The Sacrament of Reconciliation | Confession

At Saint Mark's a priest is available every Saturday morning at 9:30 to hear confessions in the Lady Chapel.  Mass follows at 10 am.  We no longer have confessionals here, and generally the penitent kneels at the altar rail, and the priest sits just inside the rail.  The clergy are available to hear confessions at other times, by appointment.

Detail from the reredos of St. John's Altar

Detail from the reredos of St. John's Altar

Many people are reluctant to make their confession face to face with a priest, or are skeptical about the value of doing so.  It’s easy to suspect that the whole point of the exercise is to make someone feel guilty – but nothing could be further from the truth.  The point of the exercise is to help free a person from the weight of sin and fear, which can so easily govern our lives.  The role of the priest is to insist on the declaration of God’s forgiveness (as long as the confession is made in good faith), not to sit in judgment of the penitent.  Ideally, a penitent leaves confession feeling refreshed and buoyed by God’s grace and mercy. 

"Repentance is the response we are called to make as we meet Christ in the place where we have been brought to a halt, and sense his insistence that we reorient ourselves towards God. ... Why are you coming to a halting place in your relationship with God? …  

  • Guilt about past is felt as a burden too heavy to go on bearing ...
  • Some people have just emerged battered and bruised after a difficult stretch of life ...healing has to take place—one aspect of which involves taking responsibility for the sins they have committed during the struggle. ...
  • Some forthcoming trial makes them see life in a new light and take stock of how they have lived. ..
  • Those in transition from one stage of life to another ... to make the passage from one stage to another, they need to make a closure ...
  • To take up a journey again after having abandoned it years before ...
  • A dead end which forces them to recognize that the direction they have been following leads away from life and relationship with God.
  • Those who experience a conversion or spiritual awakening ...

God can call us to repentance in an endless variety of ways.”
(from Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church, Martin Smith, SSJE, Cowley Publications, 1985)

"The ministry of reconciliation, which has been committed by Christ to his 
Church, is exercised through the care each Christian has for others, through the common prayer of Christians assembled for public worship, and through the priesthood of Christ and his ministers declaring absolution.

The Reconciliation of a Penitent is available for all who desire it. It is not 
restricted to times of sickness.  Confessions may be heard anytime and 

When the penitent has confessed all serious sins troubling the conscience 
and has given evidence of due contrition, the priest gives such counsel 
and encouragement as are needed and pronounces the absolution.  Before 
giving absolution, the priest may assign to the penitent a psalm, prayer, 
or hymn to be said, or something to be done, as a sign of penitence and 
act of thanksgiving.

The content of a confession is not normally a matter of subsequent discussion.  The secrecy of a confession is morally absolute for the confessor, and must under no circumstances be broken."  (BCP 1979, p 446)


The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen.

A Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester

Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.  Most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.