Help!

:confused:

Hi all. I need some advice. I have an 8 year old niece who received her First Holy Communion in June this year. My younger sister and I have drummed in our nieces head that Holy Communion should not be received unless a person has been to confession. She attends a Catholic School and during school they have numerous masses. She is truly a special little girl for she will not approach Holy Communion if she hasn’t been to confession (and knows that she has missed mass due to her parents not taking her, or been bad, as she puts it). She is one of the only ones and the teachers constantly tell her that she can take it. Most of the time she wont. Now she is an altar girl, and again she stands back when Holy Communion is distributed.

My problem is this, I know that children are not capable of committing mortal sin, especially where she is unable to go to church on a Sunday, she cannot drive obviously and its her parents sin for not taking her. I have seen so many people who as children were told they can receive Holy Communion when they were little if they hadn’t been to confession, only problem is now as adults they have the same mentality that they don’t need to go to confession and participate in Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. I DO NOT want my niece missing out on receiving our sweet Jesus so how can I explain to my niece that whilst she is young she can receive the Eucharist but must attend confession as much as possible. I really don’t want her to loose this strong hold she has that confession is an absolute must if she wants to receive the Eucharist more so when she is older. Nowadays its so confusing for children, I don’t want to tell her something that may jeopardize how she believes when she grows older. Her mother (my sister) is not that religious so I only have religious support from my younger sister. Your advice on how I should approach my niece would be very much appreciated!

Hi all. I need some advice. I have an 8 year old niece who received her First Holy Communion in June this year. My younger sister and I have drummed in our nieces head that Holy Communion should not be received unless a person has been to confession. She attends a Catholic School and during school they have numerous masses. She is truly a special little girl for she will not approach Holy Communion if she hasn’t been to confession (and knows that she has missed mass due to her parents not taking her, or been bad, as she puts it). She is one of the only ones and the teachers constantly tell her that she can take it. Most of the time she wont. Now she is an altar girl, and again she stands back when Holy Communion is distributed.

My problem is this, I know that children are not capable of committing mortal sin, especially where she is unable to go to church on a Sunday, she cannot drive obviously and its her parents sin for not taking her. I have seen so many people who as children were told they can receive Holy Communion when they were little if they hadn’t been to confession, only problem is now as adults they have the same mentality that they don’t need to go to confession and participate in Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. I DO NOT want my niece missing out on receiving our sweet Jesus so how can I explain to my niece that whilst she is young she can receive the Eucharist but must attend confession as much as possible. I really don’t want her to loose this strong hold she has that confession is an absolute must if she wants to receive the Eucharist more so when she is older. Nowadays its so confusing for children, I don’t want to tell her something that may jeopardize how she believes when she grows older. Her mother (my sister) is not that religious so I only have religious support from my younger sister. Your advice on how I should approach my niece would be very much appreciated!
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You seem to be the one that is confused and are confusing her. She cannot approach Holy Communion when she is aware of committing a Mortal sin until she has confessed that sin. She can freely approach Holy Communion with venial sins that she is aware of and has expressed sorrow for in the Penitential rite of the Mass.

[quote=Myangel]My problem is this, I know that children are not capable of committing mortal sin, especially where she is unable to go to church on a Sunday, she cannot drive obviously and its her parents sin for not taking her. I have seen so many people who as children were told they can receive Holy Communion when they were little if they hadn’t been to confession, only problem is now as adults they have the same mentality that they don’t need to go to confession and participate in Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. I DO NOT want my niece missing out on receiving our sweet Jesus so how can I explain to my niece that whilst she is young she can receive the Eucharist but must attend confession as much as possible. I really don’t want her to loose this strong hold she has that confession is an absolute must if she wants to receive the Eucharist more so when she is older. Nowadays its so confusing for children, I don’t want to tell her something that may jeopardize how she believes when she grows older. Her mother (my sister) is not that religious so I only have religious support from my younger sister. Your advice on how I should approach my niece would be very much appreciated!
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But you don’t want her developing into a scrupulous mess either. It’s wrong if this girl is getting the impression that she’s in mortal sin when she clearly isn’t-- it’s quite a stress on a girl that age, don’t you think?

Tell her that she can’t be responsible for a sin if it’s not her fault. Maybe explain to her the idea of if someone forced her to do something, i.e., with a gun to her head, that it wouldn’t be her fault, but someone else’s.

