ITEM 3: MAJOR PAPER – TH209
Discuss the liturgical celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation of one penitent. Include: How is this sacrament part of the Mysterion?, a brief history of the rite, what are the essential elements and explanatory rites and what are the meanings behind the various parts of the rite? What are the effects of the sacrament?
The liturgical celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation of one penitent is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It is a part of the Churches mysterion, as it is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in which an individual confesses their sins made after their initial cleansing in the Sacrament of Baptism and is given forgiveness by a priest which has been given the authority to forgive sins by Jesus Christ. This particular sacrament is important because the individual has a chance to confesses their sins and become reconciled with the love of God and with the Church. This paper will explore a brief history of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as outline the essential elements of the sacrament and the importance and effect the Sacrament of Reconciliation has on the Church and its people.
The mystery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is centred from the notion that God reconciled with the world through sending his only son Jesus Christ, made man in order to free human beings from the slavery of sin. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Jesus was able to fulfil the covenant that God made with his people and brought reconciliation and salvation to the world. The sacrament of reconciliation is part of the Mysterion as the salvation of people by God is directly linked to the development of repentance within the gospels. Following Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Spirit was sent to the apostles, giving them authority to forgive or retain sins in the name of God and to preach repentance. An example of this is found in the Gospel of Mark where he states, “Repent and believe the Gospel” (1:15)
Following from the development of reconciliation within the gospels, the earliest commentaries regarding the notion of reconciliation are found throughout the gospel of Paul. Compared to other gospels, the gospel of Paul gives great attention to reconciliation as it aims to outline the importance of reconciliation in its own right. The letters attributed to Paul are a prime example of this, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Rom 5:10-11). As Paul brings the idea of reconciliation to the forefront of the Christian tradition, the development of reconciliation as a sacrament follows.
The elements of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the ways in which the penitent is able to reconcile have varied and continually changed over the centuries. In the days of the early Church, Christians distinguished their sins from lesser or greater sins. Only the greater sins required the process of reconciliation, while lesser sins could be forgiven through prayer alone. Following from this, in the third century, the Sacrament of Reconciliation emerged as a ritual involving the entire community. The confession of the penitent was a public occurrence, where an individual was made to repent their sins openly to the community within the Church. Various forms of punishment were issued for the scale of one’s sins, the most important being that an individual could not take part in the sacrament of the Eucharist. A major change in the act of penance came from the Council of Nicea (325) AD where bishops were given sole authority to act on behalf of God and forgive the sins of the penitent, however this was later changed in the fifth century as presbyters were also given similar authority. The sacrament of reconciliation...
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