History of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The History of the Sacrament of Reconciliation started to emerge during the third century (300 CE). It first began as a public and communal celebration linked to Easter. During that time penance would only be received once in a life time. The three sins that were used in the sacrament of reconciliation included Apostasy (giving up your faith), Murder and Adultery. During baptism forgiveness of sins was given. If a person committed a serious crime after having baptism he/she must ask forgiveness from God.

During 400 CE and 1000 CE many changes took place. The Irish Monks developed a private penance and had a book called the ‘Penitential Books’. Penance will be given many times and questions were often asked whether the sacrament of reconciliation would be private or public.

Another part for Sacrament of Reconciliation was created during 1000 CE to mid-20th century. This was called ‘Irish Penance’. This was when a person asking for forgiveness is directed though a journey of change. The guide was known as a spiritual director who helped the person in the journey.

 More recently throughout 1962 to 1965 many more changes occurred. A major group called The Second Vatican Council was formed. The Council changed the sacrament to express the real meaning of it: forgiveness and the mercy of God. This meant that there was less punishment and more repentance. In this time the council created the three rights of reconciliation. These are Individual Confession, Communal Celebration and General Absolution in a Communal Rite of Reconciliation.