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Friday, May 15, 2015

Bless Me, Father: A Primer on the Sacrament of Reconciliation

If you can handle the 12-year-old video technician's wobble, a few of my daughters and I put together something for you that might help give you some ideas of how to prepare your child for his or her first (and subsequent) confessions.

I do recommend this "mock confession" model. I also suggest the idea of filming a video with your child--this highly motivated Leah to learn! She told me the next day that she is READY for her First Reconciliation! The main thing to avoid is the idea of checking off a "grocery list." When you say you are sorry to someone you hurt, you come with contrition and sorrow. These are the most important elements for us to bring. God does the rest.

Another daughter and I also put together this little song to break down the 5 things you may say when you go to confession.  

Here are the words. The words in bold are the things you can actually say (the actual Rite does not call for these words, but they are the customary form and can help to get over nervousness):

1. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
2. Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
3. This is how long it's been.
4. These are my sins. (This is where you confess your sins).
These are the ways I've fallen short of who I want to be.
These are the things I've done that keep your grace from flowing free.
5. And I'm sorry for these and all my sins.

(Then it's Father's turn. He will give advice and a Penance, then he'll ask for the Act of Contrition which you say. He will then pray the Prayer of Absolution. You will make the Sign of the Cross at the end and say Amen and Thank you, Father! often you will go and do your penance in the church as soon as you are finished).

This isn't the theology of the Sacrament at all, that's what all of our the Bible studies are for! This is just the "form" so to speak. Some priests I've confessed to didn't care much at all whether or not I used the "form" above, but once you know it by heart, it takes a lot of anxiety away. We always have cards available so they can "cheat" on the customary form part, but it would be great for parents and kids to run through it a few times together. I know Leah felt much better after 5-10 minutes of going through it with me. 

God be with you as you prepare your child!

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