Each year, the parish community of St. Francis Xavier invites children to prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is one of the sacraments of healing offered to baptized Catholics and offers us a regular opportunity to restore our souls to a grace- filled state. Asking for and receiving forgiveness is something that we experience and accept through absolution.
Here at St. Francis Xavier Parish, we continue this journey with our children at a developmental level thru age appropriate Catechesis. Our goal is to have each child come to understand and experience the richness of the sacrament.
In its celebration of the sacrament of Penance, the Church acknowledges we are a sinful people, but shows God’s mercy and grace working in our everyday lives. The process of examination of conscience, repentance, and forgiveness brings us closer to Christ as well as those in our lives. It’s a sacrament built on relationships – the necessary healing process that needs to take place when we have wronged those around us as well as sinned against the very God we love. Reconciliation allows us to mend those relationships with the help of God’s grace.
Preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a three-phase process adapted to accommodate the age appropriate stages in the life of the child.
The first stage occurs prior to First Eucharist (usually in second grade). Children reflect on God’s mercy and are introduced to an examination of conscience. Children participate in a communal Reconciliation service and receive individual laying on of hands and absolution.
The second stage of preparation occurs following First Eucharist (normally in third grade). With the guidance of parents and teachers/catechist, students continue their reflection on God’s mercy and forgiveness in an effort to gain greater appreciation of God’s great love for them. It is at the age of about eight or nine years old that most children are capable of grasping the difference between mistakes and sins as well as understanding that sin involves knowing that something is wrong and choosing to do it anyway. Again, students participate in communal Reconciliation and receive individual laying on of hands and absolution.
The final stage of preparation typically occurs in fourth grade. During this stage, children prepare to receive Reconciliation in the form of one-on-one confession with a priest. The 4th graders growing sense of justice and fair play provides the basis for the exploration of Christian morality as a way of life. Emphasis is on our covenant relationship with God and responsibility to the community. Preparation sessions are held. One is held for parents and focuses on our current adult understanding of Reconciliation. The children’s preparation is supported and expanded with materials sent home to the parents and with topics covered in religion classes geared to the age group. A Reconciliation Service is celebrated during the second semester at which children make an individual confession to a priest and receive the sacrament. Parents are encouraged to receive the sacrament with their children that day also.
Each year the child’s understanding of the sacrament deepens as they are exposed to more information and opportunity for reflection. Each year their celebration and appreciation of the sacrament broadens as they have an opportunity to participate in Reconciliation services during the Lenten season.
Each time we gather to ask forgiveness of God and of one another it is a time of hope for our entire community. The Sacrament of Reconciliation brings all of us closer to God.
The Grade 4 Sacramental fee may be paid online by clicking the link: HERE