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The Sacrament of Reconciliation as Corporate Ritual.

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The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is not merely a time for spiritual direction (as wholesome as that is), or a time for seeking moral guidance (as necessary as that may be at times). Reconciliation is primarily a sacrament—a corporate act of worship which builds up the Body of Christ. . .

. . . Communal celebrations show more clearly that Reconciliation is a sacrament, a corporate act of worship. When we celebrate together as a parish family, we are reminded of the social nature of sin—that every sin, even the most private and personal sin, has implications for the larger community. In addition, when we celebrate Reconciliation with others, we are more clearly reminded of our obligation to "forgive those who trespass against us" even as we ask God to forgive us our trespasses.

Interpersonal forgiveness and reconciliation are part of the hoped-for outcomes of this sacrament. Christianity stresses the relation of the "horizontal" and the "vertical"—interpersonal forgiveness and divine forgiveness. "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Mt 5:23-24).
Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D. from Catholic Update.

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