Your sins are forgiven.
We celebrated First Reconciliation on Friday evening in the church. Up to this moment, all of our preparation sessions have been virtual. How good it was to actually meet these families face to face instead of viewing them on a screen! It was obvious that something special was happening as each child came in, excited to receive the sacrament.
I remember how different it was when I first started teaching at Saint Mary Magdalene and preparing children for First Confession. In the sixties there were several hundred second graders, as each classroom had 50 children and there were six classrooms. The Friday before First Communion, we lined up 300 children and walked them through those long halls into the church. We had four priests hearing confessions behind those velvet curtains and in the dark behind a screen. I remember well the faces of those second graders, so afraid to go into those confessionals. We had practiced well and they were prepared. Father Laubacher had visited our classrooms and quizzed the children making sure they knew the Ten Commandments. I am sure many of you remember those good old days.
Contrast that with last night when children came with their parents. After all, it was those parents who brought them to the waters of baptism and now wanted to bring their child to receive the unconditional love of the Father. The children listened attentively as Father Steve shared a great story of how it was his job to empty all the waste paper baskets in the house, but it was his older siblings who would help take all the trash out to the garbage can. He assured the children that Jesus was here to help them take out the trash.
The children were dressed to celebrate. As they lined up for confession, you could see their excitement. How wonderful it was that Father Tom Johns and Father Marty Dober came to help Father Steve hear confessions. Parents were able to watch as their child approached the priest, made the sign of the cross, confessed their sins and received forgiveness. Often you would see a child skip away feeling the joy of being free. Each child received a golden candle to remind them to keep the light of Christ shining in their lives.
I feel so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful evening in the lives of these families. I was especially happy to be able to celebrate the joy with my granddaughter, Nora. My greatest prayer is that these children never forget the unconditional love of God, and that each morning when they look in the mirror they say aloud “I am a child of God and nothing can separate me from that love.”
Mary Lou Beers