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  #1  
Old Nov 5, '07, 10:35 am
grichards7 grichards7 is offline
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Default First Penance before First Communion

I am surprised to find that First Penance/Reconciliation classes are being taught in third grade at my son’s Catholic school (Latin Rite) even as he makes his First Communion this year in second grade. I referenced the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sure enough my suspicions about traditions were correct as it stated “Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time” (Ratzinger, 1994, p.366). I questioned the school Principal about the reasoning and she stated that this case has been debated frequently about Penance before Communion and supposedly the consensus is that children better understand Penance later in life. I challenged her statement with when did rubrics or catechism become open to personal debate and if children can understand the transubstantiation of the Eucharist then they can easily understand forgiveness of sins or wrongdoings. I was told I could contact the religious education teacher for further information and have yet received a return call. Is this “trend” allowed by the church? Have other parents of Catholic school youth experienced this? Evidently, I am forced to find nearby religious classes that will accept my son to get his First Penance classes prior to his May First Communion. Whom should I present this problem to in hope that my younger child and others will be able to receive the sacraments in the order the church intends? If a child completes the sacraments in the order of First Communion then First Penance are the sacraments valid? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Surprised,

Gregg Richards

Reference:
Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal (1994) English Translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition
United States Catholic Conference Inc-Liberia Editrice Vaticana
United States Catholic Conference, 3211 Fourth Street, NE, Washington D.C. 20017-1194
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  #2  
Old Nov 5, '07, 11:34 am
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JimR-OCDS JimR-OCDS is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Quote:
Originally Posted by grichards7 View Post
I am surprised to find that First Penance/Reconciliation classes are being taught in third grade at my son’s Catholic school (Latin Rite) even as he makes his First Communion this year in second grade. I referenced the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sure enough my suspicions about traditions were correct as it stated “Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time” (Ratzinger, 1994, p.366). I questioned the school Principal about the reasoning and she stated that this case has been debated frequently about Penance before Communion and supposedly the consensus is that children better understand Penance later in life. I challenged her statement with when did rubrics or catechism become open to personal debate and if children can understand the transubstantiation of the Eucharist then they can easily understand forgiveness of sins or wrongdoings. I was told I could contact the religious education teacher for further information and have yet received a return call. Is this “trend” allowed by the church? Have other parents of Catholic school youth experienced this? Evidently, I am forced to find nearby religious classes that will accept my son to get his First Penance classes prior to his May First Communion. Whom should I present this problem to in hope that my younger child and others will be able to receive the sacraments in the order the church intends? If a child completes the sacraments in the order of First Communion then First Penance are the sacraments valid? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Surprised,

Gregg Richards

Reference:
Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal (1994) English Translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition
United States Catholic Conference Inc-Liberia Editrice Vaticana
United States Catholic Conference, 3211 Fourth Street, NE, Washington D.C. 20017-1194

This is an abuse that has been going on for years in my parish, until the Bishop put his foot down. I brought it up to our former pastor, and was ignored, because he didn't have the courage to challenge the DRE(Director of Religious Education).

What happens with having children receive first penance after first communion is that, many don't bother. I had high-school juniors in my Confirmation Classes, who had never been to confession in their lives. I brought this up to the pastor, and still was ignored.

Thankfully, the Bishop stepped in and our new pastor mandates first penance before first communion.

Not sure what you can do in your case.

Jim
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  #3  
Old Nov 5, '07, 11:40 am
KCT KCT is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

The idea that kids can't understand Penance in 2nd grade kills me. That means in 2nd grade they can understand Transubstatiation, which is a mystery, but they can't understand offending someone and saying they're sorry? ---KCT
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  #4  
Old Nov 5, '07, 11:43 am
Fitswimmer Fitswimmer is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

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Originally Posted by KCT View Post
The idea that kids can't understand Penance in 2nd grade kills me. That means in 2nd grade they can understand Transubstatiation, which is a mystery, but they can't understand offending someone and saying they're sorry? ---KCT
When my niece received they did it this backwards way too and it made me crazy. As a result, I don't think she's been to confession since First Penance!

