The Three Rites of Reconciliation
Within the Sacrament of Reconciliation there are three rites of Reconciliation which all play a role in completing the process of Reconciliation. These rites are ordered the first rite, the second rite and the third rite of Reconciliation. The first rite of Reconciliation is Individual confession, the second rite is a communal celebration and the third rite is general absolution in a communal Rite of Reconciliation.
The First Rite of Reconciliation (Individual Confession):
In this century, we as Christians complete this first Rite of Reconciliation most commonly than any other rite. Many churches today have a Reconciliation Room, where a penitent and a priest are seated and the penitent begins confessing their sins. This is completed in a special process with four key elements. These elements are confession, act of contrition, absolution and penance. In this process the penitent begins confessing their sins, and acknowledging what they have done wrong and wanting to turn back to God. After they say a prayer of contrition which shows acknowledge of their sins the priest then absolves them from their sins. After this is completed the priest then gives the penitent penance which is a prayer or prayers that they have to say in order for their sins to be forgiven. This is the first rite of Reconciliation called individual confession. This is the rite which is now commonly used in the church and is most preferred.
The Second Rite of Reconciliation(Communal Celebration):
Many churches provide opportunities for people to use the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a part of a communal celebration, rather than individually (the first Rite of Reconciliation). If there are communal celebrations, then they are usually held in Lent or Advent as these are the penitential season of the Church year. The celebration begins with a hymn, and a greeting by priest, immediately followed by a prayer expressing forgiveness . There are scripture readings from the Old testament as well as Gospels. After a brief homily and personal reflection time, each person then begins to confess to a priest individually and receives absolution. In this process there is more than one priest going around the church and they all use the same procedure as the First Rite (confession, act of contrition, absolution and penance). After the prayers of penance have been said the priest then says a blessing over the congregation and ends with “Go in peace”. This rite is still practiced although not as commonly as the first Rite of Reconciliation.
The Third Rite of Reconciliation (General Absolution in a Communal Rite of Reconciliation):
This Rite of Reconciliation is only used in some circumstances where there is no opportunity for individual confession such as in war or national emergency’s. This Rite, in some ways is similar to the second Rite, sometimes with hymns, scripture readings and a homily. However in this Rite individuals do not get to go up and speak to the priest individually. Instead of this procedure, the priest gives a general absolution of sins after the community have reflected on their sins, privately and have said a prayer acknowledging their repentance. The people who attend this Rite are expected to have a genuine sorrow for their sins and must want to live a better life in the future. If any penitent needs to confess a very serious sin, then they will be asked to confess it individually.
These are all the Three Rites of Reconciliation (individual confession, communal celebration and general absolution in a communal Rite of Reconciliation) which all portray different ways in which people confess sins and are able to confess sins, not always particularly individually.