Today’s Lenten activity is an opportunity for catechists to help prepare young people to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Lent, of course, is a season of repentance. For Catholics, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is an intimate encounter with the Lord’s mercy and forgiving grace. A good confession should always be preceded by an examination of conscience.
An Examination of Conscience
- Fill a glass bowl or a tall drinking glass halfway with water.
- Explain that the clear water represents us when we are in the state of grace – in a healthy relationship with Jesus.
- Pour three small drops of food coloring into the water and stir with a spoon.
- Explain that the food coloring represents sin.
- Comment on how even a small drop affects the whole bowl/glass of water.
- Add approximately two tbsp. of chlorine bleach to the colored water and stir. You will notice the colored water lighten somewhat, but the color will not disappear.
- Sprinkle approximately ½ tsp. of baking soda into the colored water, and stir the ingredients with the spoon. Within seconds, the water will turn completely clear.
- Explain that the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation removes our sin and restores us to a state of grace.
- Tell the young people that, before we approach the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, we need to make an examination of conscience – a way of taking a closer look at our relationship with Jesus and with our neighbors to identify what we might be doing (or not doing) to hurt those relationships.
- Do a prayerful examination of conscience with the young people. Invite them to get into a comfortable posture and to close their eyes. Lead them in some deep breathing to quiet them. Consider playing some instrumental music quietly in the background.
- As you lead the examination of conscience, be sure to leave lots of pauses to allow the young people to reflect on each item.
- Here are a number of examinations of conscience for you to choose from (some with general questions, some based on the Commandments, and a few based on the Lord’s Prayer or the Beatitudes):
- An Examination of Conscience
- Guide for Examination of Conscience for Confession of Sins
- Examination of Conscience for Children
- What Are The Beatitudes?
- Examination of Conscience