Penance comes from a Greek word that means to change direction. It is the sacrament that helps us acknowledge the frailty and limits of our humanity. By honestly owning, naming and expressing sorrow for where we have failed, we can experience forgiveness which in turn, deepens our capacity to love.
The Sacrament of Penance then allows us to start afresh and re-invigorates our baptismal commitment to be 'other Christs' in the world.
This Sacrament is celebrated by 3 different Rites of Reconciliation:
Rite 1: In the light of God's Word, the individual penitent confesses to the priest, expressing sorrow for words, actions or omissions that have hurt others. By laying on of hands, the sign of the Cross and words of absolution, the priest mediates the forgiveness of God and of the Community.
Rite 2:highlights the community dimension of sin. Members of the community gather with several priests to review their lives in the light of God's Word and acknowledge their sinfulness. After individual confession and absolution, this Rite concludes with communal prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Rite 3: also highlights the communal dimension of sin. The community gathers, usually with one priest, and together acknowledges sinfulness and sorrow and general absolution is given. This Rite is reserved for times of crisis or emergency e.g. when soldiers are going into battle.