You may be worried about her losing her strong hold on confession now, but you’ll be much more worried when she’s resentful of you and the Church for misleading her.

She doesn’t have to be in fear of mortal sin every second of her life.

Tell her point blank that she isn’t in mortal sin for something that she isn’t responsible for, and, what’s better, discuss this with a priest and have the priest tell her and assure her that she isn’t in mortal sin. It seems like she’ll grow up to be a devout Catholic lady, don’t make her shoulder the heavy burden of a non-existent sinfulness, because I’m sure any person’s actual burden is enough without an imaginary one on top.

I know that you are trying to help your little niece…But…It is Ok to approach Holy Communion if you have committed venial sins…That’s why we do the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass. Mass is a sacrament of forgivenes.

Please do not allow this sweet little girl to be burdened by scrupulousness…She needs to develope a healthy conscience, but she also needs to understand that only a Mortal Sin can keep her from the Eucharist…and most children of her age are not capable of such sin.

Confession is, indeed, a wonderful sacrament, and we all are called to partake of it often…However, it is heresy to teach that one must go to confession before recieving Holy Communion. It just isn’t true, unless one has committed a mortal sin.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]You seem to be the one that is confused and are confusing her. She cannot approach Holy Communion when she is aware of committing a Mortal sin until she has confessed that sin. She can freely approach Holy Communion with venial sins that she is aware of and has expressed sorrow for in the Penitential rite of the Mass.
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I am aware that she cannot approach with mortal sin, however how can I explain to her that she cannot possibly be in a state of mortal at the age of 8, Can she??? I dont want her growing up thinking that most sins are not her fault, which in this case the gravest sin she thinks she is committing is not attending church on Sunday due to her parents not taking her and I AM AWARE that this is her parents sin not hers. I am also aware that any sin she has would be venial not mortal. My confusion does not surround when she can and cannot receive Holy Communion, its how I can explain it to a little girl so that she understands that her sins are not her fault AT THIS AGE but once she is at an age to take on responsibility for her sins she HAS to confess before receiving Holy Communion. Like I said I have seen many family friends my age who had this taught to them when they were young, and all their adult lives blamed one thing or another for their sins so thought they could freely receive Holy Communion.

There is a reason the Church has children make their first sacramental confession before they receive their first Holy Communion. Once children are at the age of reason - anywhere from 7-8 or so, they are capable of mortal sin. The Church would not expect them to engage in Confession until later, if they were incapable of sinning at this tender age.

Example: Is not a mortal sin to steal? Are children not capable of stealing?

Does the little girl truly understand the difference between mortal sin and venial sin?

If she has made her first Holy Communion and is consciously aware of mortal sins she committed, then she is doing the right thing in abstaining no matter what anyone says. Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church does teach this. However, if she is not guilty of mortal sin, then it is truly sad that she is not participating in receiving our Lord in the Eucharist when the opportunity is there.

Lets do a simple review of Mortal Sin:

  1. There must be grave matter.
  2. The person must know that it is grave matter.
  3. The person must make a choice of doing evil over good, in spite of knowing there is grave matter involved.

Number three is really the clincher there because when we are aware that something is wrong, like talking about someone else’s faults, but we proceed to do so anyway, we have then committed a mortal sin. We deliberately said “no” to God and “yes” to sin. It should be “yes” to God and “no” to sin.

All three conditions must be met to make something a mortal sin, requiring sacramental absolution.

What if it is venial? More importantly, what is venial?

Lets say that a Catholic raised in the 1970’s was not taught it was a sin to miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation. This person goes to Mass only sporadically and goes to Communion. If the person is not consciously aware that this is a mortal sin, then one of the three pieces of criteria were not met, and this person has only committed a venial sin - and unknowingly. If the person had been taught that missing Mass is a sin, and chooses to disregard that teaching, then they are committing a grave sin.

Lets apply this to your niece. She is not old enough to drive. She is not old enough to apply some pressure to her family to take her to Mass. She simply is not responsible for missing Mass on Sunday when her family does not take her. They however, are another story. Are they aware that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass? If they have been taught this, but reject it (disobedience), then not only do they sin in not going themselves, but they sin in depriving this little girl of Holy Mass - a double offense. The little girl is not the cause of the sin of missing Mass, the parents are. And, it would only be fitting for her to see her parents going to confession for this purpose (setting the example).

