Communal Penance Services or Reconciliation Services are held during Advent and Lent at parishes. Sometimes parishes combine services for this sacrament. All are always welcome regardless of what parish a person is registered at, even if they aren’t registered at any parish yet.

Advent and Lent are beautiful times to celebrate the reconciling love and the healing graces our Lord offers us. Like all religious experiences, it takes preparation.

Reconciliation is what God does. Receiving it and celebrating it is what we do. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a most natural way to celebrate His forgiveness and love. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the opportunity to grow closer to God.

25969014705_e502ea8aa9_oCommunal Penance Services or Reconciliation Services are a form of sacramental confession. It mixes public prayer and individual confession to a priest, followed by absolution. A communal penance service always includes the following:

  • The penitents and sorrow for sin usually expressed in an Act of Contrition
  • Confession of sins to a priest with absolution given
  • An act of penance

The Structure of the Service

Public Prayer

Usually, a communal penance service includes a Scripture reading and a brief exhortation by the priest. An examination of conscience follows this, and the community prays the Act of Contrition together. Sometimes, a single, general penance is assigned to everyone participating; at other times, a penance is given during the individual confession.

Individual Confession and Reconciliation

After the communal part of the ceremony, those present will individually confess their sins to the priest and receive absolution and penance if it has not been assigned in the communal setting. The Act of Contrition is not repeated privately because it has been part of the communal service. The priest prays the words of absolution individually over the penitent, or a collective penance is given.