As teachers of the faith, we are blessed with the gift of gently helping our students realize and experience the peace and joy of the healing power of God's undying love and unending forgiveness. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation we come to know that our God is indeed merciful and loving. This sacrament humbles us and invites us to conversion of mind and heart. It reminds us that we are in need of healing and direction in our lives so we may learn to live as Jesus lived. We all need the assurance that we can change our lives and find peace in our hearts.
Which is it: Confession, Penance or Reconciliation?
Any of these is fine. The Rite itself uses the words Penance and Reconciliation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes the sacrament is known by many names:
- the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.”
- the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament.”
- the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: ‘Be reconciled to God.’ He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: ‘Go; first be reconciled to your brother.’” (Catechism 1423-1424)
- Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation.
- We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father.
- We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more.
- Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching our thoughts, words and actions for that which did not conform to God’s command to love Him and one another through His laws and the laws of His Church.
- This is called an examination of conscience.
To make an Examination of Conscience
- Begin with a prayer asking for God’s help.
- Review your life with the help of some questions, which are based on the 10 Commandments.
- Tell God how truly sorry you are for your sins.
- Make a firm resolution not to sin again.
An Examination of Conscience for Children
- 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?
- 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?
The Rite of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Reconciliation may be face-to-face or anonymous, with a screen between you and the priest. Choose the option that is the most comfortable for you.
- The priest gives you a blessing or greeting. He may share a brief Scripture passage.
- Make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Bless me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was…” (give the number of weeks, months or years).
- Confess all of your sins to the priest. The priest will help you to make a good confession. If you are unsure about how to confess or you feel uneasy, just ask him to help you. Answer his questions without hiding anything out of fear or shame. Place your trust in God, a merciful Father who wants to forgive you.
- Following your confession of sins, say: “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.”
- The priest assigns you a penance and offers advice to help you be a better Catholic.
- Say an Act of Contrition, expressing your sorrow for your sins. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, then absolves you from your sins.
Act of Contrition
Parents – You Are #1!
- Parents, you are the #1 influence on your child’s faith, and what you do to nurture faith at home and at St. Valentine are vitally important. The Second Vatican Council noted the importance of the home in nurturing faith in its reference to the family as “the domestic Church” or the “Church of the Home”. In essence, the family is the most basic foundation of Church.
- This preparation time for First Reconciliation marks a new chapter in your child’s formation in the Catholic faith. This preparation is not just for his/her “first” Reconciliation ; it is a preparation for a lifetime that only begins with First Reconciliation. It is our hope that your child will experience the mercy of our loving God through this sacrament many times! St. Valentine Church is your partner in this preparation, and is committed to supporting you in your responsibility as Christian parents.
- May God bless you on this faith journey!
Dr. Cindi Fuselier
St. Valentine Religious Education Office
2709 Mesta Street
Bethel Park, PA 15102