The church building is the proper place for the celebration of the sacraments and rites of the Church. A number of those occur in our church on a regular basis and make demands on the use of the liturgical space. The sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is no different.
Canon Law requires that a space be prepared in each church for the celebration of Reconciliation. In some churches, the old confessionals of the past still exist. Nowadays, our renewed understanding of the sacrament means the space should be a proper chapel. Chairs should be provided for the priest and the penitent, and a screen and kneeler should still be made available for those who wish it. It should be an open, welcoming, safe and reassuring space.
The placement of the chapel is also an important consideration. A reconciliation chapel placed near the baptismal font reminds us that we were washed free from sin at baptism, and that the sacrament of penance restores this. There should also be a connection between the reconciliation chapel and the space where the eucharist is celebrated. As we are reminded in the gospels, those of us who are not at peace should leave our “gift at the altar… be reconciled… and then come and offer [our] gift” (Matthew 5:24). Both placement considerations can be easily accommodated when the chapel and the baptistery are placed at the threshold to the main body of the church.
Our church has at least three reconciliation chapels over the course of time. Each one has proven unsuitable for different reasons. Given contemporary considerations, and the desire to provide a proper place for the celebration of the sacrament, we wish to accommodate within a renovated church a new chapel of reconciliation.
Don’t forget that your comments on the recommendations are welcome. You can speak to Frs. Denis or Paul, to any other member of the Liturgy Committee, email us at litcomwenty (at) yahoo (dot) com (dot) au or comment below