Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas. In 2023, Advent begins on December 3 and ends on December 24.
Preparing for Christmas
Find a Parish Near You. The following is a listing of special Advent Reconciliation Services from across the diocese, organized by vicariate.
- Southern Erie
- Northern Erie
- Southern Tier West
- Southern Tier East
If your Family of Parishes does not have their schedule listed, it may not be ready to be published. Please visit their website for their regular scheduled Confession times.
Examining Your Conscience
Examine your conscience by reflecting on your sins. This is the most necessary part of confession. You need to know your sins before you confess. It is okay to ask the priest if you are unsure if something is a sin and do not worry, the priest has heard everything before. (Check out some resources here)
Begin your Confession by making the sign of the crossing and say the following “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been [length of time] since my last Confession. These are my sin…”
The priest will give you a specific “penance”, which may be a few prayers, an act of charity, or something related to your sins as a response to God’s mercy.
Then he will invite you to pray the act of contrition, out loud. If you are nervous and happen to forget the words, most confessionals have the act of contrition printed out for you.
The priest will pray the prayer of absolution for which you will respond: “Amen.”
He will then conclude by saying “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace” and you respond, “Thanks be to God.” Don’t forget to do your penance as soon as possible.
- USCCB: Examinations Of Conscience
- National Catholic Register: Confession Guide for Adults & Confession Guide for Children
Acts of Contrition
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 your help,
to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments,
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Blessing of a Christmas Tree
The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle that symbolized Christ, the Light of the world. According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the Solemnity of Epiphany. The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing.
In the home the Christmas tree may be blessed by a parent or another family member, in connection with the evening meal on the Vigil of Christmas or at another suitable time on Christmas Day.