“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and his given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation…We entreat you on behalf of Christ – be reconciled to God!” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 20b
The ministry of reconciliation, which has been committed by Christ to his Church, is exercised through the care which each Christian has for one another, through the common prayer of Christians assembled for public worship, and through the priesthood of Christ made manifest by his ministers declaring absolution.
The Reconciliation of a Penitent is available for all who desire it at any time. The traditional “rule” which guides Anglicans in the practice of private Reconciliation is this:
ALL MAY, NONE MUST, SOME SHOULD
That is, the practice of formal, private Reconciliation is a gift and a spiritual tool which is available to assist all believers at any time in accepting and trusting in the forgiveness of God. No one is required to undertake private Reconciliation. God’s forgiveness can never be considered contingent upon anything that we do or do not do. God chooses to forgive human beings. Period. However, there are some who are burdened in their conscience for whom a formal Absolution pronounced by a member of the clergy can be enormously liberating.
Confessions may be heard anytime and anywhere by the clergy of Saint Mary’s. An appointment for Reconciliation can easily be made calling our parish office at 781-3366.
Two equivalent forms of this service are provided in the Book of Common Prayer to meet the needs of penitents. The absolution in these services may be pronounced only by a bishop or presbyter, who are specifically called to this kind of ministry in the name of Christ. Another Christian may be asked to hear a confession at any time, but it must be made clear to the penitent that absolution will not be pronounced; instead, a more general declaration of forgiveness is provided.
When a confession is heard in a church building, the confessor may sit inside the altar rails or in a place set aside to give greater privacy, and the penitent kneels nearby. If preferred, the confessor and penitent may sit face to face for a spiritual conference leading to absolution or a declaration of forgiveness.
When the penitent has confessed all serious sins troubling the conscience and has given evidence of due contrition, the bishop or presbyter gives such counsel and encouragement as are needed and pronounces the absolution. Before giving absolution, the bishop or presbyter may assign to the penitent a psalm, prayer, or hymn to be said, or something to be done, as a sign of penitence and act of thanksgiving.
The content of a confession is not normally a matter of subsequent discussion. The secrecy of a confession is morally absolute for the confessor, and must under no circumstances be broken.
To schedule an appointment for Reconciliation, please call our parish office at 781-3366. All such calls are considered to be confidential and will not be discussed with anyone outside of the clergy.