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  • Writer's picturejosie

A Children’s Guide to Preparing for Reconciliation

Here’s a confession! This Lent I’ve led Sacramental Formation for a group of 7-9 year olds, where we meditate on scripture and discuss the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Reconciliation . . . but I myself haven’t taken advantage of that last sacrament. I only know Reconciliation—more commonly known as “confession”—from the movies!

Not live footage of me participating in Reconciliation.


In our Sacramental Formation course, we’ve looked at a couple of parables to see what God does when we’re lost, when there’s some sense of separation—whether due to our own sin, or larger outside forces, or (likely) a mix of both. We see God as the vinedresser tending to the branches of the True Vine: taking care of things when there’s a block in a branch, to get the sap flowing again. We see God as the woman in the parable of the Found Coin: getting busy, lighting the lamp, sweeping away the dust that’s obscuring things until the coin is found. (Then there’s a party! We might think of Communion as the celebration of being found.)


Reconciliation is God’s work, but we also have a task: asking! (That’s the confession part.)

As I’ve noted before, God offers us so many opportunities—so this year, along with the children, I’m preparing myself for Reconciliation of Penitents for the first time. Here’s the way I’m encouraging parents to walk through preparing for this sacrament with their children. It applies just as well to adults, and I’ll be doing this along with my own children.


Examination of Conscience in Preparation for Reconciliation

Optional supplies: writing utensils and our “Examination of Conscience” sheet. (We'll have some at church or you can print your own. On my printer I selected double-sided and “flip on short side,” then fold it in half.)


We’ve talked about what God does when we’re lost, or there’s a block in the vine (see above). Before talking with a priest and praying to God to ask for healing, we can examine our conscience to figure out why we feel lost. Let’s practice now together.


First, let’s talk about the gifts that God has given us. [page 1]

  • Name them specifically by writing them down or drawing pictures: family, friends, having a home, food, outside time/nature, pets, books, music, etc .. . .

    • Take your time with this step. Allow yourself/your children to feel awash in remembering good things, things we love.

    • Take a moment to notice the abundance of these many things we love and are gifts to us.

    • We have named so many gifts that we love! God has given us so much. Why? What is God saying with all these gifts? [“I love you.”]

  • In daily life, when someone gives us a gift, there are different ways to respond to it. Discuss what we do with a gift, and what we do with the giver:

    • Say thank you to the giver.

    • You might return a gift,

    • share the gift with another person,

    • enjoy the gift—these are wonderful things we can do with a gift.

  • Can you think of some not-so-good ways we could respond to a gift?

    • throw it away,

    • break it,

    • refuse the gift,

    • complain about the gift.

Now we can examine our conscience by reflecting on the gifts that God has given us and how we have used those gifts. [page 2]

  • Have I misused a gift, forgotten about a gift, or complained about a gift? Have some of those things created a block in the branch? Some general examples of blocks:

    • fighting with brothers and sisters who are a gift to me,

    • refusing to listen to parents who are a gift to me,

    • God has given us the gift of a mind and a mouth to speak and sometimes the words that come out of it are not gifts…

  • When we examine our conscience and realize that we have not always been thankful for the gifts God has given us, then we can pray for God to remove our blocks, and we can ask our parents or our priest to pray for us.

    • In the parable of the Found Coin, how did the woman feel after she found her coin? [She rejoiced.]

    • But she was not content to be the only happy one in the room? NO! She wanted a party to celebrate. This is how important that removing our blocks is to God, and He celebrates over us!

On page 3, there’s space to record words of scripture to reflect on after receiving the gift of Reconciliation. (You could fill this out before or after talking with the priest.)


 

On Good Friday, Katie and Amy will be available for confession & reconciliation all afternoon. In the Book of Common Prayer on page 223 you can find the simple liturgy for “Reconciliation of Penitents” (tellingly listed under “Rites of Healing”) that you’ll say together with Amy or Katie. As you know, our priests are very un-scary! Children who are comfortable reading may read from the liturgy on p. 223 and discuss their particular “blocks.” They also have the option to bring the Examination of Conscience foldover sheet to show/discuss it with the priest. (Adults are welcome to do the same. Here's another helpful guide that adults might like to use.)


Children who have participated in Sacramental Formation are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity, as well as all adults! If your children are younger, I’d encourage just parents to participate for now.


Then, like the woman with the found coin and the shepherd with the found sheep, we will be ready to come together with friends to celebrate and feast on Easter!

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