It's another example about how our "enlightened age" has driven our kids AWAY from the sacraments.
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  #5  
Old Nov 5, '07, 11:45 am
Jennifer J Jennifer J is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

You can either fight the status quo (who are in the wrong, by the way) or you can just teach your child about reconciliation and then take them yourself.

I'm grateful that our parish does it correctly but if they didn't I would fight it--of course, I'm a trouble maker

Jennifer
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  #6  
Old Nov 5, '07, 12:20 pm
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

As Jim explained from his own experience (I had the same one when my eldest daughter was being prepared for her First Holy Communion), this is something that you will no doubt have to take up with your bishop and pray that he will prove be a true teacher of the Faith. Given what your research has shown you, this is not something up to the consensus of less-than-faithful teachers and administrators.
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  #7  
Old Nov 5, '07, 12:34 pm
John Lilburne John Lilburne is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Some other references that may be helpful in writing to the school, parish priest, bishop and/or Vatican:

From the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum:
"[87.] The First Communion of children must always be preceded by sacramental confession and absolution.[footnote 169:
Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 914;
S. Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Declaration, Sanctus Pontifex, diei 24 maii 1973: AAS 65 (1973) p. 410;
S. Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and S. Congregation for the Clergy, Letter to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences. Episcoporum, In quibusdam, 31 March 1977: Enchiridion Documentorum Instaurationis Liturgicae, II, pp. 142-144;
S. Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and S. Congregation for the Clergy, Response to dubium, 20 May 1977: AAS 69 (1977) p. 427.]"

Canon 914 of the Code of Canon Law is available at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P39.HTM and has:
"Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion."
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  #8  
Old Nov 5, '07, 12:50 pm
BlestOne BlestOne is offline
 
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer J View Post
You can either fight the status quo (who are in the wrong, by the way) or you can just teach your child about reconciliation and then take them yourself.

I'm grateful that our parish does it correctly but if they didn't I would fight it--of course, I'm a trouble maker

Jennifer
Me too!
Boy this would have eliminated a huge fight between my ex and myself about bringing the kids back from a visit early so that they could go to reconciliation before First Eucharist... and it would still be wrong.

For the person that said their niece hasn't been since First Penance... I just wanna know where the parents are? I don't care if my kids say they don't want to go... they go! And they are 18, 16 and 12! My house my rules!

Gosh I am militant!!!!
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  #9  
Old Nov 5, '07, 1:52 pm
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

this very problem was debated in this diocese during the synod sessions, because some parishes were guilty of this abuse. consensus was reached and the new law is that in this diocese children are prepared for first penance in 2nd grade, and first communion in 3rd grade. this is explained that bishop feels there should be separation between the two sacraments so they don't become confused, as apparently there are still many people who think you must confess even venial sins before each and every reception of communion.
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  #10  
Old Nov 5, '07, 2:43 pm
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Quote:
Originally Posted by grichards7 View Post
I am surprised to find that First Penance/Reconciliation classes are being taught in third grade at my son’s Catholic school (Latin Rite) even as he makes his First Communion this year in second grade. I referenced the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sure enough my suspicions about traditions were correct as it stated “Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time” (Ratzinger, 1994, p.366). I questioned the school Principal about the reasoning and she stated that this case has been debated frequently about Penance before Communion and supposedly the consensus is that children better understand Penance later in life. I challenged her statement with when did rubrics or catechism become open to personal debate and if children can understand the transubstantiation of the Eucharist then they can easily understand forgiveness of sins or wrongdoings. I was told I could contact the religious education teacher for further information and have yet received a return call. Is this “trend” allowed by the church? Have other parents of Catholic school youth experienced this? Evidently, I am forced to find nearby religious classes that will accept my son to get his First Penance classes prior to his May First Communion. Whom should I present this problem to in hope that my younger child and others will be able to receive the sacraments in the order the church intends? If a child completes the sacraments in the order of First Communion then First Penance are the sacraments valid? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Surprised,

