BRILL: New Order of Penance shows God’s divine mercy

April 11, 2023

(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday on April 16, the new Order of Penance will go into effect, replacing the version that has been in use since 1973. The promulgation of the new ritual text on Divine Mercy Sunday is fitting, as it emphasizes the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and God’s Mercy in the life of every Catholic.

The new Order of Penance aims to help us rediscover the beauty and transformative power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is hoped that this new order will have a significant impact on our lives by encouraging priests and all of us to renew our approach to the Sacrament.

As people come to confess their sins and seek God’s forgiveness, the Church hopes for everyone to truly experience the tender mercy of God.
It is fitting that the new Order of Penance will be promulgated on Divine Mercy Sunday, as it reflects the emphasis of Pope Francis on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the life of every Catholic. In his apostolic letter Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis wrote, “The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person” (MV, 12).

What's New?

The prayer of absolution now has three modifications; the revised version given by the priest now reads as follows:

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and poured out [formerly “sent”] the Holy Spirit for [previously “Holy Spirit among us for”] the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God grant [instead of “give”] you pardon and peace.

And I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Beginning on the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, the revised formula for absolution is mandatory.


Divine Mercy Sunday, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 2000, is a day of great significance for Catholics. It is a day when we are reminded of God’s infinite mercy and love for us. It is a day when we are called to reflect on our own lives and to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Having just celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord at Easter, God’s mercy is poured out to us by the saving action of Christ. Thus, the new Order of Penance is a beautiful and timely reminder of God’s mercy and love for us. It reminds us that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. It reminds us that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a powerful and transformative experience that can bring us closer to God and to one another.

The changes to our individual experience of the Sacrament will vary depending on how the priest decides to utilize the resources provided to him. The most noticeable impact for everyone will be the changed words of absolution.

As we prepare to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and the promulgation of the new Order of Penance, let us remember the words of Pope Francis: “May the message of mercy reach everyone and may no one be indifferent to the call to experience mercy” (MV, 12). May we all experience the transformative power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and may it lead us closer to God and to one another. 

Adam Brill is the director of the Office of Worship.