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 does my child’s Reconciliation book include the family?
Each two-page spread in the Reconciliation: We are your people, the sheep of your flock book includes a “Together as a Family” section. In addition, an entire page is devoted to “Together as a Family” at the conclusion of each chapter. This page includes four parts:
- Remembering Together allows you to share what your child has learned as well as sharing stories of your own faith.
- Sharing Together provides suggestions for family activities.
- Praying Together offers a simple prayer for your family to pray together.
- Getting Ready Together gives practical suggestions for ways your family can prepare for first Eucharist together.
What does my child need to know?
- A child needs to know the difference between right and wrong.
- The child needs to understand that accidents or mistakes are not sins.
- When we deliberately choose to do what is wrong and turn away from God, we sin.
- God is loving and merciful. God will always forgive us if we ask.
- Jesus has given us the sacrament of Reconciliation through which our sins are forgiven and we receive the grace to live as God’s children.
- We must be willing to forgive others, just as God forgives us.
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 your child’s life?
- Does your child have the capacity for sincere sorrow and make an honest effort to do better?
- Can your 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 party 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. Initiate discussions about the temptations in your child’s life. How can those temptations be addressed? As children grow into adolescence they are faced with many decisions and temptations, and they need their parent’s guidance to help them make good choices and avoid sin.
- As a family, plan to participate in parish celebrations of reconciliation during Lent and Advent each year. If you make this a serious commitment, and plan ahead, even your teen-agers can arrange their schedules accordingly.
- What is your attitude toward this sacrament? As a parent, if you participate in the sacrament of reconciliation, your child will most likely want to do so as well.