Reconciliation Service

The telling of the story of the prodigal Luke 15:1-3 11-32 reminds us of the seasonal call to return home to the Lord through the grace of the sacrament of reconciliation. Home is where we belong. When we are not at home with ourselves we are often not at home with our God. Lent can often be the beginning of that journey to a place of welcome and forgiveness.

Whether you are organising a service in the church or in a smaller prayer space or oratory it is important to make the place you gather as comfortable, warm and inviting as possible. In a church with pews, encourage people to sit together towards the front of the church. If in a room or hall, try a circle of chairs. Also arrange for someone to welcome people as they arrive.

 Focal point
Some people find a sacred space with a candle, cross or other symbolic image can be useful as a focus during a service. For a reconciliation service, a copy of Rembrandt’s “Prodigal Son” can be helpful.

Candles and low-level lighting can help create a calm atmosphere, while instrumental music can also help to relax people. Some suggestions for music are included.

 Gathering Song – Take Me Home by David Haas
The celebrant welcomes people and invites them to reflect on their desire for reconciliation with God and their neighbour. Graphic – open hands

We gather today in a spirit of repentance,
We gather with confidence in you

We reflect upon our actions in the world,
We reflect upon our relationships with others

 We walk the road of reconciliation with each other
We walk the road of the prodigal with heavy hearts

We trust in your mercy and forgiveness
We trust in your gracious love and acceptance

Liturgy of the Word
Graphic – Open Book
Celebrant: During Lent, God continually reminds us that he is a loving God who longs for us to return to him.
Luke 15: 1-3; 11-32 – The Story of the Prodigal


 Q. What was significant in the reading for you?
Q. What message is God giving us for Lent, and for the rest of our lives?

 If people would be comfortable, invite them to speak quietly in 2/3’s about what they found helpful in the reading.

 Examination of conscience

 Celebrant: We take a few moments now to reflect on how and when we have turned away from God.

 Reader 1. When we have chosen to think of ourselves, rather than others.
All: Lord have mercy

Reader 2. When appearance has mattered more than who we are.
Christ have mercy

Reader 1.When we have neglected the call to work for justice
Lord have mercy

Reader 2. When we have taken what we wanted, rather than what we needed
Christ have mercy

Reader 1. When we have spoken ill of others, and ignored their goodness
Lord have mercy

Reader 2.When we have seen wrong done but failed to speak out
Christ have mercy

Reader 1. When we have allowed a world to exist where people are hungry, homeless and afraid.
Lord have mercy

Reader 2. When we have ignored you and your word.
Christ have mercy

Merciful God,
We ask your forgiveness
For the times we have failed to follow you
Or listen to your word.
Be with us as we strive to do better,
And become more aware of the needs of others
And your voice in our lives.

Rite of reconciliation
An opportunity for individual confession and absolution should be made possible by the presence of a reasonable number of priests.
People can be invited to write out their regrets on a piece of paper and as they move forward or as they leave the priest after confession they might place this in a box nearby and the contents burnt in a fire later. People might also be invited to light a candle or be given a prayer card with the Rembrandt Prodigal image on it.
While people are waiting, quiet music may be played to help reflection and to help with the confidentiality of the confessions.
Sending out

Graphic – sign post pointing right

Celebrant: As we thank God for his forgiveness and return to our lives, we reflect on the needs of others in the wider world.

Read the story of Mahlet (from the Trócaire box) . Other stories available from Trócaire.

 Invite people to think about how they can respond to the needs of others. Remind people of Trócaire’s Lenten Appeal and have Trócaire boxes available. 

 Prayer for All

Finally, invite people to join in the prayer of St Francis, recognising our solidarity with the world.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let us sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,

Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is sadness, joy,
Oh divine Master,
Grant that we may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 Celebrant ends with a blessing.

 We ask God’s blessing on us all as we leave this place.
May God give us
The ability to forgive, as we have been forgiven,
The ability to share, that we may have enough,
And the ability to love, that we may know joy
In the name of God, Father, Son and Spirit, who loves us, forgives us and provide for us.
ALL: Amen.

Closing Song: Christ Be Our Light by Bernadette Farrell.