First Reconciliation

This fall, I have had the privilege and blessing of teaching my youngest daughter’s 2nd grade religion class.  We have been working very hard preparing for their First Reconciliation.  This involved many practice confessions, going over the Act of Contrition and really defining for them what a sin is.  And in explaining what a sin is to children, the Ten Commandments can be difficult, discussing sins above their knowledge base.  But bottom line was that a sin is something you know is wrong and you do it anyway.  And they finally seemed to get that as they listed sins versus mistakes.

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We had days where I was convinced they were not ready and that somehow we had not prepared them enough but then other days, they surprised me with their intuitive understanding of forgiveness and grace.

At last we were at the big day!  I was just as nervous as they were, hoping that everything would go smoothly.  Our daughter was all dressed up, wearing her new First Reconciliation necklace.  And as she nervously went to get in line, I looked around at all of the young children, about fifty of them who were receiving this beautiful Sacrament of Healing.  This would be the first of hopefully many Reconciliations that they would have throughout their lives.  And always during communal penance services, I am in awe as people around me are receiving absolution.  I can almost imagine beams of blinding white light shooting down from Heaven to remove all of the sins.

Our daughter approached the priest cautiously, sitting in the chair and nervously making the sign of the cross.  I could tell she was concentrating as she confessed her sins that she had been thinking about.  But then as her part was finished and the priest was talking to her, she began swinging her feet a little under her chair and smiling too.  I can only imagine what he told her, but I got chills as she received her own absolution.  And after thanking the priest, she came skipping back to the pew to do her penance.

After she came back and all of the young children had come back, my daughter said, “Do you want to go too?”  “Yes!” I smiled back at her!

Prepare yourself for Christmas – attend a penance service!