According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. With this in mind, it is of the utmost importance to approach the Eucharistic Table for the first time with the understanding of forgiveness for our sins that the Sacrament of Confession provides. Preparation for 1st Sacramental Confession will enhance the reception of 1st Holy Communion by tying together the themes of forgiveness and sacrifice.
While it may be true that some children might be unable to process the abstract concepts in Reconciliation, the preparation and celebration of this sacrament will be meaningful if the focus creates a sacramental experience that brings the positive knowledge of forgiveness to children’s lives.
One-way to do this ‘catch up’ would be to phase in the formation for 1st Sacramental Confession over a two-year period.
- Prepare and celebrate 1st Sacramental Confession with 2nd and 4th grade students for the next two years.
- Third grade children, who received 1st Holy Communion this past spring 2004, would celebrate 1st Sacramental Confession in the fall of their 4th grade year.
Yes. As canon 913 says, children are required to have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they have the ability to understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity. The suggested age, determined to be seven years old, is based on the “age of reason” discussed in many Church documents. Nonetheless, parents, pastors, and parish ministers are to determine whether sufficient knowledge is present and set policy accordingly.
Yes. Parents are the primary educators of their children. Parents may decide to delay 1st Sacramental Confession until a later age, if they feel that their child is not ready. However, in this situation, 1st Holy Communion is not delayed until after the reception of 1st Sacramental Confession.
If children are properly prepared for 1st Sacramental Confession and 1st Holy Communion through approved parish preparation programs and familial liturgical involvement, then it follows that they are probably ready and well disposed.
Catechetical materials are not difficult to find. Many publishers of religious education texts used in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have material that is developmentally appropriate to 2nd grade. In addition, within the texts for 3rd and 4th grade, there are appropriate chapters on the Sacrament of Confession, which can be utilized during preparation in a “catch-up” phase.