May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, whatever good you do and suffering you endure, heal your sins, help you grow in holiness, and reward you with eternal life. Go in peace. ~Rite of Penance, no. 93
Penance and Reconciliation – Reconciled to Right Relationship, Called to Heal and Restore (USCCB)
The new life in Christ that begins in Baptism may be weakened or lost through sin. Sin ruptures not only our relationship with God but also with our brothers and sisters. By the nourishing light of the Holy Spirit, we are able to prepare for the Sacrament of Penance by examining our consciences to identify those ways in which we are not in right relationship with God and with others. This examination also challenges us to recognize our own participation in the “structures of sin” that degrade others’ lives and dignity. Through the Sacrament of Penance, God offers mercy and forgiveness. In response to this gift, we are called to become vehicles of Christ’s love, making amends and restoring justice and the bonds that have been broken. Healed and forgiven, we are sent to work for peace, justice, and love in our communities and world.
- Sin damages our relationship with God and neighbor
- Sin is never an individual affair
- Sin becomes manifest in unjust structures
- We are called to examine our consciences and admit our failings.
- We receive God’s forgiveness and mercy
- We work to repair the harm we have done
- The whole Church community plays a role in reconciliation
- We are called to be forgivers and peacemakers
Saint Thomas the Apostle Sacrament Preparation Guidelines – Reconciliation
The practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) introduces our children to a life-long process of self-reflection and reconciliation in an age-appropriate manner. We want to help your children to develop spiritual maturity. We want them to examine their hearts, attitudes, words, and actions and take responsibility before God. In the earlier years, Father Jim reads to the children from the Word of God and then leads them through an age-appropriate examination of conscience. Individually, they approach for confession of sin and absolution. In 4th grade, students receive continued catechesis of reconciliation and learn “the art of examining oneself.” This Reconciliation Celebration is celebrated as 4th graders complete this process entirely on their own, in an adult manner. Students continue to receive the sacrament in this form through the eighth grade.
Through the celebration of the Sacrament, students learn that God gives them the power to change their lives and form themselves in the image of Jesus. At Saint Thomas, we see God’s power working in each of your children, moving them to become “great of soul.”
Preparation for this sacrament consists of classroom instruction, parent meeting with children from Saint Thomas the Apostle School and Religious Education programs, and all day retreat with the children from both groups.
An Examination of Conscience for Children (Father Thomas Weinandy)
To Such Belongs the Kingdom
Jesus loved children. As a child himself, he was raised by Joseph and Mary in their home at Nazareth (cf. Mt 2:23). Growing up among relative and townspeople, Jesus experienced the concerns and problems common to all children, such as sickness and death among family members. Within this setting, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Lk 2:40).
Jesus’ affection for children is clearly affirmed in the Gospels. When his disciples attempted to halt people from bringing children to Jesus for his blessing, he insisted: “let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Mt 19:14).
Jesus also demonstrated his solicitude for children by healing them and raising them from death. He restored life to Jairus’ daughter (cf. Mk 5:21-43; Mt 9:18-25; Lk 8:41-56) and the son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17). He healed an epileptic boy and the demon-possessed daughter of a Greek woman (cf. Mt 15:21-28, 17:14-18; Mk 7:24-30; Lk 9:37-43).
His fundamental concern was always for the spiritual development of children. The greatest gift which God the Father can give to anyone, including children, is faith in his only begotten Son. Jesus declared that the Father reveals his Son to children more readily than to the learned and clever (cf. Lk 10:21; Mt 11:25).
Recalling these examples of Jesus’ attention to children sets the proper context for helping children examine the conscience and preparing them for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This sacrament allows Jesus to express his love for children today. Through it, he continues to influence their lives; he demonstrates his power to heal them, to free them from the bondage of sin, and raise them to new life. In turn, this sacrament allows children to come to know and love Jesus. For these reasons, Jesus still exhorts us: “Let the children come!”
An Examination of Conscience for Children
Responsibilities to God:
Have I prayed every day?
Have I prayed my morning prayers and night prayers?
Have I prayed with my parents and family?
Have I been moody and rebellious about praying and going to church on Sunday?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I have been tempted to sin?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me do what is right?
Responsibilities to others:
Have I been obedient and respectful to my parents?
Have I lied or been deceitful to them or to others?
Have I been arrogant, stubborn or rebellious?
Have I talked back to parents, teachers or other adults?
Have I pouted and been moody?
Have I been selfish toward my parents, brothers, and sisters,
teachers, or my friends and schoolmates?
Have I gotten angry at them? Have I hit anyone?
Have I held grudges or not forgiven others?
Have I treated other children with respect or have I made fun of them and called them names?
Have I used bad language?
Have I stolen anything? Have I returned it?
Have I performed my responsibilities, such as homework and household chores?
Have I been helpful and affectionate toward my family?
Have I been kind and generous with my friends?