The Sacrament of Reconciliation
Reconciliation and First Holy Communion enrolement form
After saying this he breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained." John 20: 22-23.
Sin is part of the human condition. Throughout human history only the Lord Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother were without sin. Sin is an offence against God, it ruptures mankind’s communion with God while at the same time damaging the communion that is the Church. (Catechism 1440). No person sins alone. Each person’s sin detrimentally effects his or her neighbour. Because Sin is an offence against God, only God forgives sin, and since he is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority and power to say to the paralytic that his sins are forgiven (Luke 5: 17-26). He has also, in the quotation above, given this authority and power to the Church, acting through its ordained ministers and in his Holy Name, to forgive the sins of those seeking reconciliation and the restoration of the communion with God. The Church therefore instituted the Sacrament of Penance for all those of its members who, since their Baptism, have fallen into a state of grave sin and have lost their baptismal grace and have wounded the body of the Church (Catechism 1446).
As part of the programme on the Sacraments of Initiation, the Parish of the Immaculate Conception offers its young people the opportunity to make their First Confession as a stepping stone to receiving their First Holy Communion. As with the Sacrament of Baptism, above, parents are invited to bring their children to this Sacrament via an application form available from the parish office or website. They and their children will then be required to publically ask for this Sacrament for their child at one of the Sunday Masses and to bring their child to a series of preparation classes held on Saturday mornings from September to December in The John Paul II Centre. If they are not already regular Sunday Mass goers they will be asked to attend one of the weekend Masses so that they and their child may gain the full spiritual benefit from this Sacrament. The children then make their First Confession at the Advent Penance Service. Registration, requesting the sacrament and attendance at the preparation classes are compulsory. There is a small fee, payable on booking, to cover the cost of the book that forms the back-bone of the preparation course.
In keeping with the requirements of the diocese, all the children’s sacramental programme volunteers are DBS checked..
The Church also calls its faithful to frequently receive the graces that come from the Sacrament of Reconciliation; the minimum requirement is at least once a year and if possible close to the great feast of Easter (Catechism 1457).
On a normal Saturday, Rev. Fr. John Batthula or Fr. Linh Nguyen are available to hear confessions between 11.00 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. and between 5.00 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. For the Sacrament of Confession at other times or to request Fr. John to attend to someone who is close to death, parishioners are requested to contact the presbytery.
On a weekday evening during the final week of Advent and of Lent, the Parish of the Immaculate Conception also hosts two penance services when Fr. John is joined by a number of invited visiting priests, usually from The Oxford Oratory or from Blackfriars in Oxford. These take the form of introductory prayers, a reading from scripture and a communal examination of conscience. The priests hearing the confessions then move to various parts of the church to ensure privacy while they hear individual confessions. The congregation are free to whichever priest they wish – the length of the queue is usually a determining factor. After this the penitent is free to leave.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that any priest hearing a confession is not there to condemn or to judge. He sits there in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive sins and to heal a wounded soul. Anything, no matter how grave or serious, told to a priest under the seal of confession, that priest takes with him to his grave. He is not permitted, under any circumstances, even at the peril of his own life or liberty, to divulge what he has heard to anyone; not even through any action on his part to give any indication of what might has been said. He is not permitted even to mention the matter to the person concerned unless that person raises the matter again.