To reconcile is to make amends or repair a relationship. The act of reconciliation is not only important for kids as they learn how to get along with one another, but Reconciliation is a Sacrament, or sacred ceremony, of the Catholic Church. Teaching children about the act of reconciliation will be made easier with hands-on, problem solving activities.
Reconciliation or Confession?
Once known as "Penance" or "First Confession," the Sacrament of Reconciliation is viewed by the Catholic Church in a similar manner as the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist -- as a cause for celebration 1. The sacrament includes three parts: conversion, confession and celebration. We can help our children prepare for this so they may more fully understand and enjoy the entire experience.
Discussion of Feelings
Lead a discussion about feelings that arise from various scenarios. Write simple sentences such as "When I obey my parents, I feel..." or "When I lie, I feel..." with a circle beside each unfinished statement. Ask your child to draw either a happy or a sad face in the empty circle. Talk about the importance of apologizing and correcting mistakes so the sad faces can become happy ones.
The Prodigal Son
Tell children the Biblical story of The Prodigal Son emphasizing the similarity between the father's forgiveness of his son and the way God forgives, even when we make mistakes. Assign speaking and acting parts to each child and act out the story. Divide children into groups and ask them to come up with an original skit that illustrates the act of making amends or forgiveness. Ask them to recite the essence of Reconciliation as stated in the Bible I John 1:9, "The Lord will forgive all those who repent" at the end of their skit.
Practice the Sacrament
Some churches have done away with the traditional confessionals in favor of face-to-face conversation in an open setting. Find out how your church handles Reconciliation and walk your child through the Sacrament. If possible, escort him to the confessional prior to his First Reconciliation so he is more familiar with the environment. Allow him to practice kneeling and making the sign of the cross and the traditional greeting -- "Bless me Father for I have sinned. This is my first confession." Ask your child to recite the Act of Contrition.
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