reconciliation
Reconciliation of a Penitent

At All Souls we include a prayer of confession in most all of our services, except during the season of Easter. This custom has been part of the Anglican tradition for centuries. It allows us to pause for a moment and examine our lives and offer to God those things that have separated us from God and one another. A priest pronounces the words of absolution, reminding us that in Christ Jesus we are forgiven. For most people and at most times, this “public confession” or “general confession” is sufficient. One feels freed and unburdened from whatever it is that otherwise distances us from God (aka sin). At other times, sin can be obstinate and may seem to taunt us. Sometimes we feel powerless over particular sins. Other times we may be confused about whether something is in fact, sinful. At these times private counsel with confession and reconciliation, if appropriate, can be a great spiritual help.

You may always contact one of our priests and make an appointment for your confession to be heard, or simply to have an exploratory conversation. Formal confessions follow either Form One (page 447) or Form Two (page 449) in the Book of Common Prayer. These forms do not consist of magic words, but like much of our prayer book, they help us to organize our thoughts and let the Holy Spirit move through us. While a priest is present as a guide and helper, and to offer the sacramental rite, the confession is always made directly to God.

If you have never made a confession with a priest, you might benefit from some preparation. The book and pamphlet in the column to the right are excellent resources. You may also find it helpful to spend some quiet time, simply thinking and praying. Others sometimes find it helpful to write or journal about their spiritual life, particularly if there have been "bumps along the road" that continue to burden or bother.

Through regular confession, we come to realize that sin only becomes stronger when we obsess over it and give it more power than it deserves. By confessing, ridding ourselves of the things that burden us, we move more deeply into the Body of Christ and into the presence of God. With God’s grace, we are brought again and again to the place where the words of the Prayer Book, from the Second Book of Samuel, resonate within us: “The Lord has put away all your sins.”

It is often said
in the Episcopal Church
regarding private confession,
that "all may, some should,
but none must."

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Reconciliation Smith Cover

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