Symbols For The Sacrament Of Reconciliation


Keys. A single key or a pair of keys, usually crisscrossed in the shape of an “X,” occasionally one of top of the other, is the most common symbol for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The symbol originates with Jesus’ words to Peter, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19a), by which Jesus imparted his authority to the Church, and his continuing statement, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19b), by which he established the Sacrament of Reconciliation and gave the Church the authority to forgive sins (see also Jn 20:23).

A Stole. The stole is the primary symbol of the ordained priesthood, and it is the priest in personal Christi, as a representative of Christ, who grants sacramental absolution. A stole is a long, narrow strip of cloth worn over the shoulders which hangs in front in equal lengths on the right and left sides. The stole signifies the priest’s authority to preside over the sacraments in general, and his authority to absolve sins in particular. When a priest hears confessions, he wears a purple stole which symbolizes repentance and sorrow.

A Raised Hand. During the Rite of Reconciliation, after the penitent makes the Act of Contrition, the priests offers the Prayer of Absolution, the blessing that removes the person’s sins, and as he does so he extends his right hand over the penitent’s head.

The Cross. The priest makes a Sign of the Cross over the penitent as he recites the final words of the Prayer of Absolution, “And I absolve you from you sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body upon the Cross” (1 Pt 2:24a). Jesus has reconciled all things through himself, and he has made peace by the blood of his Cross (Col 1:20).


A Scourging Whip. Before Jesus, our Suffering Servant, was crucified, he was scourged at the pillar. “He was crushed for our sins, by his stripes we were healed; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear; he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses” (Is 53:5,11,12). The apostle Peter reflected, “By his [Jesus’] wounds we were healed” (1 Pt 2:24b).

Reconciliation times:
Wednesday evenings
7:00-8:00 p.m. in the Chapel
Saturday afternoons
4:00-5:00 p.m. in the Chapel

> Special Reconciliation times

An Overview of the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

How to Go to Confession
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The Penance Assigned by the Priest
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Various Forms of the Act of Contrition >Read More

The Symbols of Reconciliation
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