Saturday, February 09, 2013

How to Go to Confession

Have you ever wanted a step by step on how to go to Confession but didn’t want to take your iPhone with the iConfess app into the confessional with you?  Below is how I trained the 2nd Graders who made their first confession this morning.  This is straight out of the Rite of Penance.  Practicing the rite in class, it was precious hearing the children dutifully answer “His mercy endures forever” after I said, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.” (which is at the end of the rite)

  1. Father welcomes you.
  2. You make the Sign of the Cross with Father.
  3. Father says a prayer to help you and you answer: “Amen.”  The prayer is: “May God who enlightens every heart help you to know your sins and to trust in His mercy.”
  4. Father may read a brief passage of Scripture to inspire you.
  5. You tell Father what your current state in life is and when your last confession was, for example: “I am in the 2nd grade and this is my first confession” or “I am a wife, father, priest, etc. and my last confession was a month ago.”
  6. You Confess your sins specifically and how many times you did them.
  7. Father gives you counsel on how to do better.
  8. Father gives you a penance
  9. You tell Father if the penance is acceptable
  10. Father invites you to say the Act of Contrition. You say these or similar words:
    “My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.”
  11. You bow your head as Father extends his hands over your head and says the Prayer of Absolution.  The prayer is: “God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.  Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace.  And I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
  12. At the end, you may make the Sign of the Cross and say: “Amen.”
  13. Father says: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.”
  14. You answer: “His mercy endures for ever.”
  15. Father says: “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.”
  16. You may say, “Thanks be to God” or “Thank you, Father” and depart.

That’s it!  I have found that if you practice the rite at each religion class running up to First Reconciliation rather than waiting to go through it at the end after you’ve covered the theology, it reinforces it much better.  I also made up fake scenarios and sins and did a “straw” confession in front of the class with a volunteer 8th grader – this was a big help too.  I also never use the word “nervous.”  I avoid planting in their heads that this is anything they should even suspect being nervous about – other than the natural nervousness of something new.

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