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The Rite of Reconciliation – "Prayer & Dismissal"

My dear friends, I hope and pray that you are all doing well, looking after yourselves, your families, friends, and neighbors.
In our Bishop’s Note we are going through the 2019 BCP and the Rite of Reconciliation.  Last week we examined the actual absolution given by the priest. This week we cover the closing of the Rite of Reconciliation, the optional prayer and the dismissal.

The following prayer may also be said
Let us pray.
O most loving Father, by your mercy you put away the sins of those who truly repent, and remember their sins no more. Restore and renew in your servant whatever has been corrupted by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own selfish will and weakness. Preserve and protect him within the fellowship of the Church; hear his prayers and relieve his pain; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Priest concludes
Go (or abide) in peace, and pray for me, a sinner.

Now the optional prayer in this section may look new to you but this is actually one of the new/old parts of the prayer book. This prayer is a modernized version of a collect at the end of reconciliation that can be found in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It’s one of those things that was removed in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that’s now been restored.
It’s optional but I’d encourage clergy doing reconciliation to pray this prayer. Reconciliation can often seem like a service that’s just a negation, the penitent coming has their sins removed, but this prayer reminds us that we need more than that and this is more than that. On top of having our sins forgiven, we need to ask God to renew us and strengthen us to better follow his will, and to preserve and protect us in our walk with him. It’s not just between us and God though, this prayer makes clear that we’re asking for that preservation and protection within the fellowship of the Church. We as a body of believers should be supporting each other in our relationship with God. Not just in prayer, but also in admonishing sin and in making moral decisions.
Then we get that powerful last line, “Go in peace, and pray for me, a sinner.” Oftentimes people hold their clergy up on a pedestal, and for some this service can seem like the priest reaching down from the pedestal and lifting up the penitent to a closer relationship with God. That’s not the case at all. In this service the priest pronounces absolution, but all of us fall short of the glory of God, ordained clergy and your bishop included. This is a reminder that while the priest can pronounce absolution, he doesn’t celebrate this sacrament looking down on the penitent from above, but side by side with them as someone who is also a sinner. It connects very well with the prayer before this, because the priest in asking for prayers from the penitent is showing that members of the church should support each other in their Christian life. We live our lives as Christians in community, not in isolation.
After you go through this sacrament, I’d encourage you to spend some time praying for your priest and confessor. He is there going through many of the same struggles as you, often times more, and he can’t do it alone. Clergy are in need of reconciliation just as much as laity, and clergy can’t do their ministry unless they have a right relationship with God.
I pray that you will avail yourself to the Rite of Reconciliation. Remember it’s not, “all may, some should, none must,” it’s “all should, and some REALLY should, seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”
I hope all of you in our current Lenten season are able to see God’s mercy and love more and more in your lives! Abide in peace, and pray for me, a sinner.
Bishop Eric

San Joaquin Anglican
April 2
Mass of Chrism (CANCELED)

April 5
Palm Sunday

April 9
Maundy Thursday (Office Closed at Noon)

April 10
Good Friday (Office Closed)

April 12
Easter Sunday

April 19
Bishop @ St. James, Lindsay

April 27-29
Spring Clergy Retreat

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Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin · 1300 East Shaw Avenue #123 · Fresno, CA 93710 · USA

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