Do you feel like the Sacrament of Confession is "under-emphasized" when it comes to children?


#1

Something I've been pondering for the past few days. I student teach a third grade class at our parish school. It seems like it is assumed that once the kids make their first confession and Communion, they're good to take Communion from then on. I'm thinking about it because we had a little "Mass practice" today and the teacher went over receiving Communion. I told her that maybe we should go over procedure for kids who can't take Communion, since we do have one non-Catholic in our class, and she said that oh yeah, we do have so and so who's not Catholic, you're right. Other than him, I think they all made their first Communions this year.

It's just kind of like there's not much emphasis on confessing any mortal sins before taking the Eucharist, you're either a) non-Catholic so no Communion, b) not old enough to make your first Communion so no Communion, or c) you've made your first Communion so you're good to go from here on out. I feel like this is a pretty common attitude these days. Does anyone else notice this?

I should add that on the one hand, I think about their maturity and wonder if they are even able to sin mortally. But then on the other hand, the Church says they can, and the Church is wiser than I.


#2

Yes I do. By encouraging children to go to confession they are able to learn how to deal with the hidden guilt all children feel from time to time. They will be able to talk to someone who will release them from that guilt. It sends a message to children that they are important and the their deeds good or bad are important to God.

I wonder how many seemingly unimportant actions have weighed heavily on childrens' minds. Teaching them to go to confession teaches them that the priest and God respects and understands them on their journey toward self knowledge.


#3

Yes, it is underemphasized. Upon recieving Communian for the first time, I'm almost positive I was out of Grace. At age six, I tried to sell my soul to Satan for a good singing voice and knew that doing so would mean that would go to Hell. I didn't know the terms "mortal" and "venial" sin until I was about fourteen (although it's very possible that that latter fact is due to my not paying enough attention in religous class until that time.)


#4

Just kids?


#5

[quote="anp1215, post:1, topic:296285"]

It's just kind of like there's not much emphasis on confessing any mortal sins before taking the Eucharist, you're either a) non-Catholic so no Communion, b) not old enough to make your first Communion so no Communion, or c) you've made your first Communion so you're good to go from here on out. I feel like this is a pretty common attitude these days. Does anyone else notice this?

[/quote]

Talk to your principal and pastor about having regular confession times for the children. In our parish religious education program we have confession at least 4 times a during the school year for the kids. I would think in a parish school it would be much more frequent. If it isn't, work to change it.


#6

Many kids are never taught HOW to make a good confession: how to make a good examination of conscience, the actual procedure inside the confessional (e.g. "Bless me, Father..."), the importance of never withholding any known sin, how to say an Act of Contrition and what it signifies, or what to do when they receive their penance and leave the confessional.


#7

Reconciliation is under-emphasized to today's kids - but it also wasunder-emphasized to their parents as well. Parents bring the kids - or are supposed to bring them. They are not.


#8

[quote="1ke, post:5, topic:296285"]
Talk to your principal and pastor about having regular confession times for the children. In our parish religious education program we have confession at least 4 times a during the school year for the kids. I would think in a parish school it would be much more frequent. If it isn't, work to change it.

[/quote]

I can't because I do not work there. I am a student and a guest in the school. If I get a job there one day, I would definitely ask the principal about it.

[quote="dconklin, post:7, topic:296285"]
Reconciliation is under-emphasized to today's kids - but it also wasunder-emphasized to their parents as well. Parents bring the kids - or are supposed to bring them. They are not.

[/quote]

[quote="TheDoors, post:4, topic:296285"]
Just kids?

[/quote]

Of course, it stems from the lack of emphasis the adults place on it. You are right. Here's another question: do you ever see kids in line for confession at your parish? I've seen that once at a neighboring parish, just once. I remember noticing it because I had never seen it before.


#9

Yes, I se kids in line for confession - they come with their families.

I agree that Catholic schools and CCD programs should make confession available to the students a few times a year. Children should learn the procedures before their first reconciliation, which should happen before their first Holy Communion.

That said, the children in the OP are 3rd graders. They have only just past the age of reason (7yo). The Church says that we are to go to confession if we are aware of any mortal sin before we receive communion - which we are only obliged to do once a year.

I am a firm believer in frequent confession, but children who have just begun to receive and just reached the age when they can be culpable for sin, are probably not the target market. ;)

Teachers in upper grades are probably spending more time on how to do a good examine and why confession is important. Personally, I think from about 5 or 6th grade on up is the more appropriate time to focus on reconciliation in a school setting.


#10

The Church teaches that regular Confession, even if one just confesses venial sins, is highly recommended. We don’t want to teach kids what the bare minimum is, we want to teach them what the best habits to develop are - especially kids whose parents are shelling out for Catholic school. Not only is it important for kids past the age of reason to develop frequent Confession as a habit, the Sacrament will help to develop and form thier consciences so that they are able to make better choices when grave situations present as they get older.


#11

[quote="Corki, post:10, topic:296285"]
The Church teaches that regular Confession, even if one just confesses venial sins, is highly recommended. We don't want to teach kids what the bare minimum is, we want to teach them what the best habits to develop are - especially kids whose parents are shelling out for Catholic school. Not only is it important for kids past the age of reason to develop frequent Confession as a habit, the Sacrament will help to develop and form thier consciences so that they are able to make better choices when grave situations present as they get older.

[/quote]

Yes, I agree with you. And as for the shelling out, yeah, there's a lot of shelling out here.


#12

After I went for my first Confession at age 10 (in the 1980's), it was not emphasized to keep going back and also to go at least once a year, etc. My mother did take me and my sister to the "communal" services that offered no chance for private twice a year until I was out of high school. I only learned once out of college and living on my own about going to private Confession no matter if it was part of the communal service or just on its own. That is chalked up to not receiving decent religious education when I was younger. I've learned more reading as an adult through the CCC and Baltimore CC books.

I think the instructions/education needs to be improved. For younger kids, there should be more emphasis that what they tell the priest is between them, that parents should not tell kids what to say, and priests need to take time with younger pentinents & be more kind. By the time the teen years and then adulthood is reached, then its time for them to know the basics of making a good confession, good etiquette while waiting, knowing the rule to go at least once a year, and having made a examination of conscience ahead of time among other things.

Many Catholic themed stores (both online and offline) have good books helping children, teens and adults make good confessions including examination of conscience. There are also good resources online that cost nothing as many churches post such things on websites instructing people how to approach & make a good confession.


#13

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