FIRST CONCILIATION, CONFESSION, & PENANCE
The parishes normally prepare our children and families for this Sacrament prior to their First Holy Communion. This is their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: their first sacramental acts of Confession and of Penance. The Church's proclamation and celebration of God's loving mercy through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is the broad framework of the parish catechesis. Like adults children have a right to an ongoing catechesis in this Sacrament and to be encouraged to approach the Sacrament freely and regularly. Regular reception of the Sacrament is a beautiful way of co-operating with God the Father as the Holy Spirit graces us with what wholesome virtue we need in our continuing, lifelong conversion to Christ.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Church teaches that it is “the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental Confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible” [canon 914]. The same canon of the Code of Canon Law teaches that it is “for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach Holy Communion”. In the Archdiocese of Ottawa, it is normative that children and adults preparing to receive Holy Communion for the first time also participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation beforehand, as a means to prepare themselves most appropriately, and to inculcate a desire for Reconciliation throughout their life.
In consultation with the pastor, a child normally starts going to Confession as he/she prepares for First Holy Communion and after he/she has received instruction (catechesis) on this sacrament from the parish.
No, the preparation for this Sacrament is the parish's responsibility. However, children usually receive instruction in our Catholic schools.
This is a very important question that requires constant turning to Christ's presence especially in the Sacraments. Like every child, every family is unique. Parents are privileged teachers of the faith in the family, and this profound privilege requires you to 'walk the talk'. Active participation at Mass on Sundays is always essential. In consultation with your parish, these ideas may help if you do them: being present at your children's parish preparation when appropriate; going to Confession regularly; praying for and with your children and blessing them; loving the Church, the people of God, publicly and privately.
To learn more about Reconciliation, these resources may help:
- Fr. Robert Barron: "Why do I have to confess to a priest?"
- Fr. Dave Dwyer, CSP, BustedHalo.com: Penance (why we confess).
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1420-1498.
- Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Reconciliation: 295-312.
- The Code of Canon Law: 959-997.
© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto - used with permission.