Names of the Sacrament

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are many names for this sacrament: the Sacrament of Penance, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Sacrament of Confession, etc.

In the Eastern Catholic Church, there are many names for this sacrament as well.  The Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, and Melkites– to name a few– call the sacrament “The Mystery of Forgiveness.”  (You will also note that each of these churches are Byzantine).  Other titles for this sacrament include: The Order of Penance, The Ceremony of Forgiveness, The Sacrament of Confession, and Second Baptism.

These names are not regulated and, in many cases, are the result of historical development (for example, you may note that some of the names match those used in the Roman Catholic Church) or theological emphasis (as in the case of the name “Second Baptism”).

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3 Responses to Names of the Sacrament

  1. Barry Clayton says:

    Just to clarify, the names of this sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church according to the Catechism are specifically the sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of Reconciliation, the sacrament of Forgiveness, the sacrament of Confession, and the sacrament of Conversion (CCC, 1422-1424). Thank you.

  2. John Fogliasso says:

    First, sorry for being late with my comment…your e-mail got lost in my in-box and I just found it again.

    Second, piggybacking off of what Barry had to say in the current Code of Canon Law the sacrament is referred to as “Sacramento Paenitentiae” (Canon 959) which is translated as the “Sacrament of Penance”. Also, in Keller’s book we read another name for the Sacrament, “Second Penance”…which is very close to the above listed title, “Second Baptism”. Also, I liked the title that Tertullian and St. Jerome had for it as they called it the plank of salvation, or the second plank after the shipwreck. (Page 15-Keller)

  3. asyring says:

    I find it interesting how names for things evolve over the years. It seems that the names given to something signify a deeper meaning involved. I wonder though, if the multiple names for something actually causes more confusion than clarification. I guess one could argue that there are different ways of describing the same thing. I do wonder though if the sacrament is lost in translation because of the many names it is given.
    I wonder if the Eastern Catholic Church struggles with getting the faithful to celebrate the sacrament. It would appear that if they apply the healing side of the sacrament, more people would want to come, but I do not know if this is the case. Ultimately I suppose there is not as much bearing on the name of something, but rather on the practice of its use.

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