In this sacrament people are forgiven their sins by the words and actions of the priest. We call this ‘Absolution’. The priest represents God and the community who is affected by sin and the priest ministers forgiveness on behalf of God and the community.
Forms of Celebration
The sacrament can be celebrated in a one-to-one encounter with a priest (individual confession). Many parishes organise Penitential Services at special times; e.g. Advent, Lent and Parish Missions. In this form of celebration, people prepare as a community and many priests hear the confessions individually and people receive absolution individually.
Penance is a sign of sorrow and a commitment to try to make amends. It is also a sign of our sincerity to change our lives. This is what is meant by conversion.
When the Sacrament is a communal celebration, the penance is said as a community once all have had the opportunity to confess. When celebrated in the traditional one-to-one form, a penance is given and the penitent takes on that penance privately.