Tag Archives: reconciliation



Christ’s work of mercy has two chief parts: what he did for all men, what he does for each; what he did once for all, what he does for one by one continually; what he did externally to us, what he does within us; what he did on earth, what he does in heaven; what he did in his own person, what he does by his Spirit; his death, and the water and blood after it; his meritorious sufferings, and the various gifts thereby purchased, of pardon, grace, reconciliation, renewal, holiness, spiritual communion; that is, his atonement, and the application of his atonement, or his atonement and our justification; he atones by the offering of himself on the cross; and as certainly (which is the point before us) he justifies by the mission of his Spirit.

– St John Henry Newman; Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification. (Jfc., 203-4)


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Jesus said to his disciples: “For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill, and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.

But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother ‘Fool’ he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin, and if a man calls him ‘Renegade’ he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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Bless us on this Lenten journey
as we recognise the call of Christ to repentance,
that we may be free to open our lives to him.
Bless us as we reflect on the occasions
of Christ’s companionship with us in the past.
Bless us as channels of reconciliation:
being reconciled to Christ and to others.
May we be channels to lead others
back to Christ.


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We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.

For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead; and the reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.

From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh. Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


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We praise You, invisible Father, giver of immortality, and source of life and light. You love all human beings, especially the poor. You seek reconciliation with all of them and You draw them to Yourself by sending Your beloved Son to visit them.

Make us really alive by giving us the light to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent. Grant us the Holy Spirit and enable us to speak volumes about Your ineffable mysteries. Amen.
– St Serapion


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‘The annual Lenten season is the fitting time to climb the Holy mountain of Easter.

‘The Lenten season has a double character, namely to prepare both catechumens [new people who become Catholics this year] and faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. The catechumens with both the rite of election and scrutinies, and by catechesis, are prepared for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation; the faithful ever more attentive to the word of God and prayer, prepare themselves by penance for the renewal of their baptismal promises.’


The whole rite of Christian initiation has a markedly paschal character, since it is therein that the sacramental participation in the death and resurrection of Christ takes place for the first time. Therefore Lent should have its full character as a time of purification and enlightenment, especially through the scrutinies and by the presentations; naturally the paschal Vigil should be regarded as the proper time to celebrate the sacraments of initiation.

Communities that do not have any catechumens should not however fail to pray for those who in the forthcoming paschal Vigil will receive the sacraments of Christian initiation. Pastors should draw the attention of the faithful to those moments of significant importance to their spiritual life nourished by their baptismal profession of faith, and which they will be invited to renew in the Easter Vigil, ‘the fullness of the lenten observance’.

In Lent there should be catechesis for those adults who, although baptised when infants, were not brought up in the faith and consequently have not been confirmed nor have they received the Eucharist. During this period penitential services should be arranged to help prepare them for the sacrament of reconciliation.

The Lenten season is also an appropriate time for the celebration of penitential rites on the model of the scrutinies for unbaptised children who are at an age to be catechised, and also for children already baptised, before being admitted to the sacrament of penance.

The bishop should have particular care to foster the catechumenate of both adults and children and according to circumstance, to preside at the prescribed rites, with the devout participation of the local community.


The Sundays of Lent take precedence over all feasts and all solemnities. Solemnities occurring on these Sundays are observed on the preceding Saturday. The weekdays of Lent have precedence over obligatory memorials.

The catechesis on the Paschal mystery and the sacraments should be given a special place in the Sunday homilies. The text of the Lectionary should be carefully explained, particularly the passages of the Gospel which illustrate the diverse aspects of Baptism and of the other sacraments, and of the mercy of God.

Pastors should frequently and as fully as possible explain the word of God – in homilies on weekdays, in celebrations of the word of God, in penitential celebrations, in various reunions, in visiting families or on the occasion of blessing families. The faithful should try and attend weekday Mass but where this is not possible they should at least be encouraged to read the lessons, either with their family or in private.

‘The Lenten season should retain something of its penitential character’. As regards catechesis, it is important to impress on the minds of the faithful not only the social consequences of sin but also that aspect of the virtue of penance, which involves the detestation of sin as an offence against God’.

The virtue and practice of penance form a necessary part of the preparation for Easter: from that inner conversion of heart should spring the practice of penance, both for the individual Christian and of the whole community; which while being adapted to the conditions of the present time, should nevertheless witness to the evangelical spirit of penance and also be to the advantage of others.

The role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be neglected and encouragement is to be given to pray for sinners; this intention should be included in the prayer of the faithful.

‘The faithful are to be encouraged to participate in an ever more intense and fruitful way in the Lenten liturgy and in penitential celebrations. They are to be clearly reminded that both according to the law and tradition, they should approach the sacrament of penance during this season, so that with purified heart they may participate in the paschal mysteries. It is appropriate that during Lent the sacrament of Penance be celebrated according to the rite for the reconciliation of several penitents with individual confession and absolution, as given in the Roman Ritual’.
Pastors should devote themselves to the ministry of reconciliation, and provide sufficient time for the faithful to avail themselves of this sacrament.