Gregg Richards

Reference:
Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal (1994) English Translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Second Edition
United States Catholic Conference Inc-Liberia Editrice Vaticana
United States Catholic Conference, 3211 Fourth Street, NE, Washington D.C. 20017-1194
You are correct it has been stated and re-stated several times First Penance MUST precede First Communion. There is a simpler way to do this. It is actually the preferred way of the Church you the parent prepares your children for the Sacraments, or at least for First Reconciliation, and then take him even to another parish if necessary. First Reconciliation is not recorded in the Sacramental records of the parish.
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  #11  
Old Nov 5, '07, 2:52 pm
historybrat historybrat is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

While I don't have any kids, a good friend of mine has a daughter who is preparing for first communion and first penance. We were just talking about this whole thing this weekend after mass. Anyways we do First Penance and then Communion. I think she said First Penance is in January and Communion is in April. She also mentioned that one of the other parishes does the opposite. Some of the parents bring their children down to us to receive First Penance. I know the priest at the other parish is even more liberal than ours and sees no problem with it. His excuse is how many mortal sins could a child have committed. People have presented him with all the documentation but he still hasn't changed the policy at that parish.

If you can't get the policy changed that you need to explain confession and take your child to another priest to administer it.

Historybrat
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  #12  
Old Nov 5, '07, 3:02 pm
Sure Sure is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzleannie View Post
this very problem was debated in this diocese during the synod sessions, because some parishes were guilty of this abuse. consensus was reached and the new law is that in this diocese children are prepared for first penance in 2nd grade, and first communion in 3rd grade. this is explained that bishop feels there should be separation between the two sacraments so they don't become confused, as apparently there are still many people who think you must confess even venial sins before each and every reception of communion.

No offense, but where are these people? Is this why almost no one goes to Communion anymore...not. Seriously, that is just ridiculous. In reality, the problem is that people don't believe they have to go to confession at all.
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  #13  
Old Nov 5, '07, 3:03 pm
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LilyM LilyM is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

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Originally Posted by BlestOne View Post
Me too!
Boy this would have eliminated a huge fight between my ex and myself about bringing the kids back from a visit early so that they could go to reconciliation before First Eucharist... and it would still be wrong.

For the person that said their niece hasn't been since First Penance... I just wanna know where the parents are? I don't care if my kids say they don't want to go... they go! And they are 18, 16 and 12! My house my rules!

Gosh I am militant!!!!
Nothing militant about it in the slightest - many parents make their children go to Mass on Sundays whether they want to or not, why is reconciliation any different?

I'm so blessed that the Catholic schools I attended all had regular communal reconciliation services (with individual confession, though, of course).

And that I had plenty of other opportunities for reconciliation too, having my school attached to the Cathedral in my town, and another church down the road from my home.

My parents never really needed to take me or make me go, though I'm sure they would have if necessary.
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  #14  
Old Nov 5, '07, 3:34 pm
CuriousInIL CuriousInIL is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

This was the way that it was in my parish 10 years ago. Then, because of complaints about the practice, about 6 years ago it was changed so that the parents could opt for a sequence with reconcillation first (which some but few did). Then about 3 years ago the decision was made to get these in the proper sequence and, while it took a few years of revisions to make sure all got both sacraments, now we are on the right track.

It can be fixed.
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  #15  
Old Nov 5, '07, 4:07 pm
Digitonomy Digitonomy is offline
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Default Re: First Penance before First Communion

Quote:
Originally Posted by grichards7 View Post
If a child completes the sacraments in the order of First Communion then First Penance are the sacraments valid?
A couple ways to look at this:
First, it is useful to remember that in the Eastern tradition, children receive Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation at a very young age - long before the age of reason which would allow Penance. So validity is not an issue on the basis of order alone.

Second, which sacrament would be invalid? Certainly not Penance. And the validity of the Eucharist is not dependent on the state of those receiving it. Instead, the graces may not be conferred by reception of the Eucharist if the recipient is not in a state of grace, and such an act would be illicit. So depending on the presence of mortal sin, the perfect contrition of the child, and the attainment or lack thereof by the child of the age of reason, the child may or may not be performing an illicit act by receiving the Eucharist without prior sacramental Penance. But regardless, the Eucharist itself would still be valid.

One last thing, when citing the Catechism it's better to cite the paragraph numbers, rather than the page. There are several different editions of the Catechism with different paginations, as well as online versions that have no page numbers. But they should all use the same paragraph numbers.
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