. It may be adapted to be either a sacramental celebration which includes an opportunity for individual confession and absolution, or a penitential liturgy (read more about penitential liturgies here) that prepares the assembly to celebrate the sacrament at a later time (for the latter option, omit the section in brackets). The liturgy may be led by a priest, deacon, or other minister using the appropriate adaptations. Because the liturgy recalls the reconciliation we first encounter through baptism, it adapts a ritual signing with holy water in which all the baptized may participate. Please feel free to copy, adapt, and use the text free of charge for your own parishes.
Download a Word file of this liturgy here.
Lenten Reconciliation Service
© 2007, Diana Macalintal
The liturgy begins in a similar way to the Sunday lenten liturgies, except the Penitential Rite is omitted.
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
Psalm: Psalm of the season
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Homily or reflection
Examination of Conscience
Music for the acclamation begins.
My friends, as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises this Easter,
let us bring our hearts and minds before the Lord.
Let us examine our consciences, remembering that God is merciful.
Together, let us kneel.
Acclamation is sung – “Lamb of God” from Mass of Creation
You come to look for the lost sheep; joyfully you carry it on your shoulders.
Yet do we run away from you
because of pride, arrogance, or shame? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You go to meet the prodigal son; you embrace him in your arms.
Yet have we become jealous of your mercy
for those who we think don’t deserve it? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You choose the humble and the sinner to be your apostles;
you have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Yet are we deaf to your voice
because of our need to be perfect, self-sufficient, or right all the time? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You save Peter from drowning in the sea when he lost his faith in you.
Yet are we too afraid to even try what seems impossible? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You enter the house of Zacheaus in order to seek out and save what was lost.
Yet do we close our doors to your own people? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You accept the perfumed oil of the sinful woman;
because of her tears you pardon and defend her.
Yet do we carry stony and indifferent hearts,
refusing to ask for and offer forgiveness? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You heal the lepers and restore them to wholeness,
though only one returns to give you thanks.
Yet do we daily take your blessings for granted? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
You open the gates of Paradise to the good thief crucified by your side.
Yet do we condemn and crucify others
with our words, actions, and failure to act? [pause]And so we pray: (Jesus, Lamb of God…)
Our God is a God of mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love.
Like the father who welcomes us home,
or the mother who kisses away our wounds, our God is ready to forgive.
So let us trust in his goodness as, together, we confess our sin.
The assembly may be invited to place a hand on the shoulder of the person next to them.
All: I confess to almighty God….
Let us stand and pray for forgiveness as Jesus taught us. Our Father….
Remembrance of Baptismal Reconciliation
Music for procession begins.
My brothers and sisters, we have neglected the gifts of our baptism,
and we have confessed our sin before God and each other.
Let us come forward now and recall the commitment we made
when God first raised us to new life.
Several ministers each hold a small bowl of holy water. As members of the assembly approach them, the ministers mark the foreheads of the faithful with a cross of baptismal water, saying:
Remember your baptism, and be faithful to the Gospel.
[Individual Confession and Absolution]
Penitents may go to the priests designated for individual confession, and confess their sins.
Proclamation of Praise for God’s Mercy
Presider: Give praise to God who remembers not our sin.
All sing a song of praise.
Sign of Peace
Presider: Let us share with one another a sign of peace.
God, our help in every age,
you have washed away our sin with the cleansing waters of baptism
and have made us your own chosen ones to be called holy and beloved.
We give you thanks for your unending love and mercy.
Strengthen us with your Word and fill us with your Spirit
that we may profess our faith with joy
and renew our baptismal vows at the Easter feast
you prepare for your children who return home to you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross saying:
May God bless us and keep us. (+) Amen.
May God smile upon us and be gracious to us. Amen.
May God look upon us kindly, and give us peace. Amen.
Friends, peace and joy are ours this day.
Let us go now in peace. Thanks be to God.
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[…] are very useful in places where no priest is available…” (Rite of Penance, 37). You can use this outline to celebrate a penitential service in the home. You would not, of course, include “Individual […]