The Student Teaches the Catechist About Reconciliation

I often wonder if I am effective catechist. Too many times, the ninth graders I teach sit with blank stares and respond to questions with disinterested shrugs. I suspect that many of them are simply counting the days until their Confirmation, because they will no longer have to go to faith formation class. I often wonder what will happen to the seeds of faith I have scattered: will they take root or will birds come […]

Understanding the Sacramental Seal of Confession

In a recent lesson on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my fourth graders once again surprised me with their questions. After teaching and discussing the sacrament, our discussion turned toward how much God loves us. After all, God gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so we could be healed and know that he will always forgive us. Understanding God’s unconditional love and mercy for us is always one of my top themes with students. A couple […]

Understanding Reconciliation: A Lesson from the Lost Sheep

My students are celebrating their First Reconciliation in February, and I have been trying to find engaging ways to introduce my students to Scripture stories that will help them to understand the sacrament (such as playing the Game of the Good Shepherd). I am hoping that they will come to a deeper understanding of the sacrament by experiencing the Parable of the Lost Sheep through the eyes of the different characters in the story. After […]

Why Confess? Ideas for the Sacrament of Reconciliation Parent Meeting

“But why do I have to tell my sins to a priest? Can’t I just go directly to God?” This time it’s the Confirmation students asking the question. And yes, you can pray directly to God, and God has already forgiven our sins through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But perhaps we have missed the point of sacramental Reconciliation. As catechetical leaders, it is our responsibility to meet people where they are and […]

Four Reconciliation Questions on the Mind of Every Third-Grader

Twice a year my students celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation with the other classes in the school—once during Advent and once during Lent. Since I teach third graders, I review the sacrament and the steps necessary to make a good confession. While every class is different, I have found some similarities over the years in their concerns, and they often have the same questions: What do I say at the beginning? What sins […]

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. […]

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. […]

Encouraging Reconciliation

In a recent class, I asked who had made their First Reconciliation. All my third-grade students raised their hands. But when I asked how many have celebrated Reconciliation since then, the majority of their hands went down. Even though these children are only one year removed from preparing for their First Reconciliation, they still need to learn about Reconciliation and God’s forgiveness. How do we turn a first-time experience into a life-long practice? I decided to […]

First Reconciliation Parent Session

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of facilitating the First Reconciliation Parent Meeting at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Evergreen Park, IL, where I served as a catechist for a number of years. I had been the presenter at this meeting several times in the past, however, I was not comfortable just delivering a talk in the church to the parents who sat passively throughout. I worked with the DRE, Lori Kennedy, to create a […]

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