What’s in a name? This sacrament is often referred to as Confession and is officially called Penance. However today it is generally referred to as Reconciliation. These names refer to particular parts of the Sacrament. First, we feel sorrowful in our hearts, and have a determination not to sin again. We then confess our sins to a priest. After our confession and an Act of Contrition, we receive absolution of our sins and a penance to strengthen us to live fully and in love. By receiving the sacrament we are reconciled.
Not only does the sacrament free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”