What Your Child Has Been Learning
Talking with your son or daughter about Penance and Reconciliation
In class your son or daughter has been learning a great deal about the sacraments. You, however, are the best teacher your child has. You have the most lasting influence and since they were tiny, they have looked to you for guidance and the answers to just about anything.
In the next weeks, take the opportunity to have a conversation about what this sacrament means.
The goal of this preparation is to make children comfortable with the sacrament, and willing to celebrate it on their own as they mature.
Obviously you can't review this with your child in one easy lesson! Budget some time to go over the material in at least three or four 'small gulps.'
The poster we gave you last month can also be of help to you in speaking with your child.
Things to keep in mind:
- They don't have to have the ritual memorized. First, different priests may go about the celebration differently. Second, any priest is going to lead a penitent through it as they go. Your child should know in general what to expect as s/he celebrates the sacrament.
- They don't have to be miniature moral theologians, but they should be able to give you examples of sin.
- They shouldn't be afraid of what is going to happen, but know that in the sacrament they are welcomed by a forgiving, loving and always merciful God.
|Some common sense advice from
Pope Francis about forgiveness
As you continue to talk with your child, be conscious of discussing the following points:
- What are things that are right for you to do?
- What are things that are wrong for you to do?
- How do you know the difference? (They should be able to evaluate actions with the following questions: Will I become a better person? Will I hurt someone? Is it fair to others?)
- What happens when we make bad choices? Can we be forgiven?
- What is sin? (Disobeying God's law; turning away from God on purpose.)
- Are mistakes sins? Give an example to tell the difference between a mistake and a sin.
- What are some of God's laws? (You might also want to have your child give an example of rules in your family.)
- When we break a law, does God stop loving us?
Reinforce for your child that God always forgives us. There are many ways to ask for God's forgiveness - in personal prayer, in the celebration of the Eucharist, and in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.
In the sacrament of penance, we have the chance of hearing Christ, in the person of the priest, tell us that we are forgiven.Sometimes it is really nice and important to be able to hear that from someone
- What do we need to feel forgiven? (Say that we are sorry and try not to sin again; try to make up with the person whom we hurt.)
- What happens during the sacrament of penance and reconciliation?
- What does the word "reconciliation" mean?
- How do we prepare for the sacrament?
- What does it mean to examine our conscience? How do we do it? (See page 29 of this resource.)
- Have your child tell you as much as s/he knows of the ritual for celebrating the sacrament.
Take a serious look at the interactions in your family. Where is it possible for there to be more peace?
- Have your child give you some examples for which s/he can take responsibility.
- Discuss what is needed in order for an apology to be heartfelt.
Most of the occasions to talk about this will be less formal and planned. But when the situation arises in family life - and of course it will! - sit your child down and talk about the need to make up with the other person, about learning to forgive and to accept forgiveness.
Peace begins at home, but it doesn't end there. Mention that people are fighting in wars around the world. Pick one "trouble spot" and add it to your family prayers, asking God for the gift of peace.