An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Prayer in which we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives (BCP, p. 857). The Prayer Book Catechism identifies penitence as one of the seven principal kinds of prayer (p. 856). In the sacramental rite of Reconciliation of a Penitent, those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution (p. 861). The BCP provides two forms for the Reconciliation of a Penitent (pp. 447-452). The season of Lent is a penitential season of preparation for the Easter celebration of Jesus' resurrection. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. At the Ash Wednesday service, the celebrant invites the people to the observance of a holy Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word” (pp. 264-265). The Ash Wednesday service includes a Litany of Penitence (pp. 267-269). Many Prayer Book liturgies also include a confession of sin. The confession of sin and absolution follow the prayers of the people and precede the peace at the eucharist (BCP, pp. 331, 360). Another option is for the eucharist to begin with a Penitential Order (pp. 319-321, 351-353). The Penitential Order includes an acclamation and the confession of sin and absolution. It may also include the decalogue and one or more appropriate sentences of scripture. Compline includes a confession of sin and prayer for absolution (BCP, pp. 127-128). Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer may include a confession of sin and absolution (pp. 41-42, 62-63, 79-80, 116-117).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.