Friday, October 27, 2006

First Eucharist before confession, year 2

Another year, another battle. This year, I have another child of age to receive First Holy Communion. But our parish still sees fit to wait until the fourth grade to instruct the kids on Confession. So if one desires to follow the Church norms and Canon Law, they are on their own to instruct the child the Sacrament of Penance.
And a good friend referred me to this site called Bonfire of the Vanities by Fr. Fox. In his item on Confession, he explains the value of teaching children about confession.
* Part of the value of bringing children to confession is so they become accustomed to examining their lives, and to recognizing sin as sin, and having discernment about it. The idea that young children don't have sin to confess is absurd. Oh, I am not saying they have mortal sin, only God can read souls. But if you think second- and third-graders don't have sin, what planet do you live on? I was talking to a 3rd-grade teacher last night, about today, and she said, "some of them said, 'but we did that last year!'" I said, if they have any problems coming up with sins to confess, I bet you can help them! She laughed, as did the others at the table; Sister said, "that's what my mother always said to me!"

Another part of it, of course, is so they learn the form. Some will say, the form doesn't matter. And, on one level, that's right. I can help anyone go to confession. But learning the form, and getting it down pat, is valuable because then the penitent can focus energy on the really important stuff: the self-examination. A lot of people use, "I don't remember how" as an excuse not to go, and months become years. Also, a certain rigor of practice contributes to a certain rigor of thought; i.e., it helps people organize their thinking, and that helps their spiritual growth.

* I told the kids, with the sacraments, we think about what God gives us; but did you notice how, in this sacrament, its important that we give Jesus something? And did you notice what we're supposed to give him? Our sins! And, incredible as it seems, he actually wants them! Because he knows how they weigh us down, and he wants to get rid of them for us. I also told them the confessional is "the garbage dump"--we get rid of our spiritual garbage. So I led them in a simple examination of conscience, and I said, we feel sorry for sin, we feel bad about it; that's appropriate. But in a moment, when we let Jesus take all our garbage, we will feel great!
Case in point on the form. My wife often resisted going to confession, and finding excuses was easy. But a huge hurdle was cleared when just this last year, she finally learned the proper form! From our daughter no less, who has a good Catholic curriculum using the Baltimore Catechism. Knowing the correct form and not having to fret about the details removed one more stumbling block.
How many Catholics have not gone to confession for years because of the poor catechesis?

1 comment:

James said...

Hi Kale - this is James Fitz from the TOTB egroup.
That's some blogroll you've got there... I don't think I even know that many people ;o)
Can you add me on??? just starting out in the blogworld.... thanks!