‘All Lenten observances should be of such nature that they also witness to the life of the local Church and foster it. The Roman tradition of the “stational” churches can be recommended as a model for gathering the faithful in one place. In this way the faithful can assemble in larger numbers, especially under the leadership of the bishop of the diocese, or at the tombs of the Saints, or in the principal churches of the city or sanctuaries, or some place of pilgrimage which has a special significance for the diocese.

‘In Lent the altar should not be decorated with flowers, and musical instruments may be played only to give necessary support to the singing’. This is in order that the penitential character of the season may be preserved.

Likewise from the beginning of Lent until the paschal Vigil ‘Alleluia’ is to be omitted in all celebrations, even on solemnities and feasts.

The chants to be sung in celebrations – especially of the Eucharist, but also at devotional exercises – should be in harmony with the spirit of the season and the liturgical texts.

Devotional exercises which harmonise with the Lenten season are to be encouraged, for example, ‘The Stations of the Cross’. They should help foster the liturgical spirit with which the faithful can prepare themselves for the celebration of Christ’s paschal mystery.


‘On the Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent, the faithful receive the ashes, thus entering into the time established for the purification of their souls. This sign of penance, a traditionally biblical one, has been preserved among the Church’s customs. It signifies the human condition of the sinner, who seeks to express his guilt before the Lord in an exterior manner, and by so doing expresses his interior conversion, led on by the confident hope that the Lord will be merciful. This same sign marks the beginning of the way of conversion, which is developed through the celebration of the sacraments of penance during the days before Easter’.
The Blessing and imposition of Ashes should take place either in the Mass, or outside Mass. In the latter case it is to be part of a Liturgy of the Word and conclude with the Prayer of the Faithful.

Ash Wednesday is to be observed as a day of penance in the whole Church, one of both abstinence and fasting.

The first Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the annual Lenten observance. In the Mass of this Sunday there should be some distinctive elements which underline this important moment; e.g. the entrance procession with litanies of the saints. During the Mass of the first Sunday in Lent, the bishop should celebrate the rite of election in the cathedral or in some other church, as seems appropriate.

The Gospel pericopes of the Samaritan woman, of the man blind from birth and the resurrection of Lazarus, are assigned to the II, IV and V Sundays of Lent of Year A; since they are of particular significance in relation to Christian initiation, they can also be read in years B and C, especially in places where there are catechumens.

On ‘Laetare Sunday’, the fourth Sunday of Lent, and in solemnities and feasts, musical instruments may be played and the altar decorated with flowers. Rose coloured vestments may be worn on this Sunday.

The practice of covering the crosses and images in the church may be observed, if the episcopal conference should so decide. The crosses are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
– from Congregatio pro Cultu Divino, 1988


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Question: I regret ever so much that I got carried away with a girl when I was about seventeen, I went to confession and feel really relieved I could talk to the priest…I did my act of contrition, and would never do anything like that again – but although I may have been forgiven, I’m no virgin, and I’m depressed and hurt about it.”

Answer by Fr O’Brien: According to the dictionary definition, a virgin is a person (male or female) who has never had sexual intercourse…I am speaking not only of physical virginity but also of spiritual virginity. Spiritual virginity is purification from sin. If I were your professor of literature, I would assign you to write a paper on this subject: “Saints who lost their virginity through sin but who regained their virginity (purity of soul) through forgiveness.”

Today, the Church has given the powerful Sacrament of Confession a new and consoling title: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The dictionary tells us that to reconcile means to restore. Through the Sacrament, your virginity (your purity of soul) has been restored. You can feel at home with those heroic saints in Heaven whose virginity has been restored (secondary virginity). They have become virginal through God’s loving gift of forgiveness. So do you through the Sacrament. Do not permit Satan to tempt you again, neither with depression or the feeling that you are a second class Christian…

We are told that Jesus not only forgives: Jesus forgets! It is said that Jesus permits Himself to forget our sins of the past. For us humans to question the complete and total forgiveness of Jesus is certainly not very complimentary on our part. If you cannot forget the past, you can at least stop worrying about it. The secret is TRUST! …You are a virgin, you are chaste in the sense that your soul, after the Sacrament of Reconciliation, has become pure as the driven snow. In the Holy Bible (Isaiah 1:18) our Lord says with firmness: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Believe Him…please believe Him! Restart from there! Thanks a million!


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Heavenly Father, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ Your Son You willed to reconcile all mankind to Yourself and so reconcile all human beings with each other in peace. Hear the prayer of Your people. Let Your spirit of life and holiness renew us in the depths of our being and unite us throughout our life to the risen Christ: for He is our Brother and Saviour. With all Christians we seek to follow the way of the Gospel. Keep us faithful to the teachings of the Church and alive to the needs of our neighbours. Give us strength to work for reconciliation, unity, and peace.

May those who seek the God they do not yet know discover in You the source of light and hope. May those who already know You seek even further and experience the depths of Your love. Forgive us our sins, deepen our faith, kindle our hope, and enliven our hearts with love. May we walk in the footsteps of Jesus as Your beloved sons and daughters. With the help of Mary, our Mother, may Your Church be the sign and sacrament of salvation for all people, that the world may believe in Your love and Your truth. Amen.


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