Examination of Conscience – A Meditation

Last night, I prepared the young people to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation by leading them in a meditative examination of conscience. First, we talked about the practical steps involved in going to confession. I was pleased to find that in general, they were very familiar with how to go to confession and very relaxed about it. This can be credited to the program offering the sacrament twice a year: Advent and Lent. For […]

If the Grinch Stole the Sacraments

Tonight, I’ll be preparing the young people for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (next Monday). I like to take this opportunity to deal with the question that is foremost on their minds: “why do I have to tell my sins to the priest?” To answer this, it’s best to put this one sacrament in the context of our entire sacramental outlook as Catholics. To be sacramental is to see the presence of God reflected […]

Making Reading More Engaging

Oops…I almost titled today’s post Making Reading More Fun but then I realized that I had previously ranted about the obsession we catechists often have with making sure everything is fun!!! The key is to make learning more engaging (which makes it more fun anyway!) All that to say that last night’s activity made the reading of the textbook much more engaging. We sat around a long table with the Church history timeline spread out […]

Why Do I Have to Go to Confession?

At some point in the life of every catechist, someone will ask, “Why do I have to go to confession to a priest? Why can’t I just talk to God in my heart and ask him for forgiveness?” Well, a new phenomenon is begging this question. I read that “confession websites” are becoming all the rage…places where people can anonymously post their sins (and, of course, read about the sins of others). The hope is […]

Jesus' "First" Words

A lot of attention is often given to peoples’ last words. In the Christian tradition, we focus on the 7 last words of Christ. During this Easter season, I think it is crucial that we pay attention to the Risen Christ’s “first” words – following the Resurrection. “PEACE BE WITH YOU.” These words are so important for us to hear, especially in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. What this world needs is peace […]

Whose Name We Bear

I love the Opening Prayer for the 4th Sunday of Lent: “God our Father, your Word Jesus Christ, spoke peace to a sinful world and brought mankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death he endured. TEACH US, THE PEOPLE WHO BEAR HIS NAME, TO FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE HE GAVE US: may our faith, hope, and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life. We ask this through Christ our […]

Supporting Our "Rookie" Catechists

Here’s an e-mail from a “rookie” catechist who is getting through his first year with the ups and downs that come with it. Luckily, it sounds like he has good support from his DRE, fellow catechists, and from the catechetical community that gathers here on my blog. Let’s hear it for our rookie catechists!!! Thanks for bringing “new blood” to our ministry! We’re here for you!    After reading your entry about from February 22nd about “When […]

Where Do They Get This From?

One more thing about the Advent Reconciliation Service from last week. As the service was winding down and most of the kids had gone to confess their sins to the priests, I saw one priest walk over to another priest to confess. I quietly directed a couple of kids to look over to see that priests go to confession too. One girl’s eyes nearly popped out and she whispered to me, “I thought priests are […]


I mentioned in an earlier post that some behavior issues, especially among the boys, had been an ongoing nuisance. Finally, during the class preparing them for reconciliation, I calmly read the riot act to them. I said, “We are talking about God! We are talking about Jesus! To laugh and make light of things during this class is to make light of our relationship with God.” I went on to explain that, like a coach, […]

What's Mortal and What's Venial

In preparing the eighth graders for the Advent Reconciliation Service, I got into a good discussion with them about sin. Kids are full of questions about what “qualifies” as a mortal sin and what can be characterized as a venial sin. I was encouraged by how comfortable they were in asking questions about some very difficult subjects, such as violence, homosexuality, and adultery. One of the boys asked, “Is sex bad?” They all looked astonished […]

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