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Sacrament of Reconciliation

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer invites those who are troubled in conscience to make confession to a priest in this way:

‘If there be any of you, who… cannot quiet his own conscience, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me… and open his grief: that by the Ministry of God’s holy Word, he may receive the benefit of Absolution, together with ghostly counsel or advice, to the quieting of his conscience.’

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is never ‘obligatory’ for members of the Church of England; it is offered as one means, among others, through which Christians may experience the forgiveness and mercy of God.

The parish priest is happy to hear confessions after any weekday mass, or at other times by appointment.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (also called Confession or Penance) is one of the seven sacraments of the Church. It is available to anyone who may be troubled in conscience, and who needs the assurance of God’s mercy, love and forgiveness. It requires honest self-examination, and penitence – the desire to turn to God and start afresh.

Confession involves having a conversation with a priest which is confidential, safe and sympathetic.

The priest will pray with you, and then invite you to talk about what is on your conscience. She or he will listen to what you have to say; and then offer you encouragement and advice, sometimes by asking questions to try to help you understand better why the things you have described are troubling you. The purpose of this ‘spiritual counsel’ will never be to make you feel worse; it is offered to help you put right whatever may have gone wrong, and move forward with a deeper sense of God’s love in your life. The priest may also ask you to ‘perform a penance’. This is usually a short act of devotion (saying a prayer of reading a passage of Scripture), completing which symbolises your desire to start afresh within the love of God. The priest will then pronounce the Absolution, which declares God’s mercy and forgiveness, and give you a blessing before you go.