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In order to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation, your child should…
- know God loves him/her.
- be able to tell the difference between right and wrong.
- understand that sin harms our relationship with others and with God.
- experience forgiveness as a regular part of family life, which helps your child see that reconciliation is a normal part of every relationship.
- know that the sacrament offers God’s forgiveness.
- understand that he/she must be sorry for his/her sins.
- be able to tell the difference between ordinary everyday faults and serious sin.
- understand that the Sacrament of Reconciliation restores our relationship with God and renews our Baptism promises.
- know how to celebrate the Rite of Reconciliation.
What does the Church ask of parents in sacramental preparation?
The Church views the role of parents in the religious formation of children as both a privilege and an obligation. When you presented your child to the Church for baptism, you were distinctly reminded that you have the responsibility of “raising them in the practice of the faith” (Rite of Baptism). This obligation and privilege extend to sacramental preparation.
How can I tell if my child is ready for first reconciliation?
There are many indicators of readiness for first reconciliation, most of which are intangible. As a parent, listen carefully to what your child says about wrongdoing and misbehavior. Encourage the child to take responsibility for his/her behavior rather than blaming others. Watch to see if your child is capable of being sorry and asking forgiveness of others without your prompting. Then, ask yourself the following:
- Is prayer a part of my child’s life?
- Does my child have the capacity for sincere sorrow and make an honest effort to do better?
- Can my child express sorrow and describe wrongdoing in his/her own words?
How can I encourage my child’s participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation beyond “first” reconciliation?
Plan a family gathering to celebrate your child’s first reconciliation. By acknowledging the importance of this event, you convey its value into the future.
During this time of preparation, you are talking with your child about what constitutes a sin. Continue these conversations as your child grows older.
As a family, plan to participate in parish celebrations of reconciliation during Lent and Advent each year.
What is your attitude toward this sacrament? If you participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, your child will most likely want to do so as well.