Throughout the history of the Catholic Church a sacrament has been defined as: “a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.”
Within these words we hear three important and distinct statements:
- A visible sign : An action performed by a priest or deacon as in Baptism when the water is poured over the child’s or adult’s head.
- Instituted by Christ : Jesus instructed His followers through the church to offer the seven sacraments to His followers. The sacraments have been passed down through the centuries to all the followers of Jesus.
- To give grace : Grace is a free gift from God once we have given our lives to Him and receive Him in the sacraments our lives are filled with a special grace from God.
Confessions are heard weekly before the Saturday 4:30 p.m. vigil mass at both churches. (3:00-4:00 p.m.) You may also call the parish office to request a priest hear your confession at the parish office when he is available.
There is a two year preparation period for First Reconciliation in the Diocese of Camden. The normal two year period of preparation for children is first and second grade. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is usually celebrated a few months before the Sacrament of First Eucharist.
Here is one example of the Prayer of the Penitent:
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 Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.
Absolution by the Priest
Following this prayer, the priest extends his hands, or at least his right hand, over the head of the penitent and pronounces the formula of absolution. As he says the final words he makes the sign of the cross over the head of the penitent:
God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, +
and of the Holy Spirit.
The penitent answers, "Amen."
Proclamation of Praise
After receiving pardon for his or her sins, the penitent praises the mercy of God and gives him thanks in a short invocation taken from Scripture, such as "Rejoice in the Lord and sing for joy, friends of God" (Ps 32:1-7, 10-11), "The Lord has remembered his mercy" (Lk 1:46-55), or "Blessed be God who chose us in Christ" (Eph 1:3-10).
Dismissal of the Penitent
Then the priest tells the penitent to go in peace. The penitent continues his or her conversion and expresses it by a life renewed according to the Gospel and more and more steeped in the love of God, for "love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Pt 4:8).