Its very sad, I know. We see this all the time. As an aunt, all you can do is like I do, continue to feed them the orthodox faith and believe it or not, God will grant them the grace necessary to live it. I see it already in younger kids who want to go to church when mom and dad don’t.

I too would be worried about this child developing scrupulosity. If she is abstaining because she missed Mass, I would help her to understand that all she can do is to ask her mom and dad to take her and if they refuse, it is not her fault that she misses. She does not need sacramental absolution, but if she is bothered by it, can talk to the priest in the confessional.

No one has to always go to confession every single time before receiving communion! Don’t teach her that. The two sacraments are different. They are not inextricably tied together.

Confession is not a pre-requisite for communion, even for adults.

Confession is for the forgiveness of sin, either mortal or venial, especially mortal. As you have pointed out, she has no mortal sin.

Since she is attending a Catholic school, let the religion teachers teach her what mortal sin is and is not.

And don’t turn her scrupulous at such an early age.

Hi all. I need some advice. I have an 8 year old niece who received her First Holy Communion in June this year. My younger sister and I have drummed in our nieces head that Holy Communion should not be received unless a person has been to confession. She attends a Catholic School and during school they have numerous masses. She is truly a special little girl for she will not approach Holy Communion if she hasn’t been to confession (and knows that she has missed mass due to her parents not taking her, or been bad, as she puts it). She is one of the only ones and the teachers constantly tell her that she can take it. Most of the time she wont. Now she is an altar girl, and again she stands back when Holy Communion is distributed.

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In reading your post, I’m wondering if your neice thinks she must go to Confession before every Communion. That is the message I get, but I wonder if that is what you meant to convey. She only has to go to Confession if she has committed a mortal sin, though frequenting the Sacrament of Penance does strengthen us, even if we go just to confess venial sins. But she should not be missing out on the Eucharist for just venial sins.

quote=MyangelMy problem is this, I know that children are not capable of committing mortal sin especially where she is unable to go to church on a Sunday, she cannot drive obviously and its her parents sin for not taking her.
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Children can commit mortal sin. The age of reason is 7 years old. But that doesn’t mean your neice is committing mortal sin by missing Mass when her parents won’t take her. She should talk to her priest, so he can advise her about what to do.

quote=MyangelI have seen so many people who as children were told they can receive Holy Communion when they were little if they hadn’t been to confession, only problem is now as adults they have the same mentality that they don’t need to go to confession and participate in Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin.
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Here again, I am getting the message that you mistakenly think Confession must precede communion. Again, that is only if a mortal sin exists. Do you know the 3 conditions that must be present for a sin to be mortal? But I know what you mean about people who thoughtlessly approach the Communion line, and never go to Confession.

quote=MyangelI DO NOT want my niece missing out on receiving our sweet Jesus so how can I explain to my niece that whilst she is young she can receive the Eucharist but must attend confession as much as possible. I really don’t want her to loose this strong hold she has that confession is an absolute must if she wants to receive the Eucharist more so when she is older. Nowadays its so confusing for children, I don’t want to tell her something that may jeopardize how she believes when she grows older. Her mother (my sister) is not that religious so I only have religious support from my younger sister. Your advice on how I should approach my niece would be very much appreciated!
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Maybe you can talk to your sister about the importance of attending Mass on Sunday. Tell her it is a mortal sin to miss Mass, and that she is responsible for the spiritual development of her daughter, and to cause her child to miss Mass doubles the responsibility to attend Mass.

OK Let me try to explain again. I am aware that confession is only for mortal sins, and you dont ALWAYS have to go if only venial sins are committed, although healthy to confess venial not necessary. My niece’s catholic school, well I sure wouldnt be counting on them teaching the complete faith if it were my child. From what I know she believes/has been taught that Holy Communion should be taken when one goes to confession, I know its only for mortal sine but I dont think the children have been taught the difference. I know the teachers tell her at mass she can receive Holy Communion but they havnt explained to her why. This is where I need help, returning to the Church only over a year ago and having no children of my own I need some guidance on how to explain it to her in CHILD TERMS. My niece, God bless her, finally convinced my sister to go to confession after approx 20 years of being away from the Church, and now being an altar girl has her mother going to mass every week SO FAR. This past Saturday they both attended confession because I misinformed my sister that Mass was obligatory on All Saints and All Souls day (so I thought and was told different from the priest, that shows how long I have been away from the church). Basically I just want to make sure I do not jeopardize how she conducts herself when she grows. I sure do not want her to miss receiving the Holy Eucharist and its been bothering me that she has. I will talk to her just need to know how to approach it.

