“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”
– 1 John 20:22-23
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most beautiful aspects of catholicism. The sacrament "washes us clean," and renews us in Christ. It helps us to understand that just as our God freely forgives us in our transgressions, we too should be willing to give and receive forgiveness freely. Preparation for the celebration of First Reconciliation with children who are baptized is coordinated by the parish. The parish catechetical leader (director of faith formation / religious education) coordinates the process of preparation and the celebration under the supervision of the pastor. Typically First Reconciliation takes place in second grade, with First Eucharist in third grade. The preparation process is separate and distinct from the second grade faith formation curriculum and is typically short-term.
Contrition: a sincere sorrow for having offended God, and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve not to repeat our sin.
Confession: confronting our sins in a profound way by speaking about them- aloud- to God through the priest.
Penance: an important part of our healing is the “penance” we perform in reparation for our sins.
Absolution: the priest, by virtue of his ordination, speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to Himself through the merits of the Cross
THE ACT OF CONTRITION
God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, do penance, and to amend my life.
Resources about this sacrament can be found on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):