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The priest ended my confession with this prayer and wow! It’s so beautiful!

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It's worthwhile to take time to pray with and about the prayers of the Church, to learn to appreciate them anew.

At the end of my confession the other day, Father said a prayer that I don’t recall ever hearing before.

I left the confessional wondering if it was some section of the absolution that I’d never noticed. (The formula for absolution consists of the words that bring about the forgiveness — absolving — of my sins and leave my soul baptism-white again. To save time and keep the confession line moving, many priests will say those words at the same time that the penitent is making the Act of Contrition; I thought maybe I’d just never really heard them before.)

As it turns out, though, the prayer he prayed over me is one of the forms of dismissal for the Sacrament:

May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, whatever good you do and suffering you endure, heal your sins, help you to grow in holiness, and reward you with eternal life. Go in peace.

Father paused and emphasized each of those words “suffering you endure.” And it was so comforting to hear it and to know that the trials I’m facing, even as they’re partly of my own making, can help to heal my sins.

That prayer offered us by the Church is almost a summary of how our salvation comes about.

We know Jesus is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (who takes away my sin).

The Catechism explains in paragraph 615 and following:

By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin,” when “he bore the sin of many,” and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous,” for “he shall bear their iniquities.” Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.

And we are invited to participate in all that.

The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, but because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.

That’s why Father could pray that the sufferings I’m enduring would heal my sins. And that brings hope and perspective — it helps us to see that suffering, while we can’t escape it, can be imbued with purpose and meaning.

It’s worthwhile to take time to pray with and about the prayers of the Church, and not become so accustomed to them that we’re tuned out as they are said. Here are the words of Absolution and the five options for the Dismissal:

ABSOLUTION

Then the priest extends his hands over the penitent’s head (or at least extends his right hand) and says:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

The penitent answers: Amen.


PROCLAMATION OF PRAISE OF GOD AND DISMISSAL

After the absolution, the priest continues:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. The penitent concludes: His mercy endures for ever.

Then the priest dismisses the penitent who has been reconciled, saying:

The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.

Or:

May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, whatever good you do and suffering you endure, heal your sins, help you to grow in holiness, and reward you with eternal life. Go in peace.

Or:

The Lord has freed you from sin. May he bring you safely to his kingdom in heaven. Glory to him for ever. W. Amen.

Or:

Blessed are those whose sins have been forgiven, whose evil deeds have been forgotten. Rejoice in the Lord, and go in peace.

Or:

Go in peace, and proclaim to the world the wonderful works of God who has brought you salvation.


LEARN MORE:

Paragraphs 606-618 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church explain Christ’s offering for our sins. Read them here.

 

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