Let’s delve into the instructions on form I, the “Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents.”
Section 15 describes briefly the “PREPARATION OF PRIEST AND PENITENT”
15. Priest and penitents should prepare themselves above all by prayer to celebrate the sacrament. The priest should call upon the Holy Spirit so that he may receive enlightenment and charity; the penitents should compare their own life with the example and commandments of Christ and then pray to God for the forgiveness of their sins.
I like lots of prayer–usually I celebrate form I when on retreat.
The confessor has some of the burden of a welcome ritual. A penitent confessing to a priest who doesn’t know her or him is given some advice:
WELCOMING THE PENITENT
16. The priest should welcome penitents with fraternal charity and, if need be, address them with friendly words. The penitent then makes the sign of the cross, saying: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The priest may also make the sign of the cross with the penitent. Next the priest briefly urges the penitent to have confidence in God. Penitents who are unknown to the priest are advised to inform him of their state in life, the time of their last confession, their difficulties in leading the Christian life, and anything else that may help the confessor in the exercise of his ministry.
READING OF THE WORD OF GOD
17. Next, the occasion may be taken for the priest, or even the penitent, to read a text of holy Scripture, or this may be done as part of the preparation for the actual celebration of the sacrament. For through the word of God Christians receive light to recognize their sins and are called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy.
The Word of God “may” be proclaimed. It’s interesting that Scripture is seen as a way to examine the conscience. Also note the two mentions of the word “confidence.” For any readers who may have had difficulty with this sacrament, what would you suggest a confessor do to inspire confidence?
Any other comments?