"Nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus"
God had sent Jesus to forgive sins, but after his resurrection Jesus told the apostles, "‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’" (John 20:21–23).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a Sacrament of Healing.
Sin leaves ugly scars on the person who commits serious sin; it scars other people who are sinned agains; it scars the whole community. These scars are spiritual and can be emotional and psychological with even physical effects. Healing of that person remains incomplete without seeking the forgiveness of God. The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession wipes away our sin, brings us peace and repairs our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves. Jesus is the divine healer and working through the priest he heals us if we come to him confessing our sins, trying to be truly sorry for them, and willing to change with his grace. That is why confession can help us grow as persons.
Preparing for First Reconciliation in the Primary School
Sacrament of Reconciliation
In Second Class (Alive O 4), children are formally introduced to the Sacraments; Baptism, Penance and Communion. As the children are preparing for their First Penance and First Holy Communion we seek to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. We deal also with the main events in the Liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.
The Sacraments are presented as the actions of Christ. It is Christ who offers us the forgiveness of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is Christ who is present in the Eucharist, speaking to us in the Scriptures, leading us in our praise, thanksgiving and worship to God and giving himself to us as the Bread of Life. We go from the celebration to show his love to others.
Children preparing for First Penance and First Communion follow the Alive 0 4 Programme. From the beginning we endeavour to explore with the children the human values and attitudes, which are central to an understanding of and meaningful participation in these sacraments.
· A sense of their own goodness
· A sense of being connected to others
· A recognition of wrongdoing
· A respect for self and others
· A capacity to forgive and to be forgiven
· A sense of celebration
This section will guide teachers through the Alive-O approach to the sacrament of Reconciliation. It is designed to be of use to Second Class teachers who are preparing children for the sacrament for the first time, and also Third – Sixth Class teachers who are preparing children to celebrate this important sacrament on a regular basis.
The Alive-O programme emphasises four key principals which underline its approach to the sacrament of Reconciliation:
- The Goodness of the child
- The interconnectedness of us all
- Jesus as the One who embodied the full potential of human goodness
- God’s never-ending love
1. The story of The Good Shepherd
This parable helps the children to explore their own experiences of being lost and found through:
- Meditative prayer
2. Little Beings
Alive-O uses stories about ‘Little Beings’ to help children reflect on why and how we separate ourselves from God’s love. The Little Beings help to explore attitudes that lead to sin. Little Beings are used because they are sufficiently different from the children to offer a safe distance at which their behaviours can be discussed (what is known in Drama as ‘the fictional lens’).
The Little Being lessons in Alive-O:
Term 2, Lesson 2 - My Goodness
Term 2, Lesson 2 - Being Me! Being Us!
Term 2, Lesson 6 - Losing My Way
Term 2, Lesson 6 – Not Being Bothered, Not Being True
Term 2, Lesson 7 - Still Losing My Way
Term 2, Lesson 7
3. Reconciliation as Reconnecting
Reconciliation is presented as an opportunity for children to reconnect with God and with others. It is an experience of being ‘found’ by a loving God who wants nothing more than for us to be reconciled with God and with others.
Preparing for First Reconcilation: Practical Aspects
Alive-O offers the option of preparing children for an individual or communal celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation – Rite 1 or Rite 2. See:
- Getting Ready for the Celebration of First Penance (Alive-O 4, p.439)
- A Liturgy for the Celebration of First Penance (Alive-O 4, pp. 268-273)
Prayers for First Reconciliation
- Act of Sorrow
- Prayers for and after Forgiveness
Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Classes
Of course, 2nd class is not the only class in which the Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated. Alive-O 5-8 provides opportunities for individual Reconciliation as well as a deepening of the understanding of the sacrament.
- Alive-O 5: Zacchaeus
- Alive-O 6: God’s Never-Ending Love
- Alive-O 7: Christian Morality
- Alive-O 8: In Relation to Reconciliation, Sacraments of the Church (1)