Encourage your neice to receive Communion frequently, unless she has committed a mortal sin. Teach her to have an ardent desire to be united to Christ, and to arouse in herself sentiments of faith, hope, love and humility before receiving Holy Communion. Teach her to be devout and to think about Jesus, and to make fervent acts of virtue while in the Communion line.

A worthy Communion will bring her close to God, with an increase of sanctifying grace. It also helps to preserve us from mortal sin, and remits venial sin. Holy Communion repairs the soul, strenghtening us by lessening our inclinations to sin, and uniting us to God.

Get her familiar with the ten commandments, and the various ways each one can be broken. Then she will be able to determine if she needs to go to Confession.

Even if we are not in a state of mortal sin, it is a good habit to go to Confession frequently because it greatly helps us to overcome temptations, to keep in a state of grace, and to grow in virtue. These graces are given abundantly by God when we experience frequent Confession.

[quote=paramedicgirl]Encourage your neice to receive Communion frequently, unless she has committed a mortal sin. Teach her to have an ardent desire to be united to Christ, and to arouse in herself sentiments of faith, hope, love and humility before receiving Holy Communion. Teach her to be devout and to think about Jesus, and to make fervent acts of virtue while in the Communion line.

A worthy Communion will bring her close to God, with an increase of sanctifying grace. It also helps to preserve us from mortal sin, and remits venial sin. Holy Communion repairs the soul, strenghtening us by lessening our inclinations to sin, and uniting us to God.

Get her familiar with the ten commandments, and the various ways each one can be broken. Then she will be able to determine if she needs to go to Confession.

Even if we are not in a state of mortal sin, it is a good habit to go to Confession frequently because it greatly helps us to overcome temptations, to keep in a state of grace, and to grow in virtue. These graces are given abundantly by God when we experience frequent Confession.
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Thanks paramedicgirl, she has a Bible for Children, I will sit her down and get her to explain the commandments to me so I can determine what she thinks is mortal and venial and whether she knows the difference. Thanks again.

This may help, but it will be spread over 2 posts because it is long. I used it for my catechism class last year, and made it up from the Baltimore Catechism and the Faith in Life series we used to teach Catechism

The Ten Commandments Explained

  1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have other gods besides me.
    We are commanded by the first commandment to offer to God alone the supreme worship that is due to Him. We can keep this commandment by offering to God acts of faith, hope & charity and by adoring Him, trusting Him and praying to Him.
    This commandment forbids idolatry, which is offering a creature or object the supreme worship that belongs to God alone; it also forbids us to ascribe to a creature or thing any of the attributes that belong to God alone. The first commandment also forbids sins of superstition and sacrilege, as well as sins against faith, hope & charity.

  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    This commandment commands us to always use God’s name with reverence & respect, as well as the saints’ names and all things holy. By this commandment, we must always be truthful and faithful in taking oaths and vows.
    This commandment forbids us to swear using the holy name of God or Jesus; it forbids cursing & calling on God to witness a lie. It forbids blasphemy, which is insulting language that expresses contempt for God. Nor can we use God’s name casually, as in the expression of surprise or anger.

  3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
    This commandment commands us to go to Mass on Sunday, and to keep this day holy.
    This commandment forbids us to perform unnecessary servile work on Sundays, unless the good of our neighbour, the honour of God or our own need requires it.

  4. Honour your father and your mother.
    This commandment requires us to respect & love our parents, to obey them in all that is not sinful, and to help them when they are in need. Besides our parents, the fourth commandment obliges us to respect & obey our lawful superiors, such as teachers and other persons who have been placed in charge by your parents. Parents are also bound by this commandment to love & care for their children, and citizens of a country are bound to obey the lawful authority of that country.
    The fourth commandment forbids disrespect, unkindness & disobedience to our parents & lawful superiors.

  5. You shall not kill.
    By the fifth commandment we are commanded to properly care for our own spiritual & bodily well being & that of our neighbour.
    This commandment forbids murder & suicide, also fighting & anger, hatred, revenge, drunkenness, drug abuse & bad example.

