Children’s First Confessions
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS IN RELATION TO
CHILDREN’S FIRST CONFESSIONS AND ON CONFESSION GENERALLY
by the Reverend Richard Waddell, J.C.L.
Regular use of the Sacrament of Penance should be part and parcel of every Catholic’s life. It is one of the most precious spiritual treasures of the Catholic Religion and offers each one of us the opportunity to grow and mature as Christian and as a human being. Preparing for our Confession ensures that we examine our conscience: our way of life, our values, our dealings with each other, and, above all, our relationship with God. Self-knowledge is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth; without self-knowledge and the willingness to act on it, we are useless to ourselves and to everyone else. Thus, this is a Sacrament which we not only begin in childhood but also continue all through our adulthood.
As a Catholic Priest, I am very aware that there are many Catholics who do not regularly use the Sacrament of Penance. Perhaps as our children prepare to make their first Confession, their parents could consider also making their Confession. For some, it may also a ‘first Confession” – the first for a long time! For others, it is an opportunity to witness to the importance of the Sacrament of Penance in your life.
Continuing on from my earlier observation, it is not absolutely clear why so many people have fallen away from Confession. One problem, I suspect, is that we grapple with the subject matter of Penance – what do we confess? So many of the things confessed in the past seemed to have been merely infractions of various disciplinary rules and regulations. Really serious sins were and are, for most people, few and far between, and even they, for the most part, can be excused for some reason or other, we think.
Together with this, the problem of guilt, which was so troublesome to previous generations, seems to have disappeared altogether. Now the problem seems to be the complete absence of guilt!
Perhaps a past practice of Confession which seems to some to have been unsatisfactory and a new atmosphere is which a sense of right and wrong, of responsibility and guilt, seems to have been replaced by a more easy-going and less demanding vision of what constitutes a good Christian life, have combined to make Confession the most neglected Sacrament in modern Catholicism.
What is to be done?
First, we must be willing to accept that Confession should be part of our life and that we need to do something about it. If we can see no need for Confession in our life, then we have to ask ourselves whether we really accept the basic tenets of the Gospel, which is a journey towards God which begins with repentance, confession, and amendment of life.
Secondly, we need to identify what it is in our life which is stopping us from becoming the person God wants us to be. One thing might be that we do not have a relationship with God so we have lost the vision of what he wants of each one of us. Another thing might be that we know perfectly well what we should do with our life and the way we live but deliberately choose otherwise.
This is where we get down to the nitty-gritty. Is there any room in my life for God? Why do I not make space for him? Why am I so afraid to love, to be self-forgetting, to model my own love on God’s love for me and to love my neighbour (my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, my work colleagues, my fellow parishioners) as God loves them? Why am I so afraid to accept love – from God and the people through whom he mediates his love? We can all think of our failures in love in these way. These failures – not keeping up to the mark – falling by the way – these are the subject matter of Confession, and the starting point of a more robust and detailed self examination.
Back to the point
This articles is supposed to be about your child’s first Confession so it will not develop the above themes any further but I am sure that any parent reading this will have got the idea, namely, it would be wonderful if your child’s first Confession were an occasion when you yourself are moved to make your Confession and a more conscious and intentional living of the Christian life, even if you are already a regular penitent. There could not be a more powerful witness to your children of the value of this great Sacrament than the whole family going to Confession and experiencing its great graces together.
- Candidates are in Year 3 or above at school.
- Attendance of Mass at St Augustine’s or St Joseph’s on a regular basis.
- Candidates have been baptised and a copy of Baptism Certificate provided with enrolment form if not baptised at St Augustine/ St Joseph Parish.
- Attendance of preparation classes by the candidate and at least one parent/carer is expected. Attendance by both parents encouraged.
Enrolment for 2023 for Year 3 students and above will open in July.
Students in Year 2 will celebrate this sacrament at the beginning of 2024, the same year they will receive First Eucharist.
Please see St Augustine’s Balmain website for full details.
For questions regarding First Reconciliation (Confession) please contact the Parish Office on 9810 1157
or email the sacramental coordinator at [email protected]