Sacraments of Initiation Learning Stations—Free Lesson Plan

We encounter Jesus through the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. In this lesson, young people will complete activities at 12 different learning stations—each sacrament has four stations—that will deepen their understanding of the Sacraments of Initiation. The free lesson plan packet includes instructions for how to set up learning stations that get children out of their seats and moving around doing simple tasks to learn about the symbols and signs used in each Sacrament […]

A Celebration for All: First Holy Communion and the Parish

Last year was my first solo direction of the liturgy for children receiving First Holy Communion. At my parish, this Mass is not part of our regular weekend liturgies. This gave me the ability to ensure that every child had a role. Although we celebrated two beautiful liturgies, I felt that they were lacking a critical element: the involvement of the entire parish. This year I have been trying to reinforce that our celebration of First […]

Embracing the Change of the Sacraments in Restored Order

Parishes in our diocese were asked some years ago to take on the task of introducing our families to the Restored Order of the Sacraments. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is used in regards to a shift in the preparation and celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation from the order of Baptism followed by First Eucharist at about age seven or eight, followed a few years later by Confirmation (between the ages of 12 […]

It’s All About Jesus: Children and the Mass

This week’s lesson for my third-grade faith formation class was about the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Most of my students celebrated their First Holy Communion less than a year ago, so the previous lessons on the Eucharist are relatively fresh in their minds. They seemed confident in knowing that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and they all understood the mechanics of receiving communion. As we got deeper into the lesson, […]

Honesty and the Gift of Reconciliation

Among my group of seventh graders, I have several who are preparing to receive the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Eucharist this year. Because of this, I spent more time in a recent session on Reconciliation talking about the steps of receiving the sacrament than I otherwise would. And that led to a surprising moment of honesty. Finding God, Grade 7, Session 14 formed the basis of the lesson for the evening, but we […]

Apologies and Forgiveness

We were created for love, and we naturally seek forgiveness. This is one reason children naturally take to lessons on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In their young lives, the kids in my third-grade class have made mistakes and gotten in trouble, all the while being continuously loved and constantly forgiven by a parent. In our lesson about Reconciliation, I included a discussion of the difference between what is a sin versus what is an accident. […]

Great Resources for Sacramental Preparation

I’m very excited to tell you about some wonderful resources for sacramental preparation from Loyola Press! A new edition of the already popular God’s Gift program for First Eucharist and First Reconciliation, available in English and bilingual versions, includes some wonderful new features: God’s Gift Intermediate was developed to pass on the truth and beauty of the sacraments to teens or other young people preparing to celebrate the sacraments out of typical sequence. God’s Gift: […]

A Magnificent Banquet

During the “Christmas honeymoon”—those few weeks of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent—I found that I had been lulled into a sense of complacency. My second-grade class had covered a lot of material during the fall, and I felt good about their grasp of the material. But then reality hit me—their First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion were only weeks away! I started to panic, and I wondered if my students were really prepared for […]

Why Reconciliation?

I know there are many people who are downright terrified of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. They are scared for different reasons, but ultimately, I think, it comes down to the belief that they view themselves as unforgivable. How could God ever forgive me for doing this or that? Sadly, such thoughts keep people from having that deep, intimate, and loving friendship that Jesus came down from heaven to restore. Let’s face it, St. […]

A Pastoral Approach to Talking About Missing Mass

I recently received an e-mail from a diocesan catechetical minister who was contacted by a concerned DRE, struggling to address the following problem: A sixth-grade catechist, in teaching about mortal sin, told her students that if Mass is missed, then it is a mortal sin and the sinners will go to hell. Yes, she used those words. The student went home crying because her parents miss Mass frequently. We know these situations are coming up […]

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