The Sacrament of Reconciliation is commonly referred to as “Confession”. It was formerly known as the Sacrament of Penance and is also still commonly referred to as a child’s First Confession. It is the rite by which sins are confessed and forgiven. Any person who has been baptised and prepared appropriately can celebrate this sacrament.
This Sacrament relates to God’s merciful love and our faith in God who welcomes the repentant sinner. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a person admits to any wrongs they have done and is forgiven by God through the Priest. This Sacrament is celebrated in preparation for First Holy Communion.
The emphasis in preparing children for this sacrament is based on asking the children to reflect on times when they did not live as Jesus asked them. The children may, for example, draw a picture of a time when they did not show love for others. This picture is sometimes used by the child as a prompt to talk to the priest while they are receiving the sacrament.
To receive their First Communion, children must first receive the grace of forgiveness and repentance and therefore most children will undertake the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometime in the weeks prior to their First Holy Communion.
In this sacrament people are forgiven their sins by the words and actions of the priest. We call this ‘Absolution’. The priest represents God and the community who is affected by sin and the priest administers forgiveness on behalf of God and the community. Sin is failure to recognise and love God in the way we think or act. Sin is also not just a failure to love God directly but also a failure to love one another. This is referred to as “the community sense of sin”.
Penance is a sign of sorrow and a commitment to try to make amends. It is also a sign of our sincerity to change our lives. This is what is meant by conversion. When the Sacrament is a communal celebration, the penance is said as a community, once all have had the opportunity to confess. When celebrated in the traditional one-to-one form, a penance is given, and the person takes on that penance privately.
Parental Preparation for First Penance:
The preparation of children for the reception of the Sacrament is a shared undertaking by parents, school and parish. By means of this co-operation parents are assisted in fulfilling the responsibility of training their children in the practice of the faith, first under-taken when they presented their children for baptism. The parish with the co-operation of parents and teachers follow set liturgical programmes for all the Sacraments.
Take a moment during these days of preparation to consider your own attitude to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It may be some time since you experienced the sacrament. How would you respond if you were invited to celebrate the sacrament with your child? What would it mean to your child if their parents were also experiencing God’s love and forgiveness?
The specialized programme for First Communion named ‘Do this in Memory of Me’ consists of six/seven Sunday Masses.
Children Preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation are expected to practice the following prayers:
Act of Sorrow:
O my God, I thank you for loving me. I am sorry for all my sins, for not loving others and not loving you. Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again. Amen
Prayer for Forgiveness:
O my God help me to remember the times when I didn’t live as Jesus asked me to.
Help me to be sorry and to try again. Amen
I confess to almighty God. and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done
And in what I have failed to do;
And I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, All the angels and saints,
and you my brothers and sisters
To pray for me to the Lord our God.
Prayer after Forgiveness:
O my God thank you for forgiving me.
Help me to love others.
Help me to live as Jesus asked me to.