Children’s First Confessions
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS IN RELATION TO
CHILDREN’S FIRST CONFESSIONS AND ON CONFESSION GENERALLY
by the Reverend Richard Waddell, J.C.L.
Regular use of the Sacrament of Penance should be part and parcel of every Catholic’s life. It is one of the most precious spiritual treasures of the Catholic Religion and offers each one of us the opportunity to grow and mature as Christian and as a human being. Preparing for our Confession ensures that we examine our conscience: our way of life, our values, our dealings with each other, and, above all, our relationship with God. Self-knowledge is vital to our spiritual and emotional growth; without self-knowledge and the willingness to act on it, we are useless to ourselves and to everyone else. Thus, this is a Sacrament which we not only begin in childhood but also continue all through our adulthood.
As a Catholic Priest, I am very aware that there are many Catholics who do not regularly use the Sacrament of Penance. Perhaps as our children prepare to make their first Confession, their parents could consider also making their Confession. For some, it may also a ‘first Confession” – the first for a long time! For others, it is an opportunity to witness to the importance of the Sacrament of Penance in your life.
Continuing on from my earlier observation, it is not absolutely clear why so many people have fallen away from Confession. One problem, I suspect, is that we grapple with the subject matter of Penance – what do we confess? So many of the things confessed in the past seemed to have been merely infractions of various disciplinary rules and regulations. Really serious sins were and are, for most people, few and far between, and even they, for the most part, can be excused for some reason or other, we think.
Together with this, the problem of guilt, which was so troublesome to previous generations, seems to have disappeared altogether. Now the problem seems to be the complete absence of guilt!
Perhaps a past practice of Confession which seems to some to have been unsatisfactory and a new atmosphere is which a sense of right and wrong, of responsibility and guilt, seems to have been replaced by a more easy-going and less demanding vision of what constitutes a good Christian life, have combined to make Confession the most neglected Sacrament in modern Catholicism.
What is to be done?
First, we must be willing to accept that Confession should be part of our life and that we need to do something about it. If we can see no need for Confession in our life, then we have to ask ourselves whether we really accept the basic tenets of the Gospel, which is a journey towards God which begins with repentance, confession, and amendment of life.
Secondly, we need to identify what it is in our life which is stopping us from becoming the person God wants us to be. One thing might be that we do not have a relationship with God so we have lost the vision of what he wants of each one of us. Another thing might be that we know perfectly well what we should do with our life and the way we live but deliberately choose otherwise.
This is where we get down to the nitty-gritty. Is there any room in my life for God? Why do I not make space for him? Why am I so afraid to love, to be self-forgetting, to model my own love on God’s love for me and to love my neighbour (my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children, my work colleagues, my fellow parishioners) as God loves them? Why am I so afraid to accept love – from God and the people through whom he mediates his love? We can all think of our failures in love in these way. These failures – not keeping up to the mark – falling by the way – these are the subject matter of Confession, and the starting point of a more robust and detailed self examination.
Back to the point
This articles is supposed to be about your child’s first Confession so it will not develop the above themes any further but I am sure that any parent reading this will have got the idea, namely, it would be wonderful if your child’s first Confession were an occasion when you yourself are moved to make your Confession and a more conscious and intentional living of the Christian life, even if you are already a regular penitent. There could not be a more powerful witness to your children of the value of this great Sacrament than the whole family going to Confession and experiencing its great graces together.
Children who have been Baptised and are in Year 2 or above, are encouraged to receive this Sacrament. Generally, at St Augustine’s and St Joseph’s Parishes, this sacrament is offered during Term 4 of the school year.
Parents will be asked to register their child for the First Confession programme (see below). An admin fee is required to cover the costs of preparation materials. You are asked to pay this at the time you register your child. It can be paid by credit card via the link to the left of this page (Make your Payment or Donation), or by delivering the money, in an envelope, to the parish Secretary (marked with your child’s name). If you have difficulty in paying this fee please arrange see or speak to Fr. Richard by contacting the Parish Office on (02) 9810 1157.
Sacrament of 1st Reconciliation
2021 dates TBA
Reconciliation Parent Formation Night
The Parent Formation and Information night marks the beginning of the Reconciliation preparation period. This night should be attended by both parents – children do not need to come.
NB: Attendance is expected. If you are unable to attend on this date, please phone the office to arrange for your family to meet with Fr Richard individually. 9810 1157
The Children will partake in a 2 week (2 session) preparation programme prior to making their First Confession.
One parent at least is to attend with the child.
Preparation sessions are held at St Augustine’s Balmain
First Confessions will be heard at St Augustine’s Balmain
Please register via the St Augustine’s Balmain website
For questions regarding First Reconciliation (Confession) please contact the Parish Office on 9810 1157
or email the office at email@example.com