Forgiveness and Reconciliation
When our union with God and the Church has been ruptured by sin, we are invited to be reconciled through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available weekly on Saturday mornings from 9:00-10:00am inside the Saint Joseph Chapel on the ground level of The Basilica. Contact the Liturgy Office, 612.333.1381, for more information.
The sacrament of reconciliation is rooted in the Order of Penitents. This order or group of people was established by the church to give those who had gravely sinned a second chance. Members of this order were banned from church. They were ordered to pray and fast very intensely. After a suitable period of time they were welcomed back into the church.
The rites that accompanied the Order of Penitents were very public. Sinners were expelled from the Church, sprinkled with ashes, made to wear sackcloth and then received back into the Church by the bishop.
By the 6th century, the Order of Penitents had mostly disappeared and was gradually replaced with individual confessions and private penance, popularized throughout Europe by Irish monks.
This shift in practice was accompanied by a shift in thinking. A highly communal understanding of conversion, penance and reconciliation was replaced with a much more individualistic view.
In the 10th century, absolution became part of the sacrament, as a way to mark the return of the penitent into the fullness of the Church.
In 1215, the Lateran Council imposed the requirement of an Easter confession or annual confession.
During the 20th century ,the communal aspect of this sacrament was rediscovered. The theology of the revised rite of 1972 and the incorporation of communal celebrations of the sacrament testify to this.
The early Church referred to this sacrament as a mini-baptism because it returns a person to full union with the Church.
People often interchange the words reconciliation, penance or confession. But each has a slightly differing meaning.
- Reconciliation emphasizes the fact that a person is reconciled with God and the Church upon reception of the sacrament.
- Penance refers to the penitent's conversion, which is necessary in order to celebrate the sacrament fruitfully.
- Confession is derived from the part of the sacrament where the penitents confess their personal sins.
The sacrament of reconciliation relies upon a sense of ongoing conversion, a desire to repent and a need to be reconciled with God and the community. These three movements will free an individual from the alienation and isolation caused by sin.