Childhood Experiences of the Sacraments of Initiation


OK, I've been part of a discussion on another thread that has gradually gone down the road of how often do catholic adults know a sin is a grave matter, but choose to consider it minor, and therefore venial.

As I was thinking of this my own experience came to mind, which I shared in that thread, that I did not know about grave matter untill I was preparing for confirmation (as in I'd got through my preparation for penance and first holy communion), and even then it was more through my own investigation than actually being taught it.

So I'm interested to hear what other people's experiences of the preparation for those sacraments was like, particularly in reference to the idea of different severities of sin. Were the differences pointed out explicitly and clearly enough that they came with you into adulthood? or not?

All the best



My earliest memory of such a specific instruction was in first grade. We were doing preparation for First Communion and had to memorize several terms including venial sin, mortal sin, original sin, etc. We were given examples of mortal and venial sins as well as taught the three conditions for mortal sin.


Hi Martin

I don't remember this being explained to me at all when I was younger. All I remember about preparation for First Communion and Reconciliation was filling in a book, discussions and first confession of course before First Communion. When at confirmation classes, I again don't remember reconciliation and therefore sin being covered in major detail although I do remember having knowledge of the terms mortal and Venial sins by then and a couple of examples. Like you, it was down to my own investigation. It was only after discussions with a friend about reconciliation (leading her to lend me a book) that I discovered the difference and a more detailed understanding of each of these terms. I remember being pretty horrified. One about the many examples in this book and two that I hadn't known about this before!


I only remember being very afraid of the nuns who taught our CCD classes when I was preparing for first confession and Communion, and being really afraid of the priest in the confessional.
For confirmation, we were living in Okinawa on a military base and when word came that the bishop was coming to the island, every kid on base who had been through first confession and communion was rounded up, put through some very fast classes, told to pick a saint's name (but no studying about it or anything like that - in fact, my sisters and I all just traded middle names to keep it simple) and were confirmed. It was a huge age range from what I remember. Not really what it should have been but when you're military and living overseas, you have to make do. :shrug:


I went to ccd for about 11 years. I remember learning nothing from it, and when I returned to the church I was amazed at all the stuff I didn't learn growing up. I didn't really understand about the real presence of Christ in the eucharist. I didn't know what was going on at mass. I didn't even realize that the epistles that were read during mass were part of the bible. I had no idea why Jesus' death on the cross saved us. And basically while I was away from the church for 17 years, all my dislike and disdain of the church was based on me not understanding any of what the catholic faith really was. Yep, that's catholic education during the 80s for you.

I do remember coloring books and making banners and collages and even one time we did wood burning. I remember 4 hour confirmation classes where we talked about none of the precepts of the faith. And after I was confirmed, I was part of the youth group that helped prepare other students for confirmation. Scarey, huh?


I don't really remember a class about mortal vs. venial sin. The person preparing us for 1st Communion may have addressed it briefly. However, our example of mortal sin was murdering somebody. Basically, an 8 year old is going to think, well, obviously I haven't done that so my sins are venial.


I don’t remember my baptism of course as I was only an infant and less than a month old but I cannot remember if my mother said I was noisy or not that day.

I cannot recall my preparation classes for First Communion but do remember our teachers took us to the church right near the school where our weekly classes were held to rehearse and practice as we do not receive as a class, as it was a few kids per Mass for several weeks. The Mass I got my First Communion at, I wore a new dress my mom bought for me and wore same veil my mother had worn for her First Communion. After Mass, I remember posing for a few pictures with the priest and my family then my parents hosted a small party in my honor that had my grandparents, a few cousins and aunts/uncles in attendance where I got small gifts mainly of a religious nature.

For First Confession, we did have some book thing to work in like for First Communion then each of us went into a private room and did a face to face confession then when done, with our family, each of us lit a candle then later when all had received, our teacher & priest presented us with certificates for the occasion. It was low key then afterword, I remember going out to eat with my parents and sister as a family. No gifts were given and there was no party.

For Confirmation, I was in high school, and remember we had some form of all day retreat thing then boys and girls were separated at night to sleep in separate parts of the church then we went home in the morning to change into our nice clothes for the Confirmation Mass with our families and sponsor in attendance. After Mass was done, there was a small reception for the newly confirmed and their families/sponsors then afterword my mother hosted a party/dinner at her home for those of my family who came to the church. Again, the gifts I got were religious in nature.


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