Explanation of the 10 Commandments continued…

  1. You shall not commit adultery.
    By the sixth commandment we are commanded to be pure and modest in our dress, thoughts, actions and behaviour. Purity is a moral virtue that preserves & strengthens the other virtues. Modesty inclines us to refrain from any action or word that might lead us to endanger our purity.
    The sixth commandment forbids all impurity & immodesty in looks, dress, actions & words, whether alone or with others.

  2. You shall not steal.
    By this commandment we are commanded to respect what belongs to others, to live up to our business agreements and to pay our just debts. Even if we are not obliged by civil law to respect these obligations, the court of conscience imposes them on us.
    This commandment forbids stealing, cheating, unjust keeping of what does not belong to us, unjust damage to the property of others, and the accepting of bribes by public officials. We are obliged to return stolen goods, or their value, to the owner or their heirs whenever we are able. We must also make restitution to the owner for damaged property. If the owner or their heirs cannot be located, we must give the value of the goods to the poor or another pious cause. Cheating on exams is a sin, and a prize won by cheating is stealing and requires restitution.

  3. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
    The eighth commandment commands us to speak the truth in all things, especially in what concerns the good name and honour of others. We are commanded to keep our neighbour’s faults to ourselves, and to practice the virtue of truthfulness.
    This commandment forbids lies, rash judgements, and sins of backbiting, slander, and the telling of secrets that we are bound to keep. It is permissible to give an evasive answer to someone who should not be asking that particular question. A lie told as a joke or for someone’s benefit is a venial sin, bit a lie that causes harm to another is a mortal sin.

  4. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
    The ninth commandment requires us to be pure in thought & desire. Thoughts about impure things are not always sinful, but are always dangerous, meaning they can lead us to sin. Impure thoughts become sinful when you take pleasure in thinking them, when passion is aroused or when consent is given.
    The ninth commandment forbids all thoughts & desires contrary to chastity. We should form the habit of praying immediately when we have impure thoughts, desires or imaginations. It is good to know by heart special prayers to Jesus and our Blessed Mother Mary that we should repeat in times of temptation.

  5. You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.
    The tenth commandment of God command us to be just & moderate in our desire to improve our condition in life, and to suffer with patience the hardships & other sufferings permitted by Our Lord, since these sufferings are always for our merit, even though we may not realize it.
    We are forbidden by the tenth commandment to desire what others have and to take or keep what does not belong to us. We are also forbidden to envy our neighbour. It is permissible to seek material prosperity if we do so honestly, and do not expose ourselves to sin by so doing.

Get yourself and your sister a copy (about $8-$10) of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.” You will find everything you need to teach anyone what they need to know about the Catholic faith and the Sacraments.

As an 8 year old, your neice should be completely capable of understanding the differences between mortal and venial sin. Just talk to her - but know the differences between mortal and venial sins yourself - she’ll understand it, too. Use the Catechism for your own understanding so you can make sure you explain it correctly.

Be sure to get a copy of the Catechism to your sister, too, since she doesn’t seem to understand that it is a mortal sin to intentionally miss Mass.

Another thing to help her understand the difference between mortal sin and venial sin is this. Talk about accidents and on purpose. Give examples:

Stealing: Mortal or venial

I went to the store. I really wanted a piece of candy but didn’t have any money. I ate it in the store so I wouldn’t have to pay for it. Mortal or venial?

I went to the store. I was really excited that I had some extra money to buy some candy. After I left the store, I realized in my excitement, I forgot to pay for one of the pieces of candy. Mortal or venial?

Give her real life examples for her to understand the ten commandments applied to her life.

Also talk to her how important it is to receive communion when only venial sin is present. How God wants to help her to not do anything bad at all, and the best way available is to receive as much as possible as long as she doesn’t have any mortal sin to confess first.

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all. (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Guidelines for the Reception of Communion (Washington, D.C., 1996))

If your niece is guilty of mortal sin, she should go to confession before receiving Holy Communion. However, because she is a small child, she may not have an opportunity for confession and, in that case, before receiving Holy Communion she should make an act of perfect contrition with the intention of confessing as soon as possible. As she gets older and she become more mobile, her opportunity for prior sacramental confession should increase.

Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

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