Tuesday, December 15, 2015

First Confession

This year our oldest is in second grade which is the year for first confession and communion. In the Fall his class has prepared for first confession (also known as the sacrament of reconciliation and of penance), which has gone about as smoothly as it could go. We had many good discussions at the dinner table about sin and responsibility for your actions. In the week before the sacrament, he got more nervous and had more questions about how to confess and what to confess. The religious education preparation was great but it's hard to avoid first time jitters.

We went to the first reconciliation service on a Wednesday night. He received a number, which indicated where we'd sit for the service and which priest (of the eight present) would hear his confession. He also received a stone, which was explained later.

The service began with some songs and prayers. Then the pastor spoke briefly about the importance of reconciliation. He had a large, red construction-paper heart in his hand. He talked about how sin hurts our hearts because it makes us less loving. Each time we sin, our hearts get smaller and smaller. He took away the big heart, which had a smaller heart behind it. As he talked more, he took away the smaller heart to reveal an even smaller one. Then he explained how sin, if repeated and not repented, hardens your heart so that it is easier and easier to sin, and harder and harder to love. He finally revealed a small stone, which he said is a heart shrunk and hardened by sin. The children were to give their stones to the priest when they confessed to symbolize their desire not to have their hearts turned to stone. The whole thing was surprising effective.

My son had to wait for a few other children to confess before it was his turn. He was more and more nervous as time went by. I told him that I thought waiting in line for confession was probably the worst part for me but that it felt great when it was done. He went up and received the sacrament, giving up his rock. He came back with a joyous look on his face.

On the way out, they had a table in the narthex with those "That was easy" buttons from Staples. Each penitent got to push the button and get a special little booklet to take home. My son was happy to push it, as was his twenty-month younger sister.

That was easy!

To celebrate we went to Chick-fil-A for dessert--a cookie for him, ice cream for his sister, and a split milk shake for Mommy and Daddy.

We arrived home later than the usual bed time, which meant wash-cloth baths for the kids. After they put on their pajamas, J reminded us to say our family evening prayer. At the end, we each give thanks to God for something in our day. J did the usual thanks for family and friends. Then he added, "and thanks for a great confession."

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