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{{vm.product.SpProduct.Article}} Guide for Celebrating Reconciliation

J. Philip Horrigan

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In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the encounter of the penitent with the mercy of God is one of the most transforming moments in the spiritual life of a Catholic. The ritual itself has changed throughout history, but the purpose of the sacrament has remained the same: to seek the forgiveness of the Lord and to renew one’s efforts to live as a faithful and loving disciple of Jesus Christ. This resource provides pastoral insights for celebrating individual confession, communal Reconciliation services, and non-sacramental penance services with attention given to liturgical ministries, liturgical environment, and evangelization. As part of the Preparing Parish Worship™ series, this book includes:

  • Theological reflections on the reconciling love of God
  • A historical overview of the development of the Rite of Penance
  • A walk-through of the Rite of Penance
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Assistance with best liturgical practices
  • Inspirational and informative quotations from Scripture and Church documents

"Even though the current Rite of Penance has been in use for over forty years, many aspects of the Rite have never been sufficiently explored.  Father Horrigan’s book offers us an opportunity to reflect on the richness of the Rite and God’s great love and mercy that the Rite celebrates. 

In giving guidance on reforming the rites of the church, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy pointed out, “It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private (paragraph 27).”  This emphasis on the communal celebration of the Rite of Penance has sometimes been neglected.  Father Horrigan gives particular attention to the “Rite of Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution.”  In planning for parish Penance Services, he provides many practical suggestions of how we might use our best “liturgical behavior” which would include a full complement of liturgical ministers: greeters, servers, deacons, readers, musicians, etc.  Celebrated well, the congregation can truly experience God’s awesome love and mercy and be challenged to greater holiness.

Father Horrigan offers the entire parish a challenge: We are all called to the ongoing work of reconciliation, to truly become a community of forgivers as well as the forgiven.  This is what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus."
—Rev. Stephen J. Bird, Director, Office of Worship and Spiritual Life, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City


“Fr. Horrigan masterfully takes us through some of the deep treasures and unsung pieces of the Rite of Penance. This resource will help us better understand the purpose of the various forms of Penance and assist pastoral staffs with developing more meaningful Reconciliation services—from first Penance to the regular communal celebrations parishes have come to enjoy.  Confessors, liturgists, and penitents all will glean timely assistance from this pastoral guide and through the serious of questions and answers develop a clearer understanding of this important ritual that assists in the process of Reconciliation with God and the Body of Christ.”
—Rev. John Thomas Lane, SSS, Pastor, St. Paschal Baylon, Highland Heights, OH