The Reconciliation of a Penitent (Confession)

As a sacramental church (a church that experiences God’s grace in particular events and moments) the Episcopal Church offers its members the opportunity for private confession. We call it by a fuller name: the “reconciliation of a penitent”, because confession is one part (our part) of a dialogue with God; God’s healing and giving of the grace of reconciliation are the rest. The rite of reconciliation is thus a time of healing as well as forgiveness; typically, it is an occasion in which the priest offers pastoral counsel to the penitent person. Since we make a “general” confession (said by the congregation together) in Sunday liturgies, many Episcopalians choose not to make a private confession. Others, coming to the Episcopal Church from faith traditions in which confession is “required” or regarded with skepticism, choose not to use this rite. The phrase that best describes our approach to this rite is: “All may, none must, some should.” It is the experience of many who use this rite that it can be a time of remarkable grace and healing. A common practice for Episcopalians who make private confessions is to do so during the seasons which have a particularly penitential tone: Advent (preparation for Christmas) and Lent (preparation for Easter). To schedule this rite, or to make further inquiry, please speak to one of the clergy. (see the Book of Common Prayer, p. 447)