Liturgy Spots: Individual Reconciliation, Year of Luke - 28th February, 2016


Some people come to individual reconciliation and still begin by saying: “Bless me Father for I have sinned”. In movies or on TV this is also how “Confession” is sometimes portrayed, with penitents kneeling behind a screen in a dark confessional box.

The celebration of the sacrament of penance was revised after Vatican II so that it would better reflect the positive nature of this encounter with Christ.

The individual rite may be celebrated face-to-face or anonymously. It begins with the priest warmly welcoming the penitent and inviting them to have trust in God. Either the penitent or the priest reads a passage of scripture.

After this, the priest helps the penitent to confess his or her sins and offers suitable counsel. The priest proposes an act of penance which, as far as possible, corresponds to the seriousness and nature of the sin. It may take the form of prayer, self-denial or works of mercy.

Then the priest asks the penitent to express sorrow for sin using one of several prayers given in the rite or in a similar form of words. The priest extends his hands over the penitent's head and says the words of absolution.

Finally there is a proclamation of praise for God’s mercy followed by the dismissal: “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.”

Liturgy Brisbane publishes a brochure Individual Reconciliation to help people prepare for and celebrate this sacrament in a meaningful way. See for details.


2016 is Year C of the 3-year cycle of Sunday readings. The Gospel reading for every Sunday in Ordinary Time will come from Luke.

Luke was a highly educated writer and gifted storyteller. He was not an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus but drew on Mark’s gospel and a number of other sources to write his account. Luke’s gospel describes Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, a journey that leads towards suffering and glory.

Luke gives us parables and stories that are not found in other Gospels – the woman who seeks the lost coin, the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the rich man and Lazarus, and the good Samaritan.

Throughout Luke, we find Jesus forgiving sinners before they have repented. This is most evident in the story of Zacchaeus where Jesus invites himself to the tax collector’s house and, only once he has arrived, does Zacchaeus promise to give half of what he owns to the poor.

Whereas in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (6.48), in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, Jesus says, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (6.36).

How appropriate it is that Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus is frequently shown ministering to people on the fringes of society and which emphases God’s mercy will be read during this year which has been proclaimed a Holy Year of Mercy.

PS Is anyone out there actually using these "Liturgy Spots" in bulletins, handouts, whatever? Let me know if you are -



Elizabeth Harrington