This service is based on the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) which is a story about sensitivity and outreach leading to reconciliation and restoration. All aspects of this sacramental service would ideally reflect these values and ideals. Please adapt for your particular situation.

The usual church means of communication can be used to draw people’s attention to this Lenten event such as notices and newsletter. Consider doing some kind of invitation card or email with an image inspired by the Gospel story which can be distributed to all homes or randomly in the street or at a shopping centre. The good shepherd went out of his way to look for the lost one. In that spirit think ‘outside the box’ in getting in touch with people.

Creating the Space:

  • The space itself could be as simple as a large purple cloth spread out; ruffled and raised to make it imperfect. This would be placed in a prominent position: front of the ambo or Altar or other place that is easily see. Footprints in Black, Grey and White, possibly in a circular shape or interwoven could be placed throughout the reconciliation space (to be adapted as appropriate.)
  • Added to this might be a backpack. Protruding from the back pack could be words, large enough to be seen, that indicate how we disappoint God.
  • It might also be an idea to place some worn shoes around the space and then a pair of brand new ones more centrally in the space.
  • A decorated bin, a mirror, a bowl of burning charcoal, a bowl of incense, a book of the gospels and the paschal candle are also suggested items for the space.
  • Those involved in welcome will give each person a sealed letter or rolled scroll on arrival. On this is a list of general faults that we might all subscribe to. During the examination of conscience these are opened and parishioners reflect on the faults that apply to them.
  • Just before confession begins volunteers take from the sacred space the mirror, bin, charcoal and incense, book of the Gospels and candle.
  • On the way to confession each parishioner looks in the mirror. On the way back they tear up the faults list and drop it in the bin. They then take a small amount of incense and drop it on the charcoal. They then move on and touch the book of the Gospels and finally receive a candle lit from the paschal candle.

Lighting should be as subdued as possible while keeping in mind health and safety concerns. Some quiet music could be sung or played in order to induce an air of quiet reflection. This music could be repeated while the assembly are going forward for individual  confession.

Greeters will welcome and provide leaflets and direction as required upon entering the church. They will also give out an examination of conscience suggestion in the form of a prayer card or bookmark that can be used during the service if required or can be taken away to be used privately. On the reverse side of this would be printed a scripture verse eg. “I give you my peace” or “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

A commentary could be provided, by somebody other than the Presider, to facilitate ease of movement through the ceremony and the use of the symbols suggested

 Gathering Song
Come Worship the Lord (John Michael Talbot).
God is here (David Haas)
Shepherd me, O God: Marty Haugen.
Faithful is the Lord (Liam Lawton)
We are God’s people (David Haas)

 Opening Prayer                      Let us pray,
God of tenderness and love,
You have called us home where you await us with open arms.
Lift us up on your shoulders and carry us on this stage of our  journey of reconciliation.
Give us the courage to embrace your gift of mercy and forgiveness.
We ask this in the Spirit, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Responsorial Psalms
The Cry of the Poor (John Foley)
Valleys of Green (Dan Schutte)
The Lord will heal the broken heart: (Liam Lawton)
We are God’s people (David Hass)

Gospel                                   Luke 15:3-7
  ‘The tax collectors and the sinners, meanwhile, were all seeking his  company to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. “This man” they said “welcomes sinners and  eats with them”. So he spoke this parable to them: “What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he  found it? And when he found it would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then when he got home, call together his friends and  neighbours?” “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost”. “In the same way, I tell you there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance”’.


Reflection  Christ carries the sheep over his shoulders to protect the sheep from the wolves. However the wolf may still attack and Christ is the one who suffers.
Christ is like the dance teacher who notices the student not picking up the routine and a little out of step with everyone else. He leaves the others and spends time with the ‘lost’  one and brings him then back into group. Reconciliation is  always about returning to the community

 Examination of Conscience   Are you lost?  Why?  Quite often when we feel lost we are ashamed;
ashamed of what we have done or ashamed of what we didn’t do.
Our sense of shame and being lost prevents us from turning to God.
Take heart!  God is near.  God seeks us out and finds us and when  he finds us, he rejoices.

The Lord will heal the broken heart.
God will seek the lost and find them.

I am sorry……….
for the times I avoid my responsibility to care for others and ignore their cries for help.
for the times I give in to feelings of jealousy and allow them to rule my words and actions.
for the times I give in to feelings of  fear and choose not to speak out against injustice.

The Lord will heal the broken heart.
God will seek the lost and find them.

I am sorry…………
for the times I judge myself and others harshly.
for the times I feel lost and turn away from you.
for the times I allow my shame to block your love, O, Lord.

The Lord will heal the broken heart.
God will seek the lost and find them.

 I am sorry
for the times I did not recognize the need for healing
for the times I failed to seek repentance
for the times I caused pain and hurt to myself and others

The Lord will heal the broken heart.
God will seek the lost and find them

Act of Sorrow
O my God, I thank you for loving me,
I am sorry for all my sins,
for not loving others and not loving you.
Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again. Amen

Reflective songs during individual confessions
Create in me (John Michael Talbot)
Only in God (John Michael Talbot)
Song of Hosea (Gregory Norbert)
You Are Mine (Marty Haugen)
Amazing Grace (Spiritual)
Jesus Remember Me (Taizé)

 Concluding  Prayer

 All say:           Lord, we thank you for the gift of your forgiveness that lightens our step and lifts the burden of guilt from our shoulders
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your forgiveness that now enables us to open our hearts to others in a spirit of reconciliation.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your forgiveness that encourages us to walk your path of truth and justice.

 Recessional Songs
Siyahamba/ We are marching (South African Song)
In the Lord I‘ll be ever thankful (Taizé)
O Happy Day (John Rees)

During the Recessional Song people can be led to a place where refreshments are served