For Parents To Teach To Their Children
Stress-free Practice Is Essential for a Calm First Confession
Having raised sons to adulthood, I look differently at seven and eight–year-olds than a parent who is raising them. I see them as little kids! I remember thinking the life stages and events were far more serious than in fact they were. First Reconciliation is a big, serious event. We want the children to appreciate and respect that, but not to have fear or worry about their first confession. It is daunting even for adults making a first reconciliation, and with good reason–we’ve been around longer! Children need support, education, practice, and calm parents. Model for them going to Mass; receiving Communion; going to confession; and teach them how to cross themselves; and how to genuflect (not necessary for First Confession). It is not easy for many young children to genuflect. The coordination of “right knee down; left knee up” is challenging. It’s going to require some growing, but they’ll figure it out by imitating you. “Practice makes perfect” is a great slogan, but we aren’t going for perfection here. We want this to be a loving, positive experience, including practice at home. If you have an enthusiastic child, they will enjoy the time. A reluctant or anxious child needs some positive encouragement and support. Here are key actions for teaching a child anything: Model the behavior; Encourage the child to imitate; Reward with positive language and hugs; Keep practice sessions short–ten minutes a time is fine; Practice a couple of times a week. If you are comfortable with the idea of practicing with outlandish “sins” such as, robbing a bank, kids do learn well through play. If your child is in a CCD class, the power of the peer group will help your child a lot. They’ll watch others and follow. Remind your child that this is not a test or a competition. First Reconciliation is a special moment in their growing relationship with God.
Our Art Gallery
Learning the Liturgical Colors
Our Reading–“Ambition of James and John”
USCCB.org Mk 10:35-45
“The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?’
They answered him, ‘Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.’
Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’
They said to him, ‘We can.’
Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.’
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”
“Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
Excerpts From “Follow Your Conscience” From Blessed First Reconciliation, Dynamic Catholic, Pages 58-59
Blessings from God:
“Life is the greatest blessing.”
“Free will is another fabulous blessing.”
“Both come with great responsibility.”
“God has also blessed you with a conscience.”
“Conscience is the gentle voice inside you that encourages you to do good and avoid evil.”
“God speaks to us through our conscience.”
“Following our conscience makes us happy.”
“Ignoring our conscience makes us restless and unhappy.”
“Follow your conscience. You will never regret it.”
The Examination of Conscience
From USCCB.org “Let Children Come: The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Children”
“Responsibilities to God:
Have I prayed every day?
Have I prayed my morning prayers and night prayers?
Have I prayed with my parents and family?
Have I been moody and rebellious about praying and going to church on Sunday?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I have been tempted to sin?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me do what is right?”
“Responsibilities to others:
Have I been obedient and respectful to my parents?
Have I lied or been deceitful to them or to others?
Have I been arrogant, stubborn or rebellious?
Have I talked back to parents, teachers or other adults?
Have I pouted and been moody?
Have I been selfish toward my parents, brothers, and sisters,
teachers, or my friends and schoolmates?
Have I gotten angry at them? Have I hit anyone?
Have I held grudges or not forgiven others?
Have I treated other children with respect or have I made fun of them and called them names?
Have I used bad language?
Have I stolen anything? Have I returned it?
Have I performed my responsibilities, such as homework and household chores?
Have I been helpful and affectionate toward my family?
Have I been kind and generous with my friends?”
Learning About Reconciliation
“The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation has four parts: contrition, confession, act of penance, and absolution.”
Source: Believe Celebrate Live First Reconciliation page 62
For Children who will be making a First Reconciliation:
To Make The Sign of the Cross:
There are many books for First Reconciliation for children on Amazon.com and other sources. I used several books as references for this post.
Pages 4 and 5 at the beginning of the text, Believe Celebrate Live First Reconciliation show the different places a priest might hear confession: at a table with two chairs in the church; face to face with the priest in the sanctuary, in a confessional with the screen; in a confessional face to face; or seated side by side in a pew in the church. It’s very helpful for children to visit the church to visualize all of these locations and perhaps try them out, if possible. A tour of the church and the confessionals will help ease children’s fears or anxiety. This was a Sunday School highlight for last year’s children receiving First Reconciliation. Practice at home, with a family member reading the priest’s role and the children making up possible “sins” to confess. They need to hear, from their parents, that their sins are private and only the priest will hear the “real” ones.
A Reading for Parents and Children
“Celebrating the Sacrament of and Reconciliation” from Believe Celebrate Live Reconciliation by Sadlier Sacrament Program pages, 62-64, explains what happens when a child celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation face to face with a priest:
“The priest welcomes you, and you both make the sign of the cross.
You listen as the priest shares a Bible story about God’s forgiveness.
You confess your sins to the priest.
You and the priest talk about making right choices.
The priest gives a penance to you. You will do your penance after the celebration of the sacrament.
You pray an act of contrition. You tell God you are sorry for your sins and that you will try to not sin again.
You receive absolution. The priest stretches his right hand over your head and says the words of absolution. (Say, “Amen.”)
In God’s name your sins are forgiven by the priest.
You and the priest praise and thank God for his love and forgiveness.
The priest tells you, ‘Go in peace.’”
The Words of Absolution from Our Life With Jesus, Faith and Life Series 3, on page 71,
Here’s what the priest says:
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God 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.”
“When we hear the words of absolution, we know that Jesus Himself is forgiving us through the priest. He says, “I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We accept the absolution by answering, ‘Amen.’”
Practice “An Act of Contrition” out loud, so that it is very familiar, and fluent.
God’s Gift to Us Through Reconciliation
For An Excellent Explanation of Reconciliation and Confession for Children:
“Sacrament of Reconciliation”
“Tips on Helping Children With First Reconciliation”
catholicmom.com offers these suggestions:
“Practice Out Loud — ‘The Glory Be,’ ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ and ‘Hail Mary’
Parents: There are helpful “Confession Guides” for children and parents on the Internet.”
“5 Ways to Prepare Your Child for First Reconciliation” from catholicmom.com
1. “Talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation Together”
2. “Examination of Conscience”
4. “Go to Confession as a Family”
5. “Pray Together”
Learning about Confession through Play
Lacy, creator of Catholic Icing, artist, and mother of four children, has great ideas about helping children become comfortable with first confession. I recommend a look at her website for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion craft and learning activities for children–Super creative and fun!
Our Art Project–First Reconciliation
This drawing, contains the priest’s stole for confession, a cross, and the color purple for penance. It was done in tempera sticks (Kwik Styx) for the stole, and the cross painted in gold and silver metallic acrylic paints with a small brush. The background is silver metallic paint.
Suggested Homework Activities–Week Eight
“Help your child to appreciate and treasure the gift of God’s forgiveness.”
Talk to your child about the treasures of reconciliation. Have them write down, in any style they wish, the gifts they will be receiving.