Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation for Children
Congratulations to all our 2019-2020 students who received their First Penance earlier in the school year.
And happy blessings to most of our students who received Jesus for the first time in one of several Masses over the Father’s Day weekend! Each of the four First Holy Communion Masses was a joyous event for our students and their families.
Per Diocesan guidelines, Sacred Heart has a two year program in place for children to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The next available opportunity for children not yet 18 to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation will be our 2020-2021 classes, in either the 2nd Year Holy Communion, Communion Preparation, or Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC) class. Our registration process has begun for the 2020-2021 school year; if your child has already attended a 1st year Holy Communion class, then they should register for our 2nd Year Holy Communion class that will be conducted in person this year. Classes are held on either Sunday afternoons 3:45-5:15pm or Tuesday evenings 5:30-7:00pm. If your child has not previously attended a 1st year Holy Communion class, then this is the class they should attend for the 2020-2021 school year which will be conducted virtually.
Please contact Mrs. Julia Carty at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you may have or to ensure your child is registered for the upcoming class year. And rest assured, in person classes will be conducting with social distancing protocols, temperature readings prior to cild entering the building, cleaning desks/tables both before and after classes, required mask usage in the building except when children are all safely sitting in their assigned space with participants 6 or more feet apart.
The Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) is one of the two Sacraments of healing, the other is Anointing of the Sick. Penance allows for spiritual healing and maintaining a healthy relationship with God. At Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, receiving the Sacrament of Penance is incorporated into our two-year first holy Communion program, with the sacrament received before Advent in their second year. Receiving the sacrament is a special time for our children and as parents, and it’s your primary responsibility to help prepare them for this soul-redeeming Sacrament. We teach the following concepts but here are simple ways you can help your child prepare for their first reconciliation.
1. Talk about the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) Together
Before your child receives the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation), it’s important they understand what it is and why we do it. Spend time talking with your child about this great healing Sacrament.
Read together with your child about when Jesus instituted the Sacrament and gave his apostles the authority to forgive sins in His Name in the Gospel of John 20: 19 – 23. The Healing of a Paralytic in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 2: 1 – 12, is also a good example of Jesus’s authority to forgive sins and an example of faith and trust in His healing power.
Explain to your children that going to Confession is not about getting into trouble; it’s about asking God for forgiveness and receiving God’s Grace to do better. Listen to your child’s questions and encourage them to learn more by asking more questions.
2. Examination of Conscience
Teach your child how to pray an Examination of Conscience each night before bed, or as often as time allows. Some families do this together as a family before bed, silently reflecting on their days while mom or dad read the Examination out loud.
There are many great examinations around. Try and find one that your child will understand. This Examination of Conscience for Children Using the Lord’s Prayer is very simple yet prods children to think more about their actions. There is also a good one based on the Ten Commandments and one for the Beatitudes.
Practice, practice, practice! Like with any sport, musical instrument, or other skill – continuous practice is essential. The same is true for preparation for all the Sacraments. We will practice with children in the classroom and take “field trips” up to church to see the confessionals where they will sit as well as the priest. The National Catholic Register has a nice and easy Confession Guide for Children that goes through a simple Examination of Conscience followed by the steps involved in a confession.
As your child’s first reconciliation approaches, take time to role play with them what they will do in their real confessions. Except, you can tell them they don’t have to really tell you their sins – unless of course they really want to.
4. Go to Confession as a Family
Aside from practicing how to go to confession with your child, practice actually going to confession as a family. As parents, we are the first educators for our children when it comes to our Faith. However, the best way to really teach our children about the Faith is to practice it by living it out in our every day life. Showing your child that you can take the time to go to confession makes a deeper and longer-lasting impression than all the hours you might spend talking or reading about it with them.
Maybe even make it a family tradition, say on the first Wednesday of each month or another day that works for your family. If you cannot make it during the time of regularly scheduled confessions in your parish, try a different parish nearby or ask your pastor if you can schedule a regular family confession time.
5. Pray Together
Aside from all the talking, reading, and practicing, the most essential step in preparing your child – and yourself – for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is prayer. Through prayer, we join in an intimate conversation with God. We ask Him to open our hearts to Him, show Him our weaknesses, and ask for His infinitely merciful forgiveness. Pray with and for your child, asking God to prepare him or her for this great Sacrament.
Together, you can pray the Act of Contrition with your child and also the Prayer to Your Guardian Angel to help them make good choices and be ready to receive God’s mercy.