Question about children and Sacrament of Confession


#1

First, I would like to give a bit of background to my question. I was raised Catholic, but we did not really "live" our faith at home. We went to Mass every Sunday, but that was it. I made my first confession, then I think I went with my mother to a communal penance service once in high school. My parents rarely went to confession - if they did I never new about it - so they rarely took me.

I left the Church at 18, but reverted about 4 years ago. Confession is my last lingering issue. I have a hard time knowing how often to go myself, and have the anxiety that many have over the sacrament. I am getting better with this recently.

My question is in regard to my DD#1 who will be 8 years old in May. She had her first confession a few months ago and I am trying to discern how often to take her. I want her to be comfortable and understand the importance of the sacrament, and the joy and grace that comes from it (which I am working on myself!) so that she doesn't have the same anxiety.

So, how often should children of this age go to confession? I know there is no hard and fast rule, but I'd love some input from other parents. Thanks!!


#2

Good for you for taking your DD. :thumbsup: My oldest is only 4 so I haven't dealt with it yet. I grew up in an otherwise very active Catholic household, but for some reason Confession wasn't something we really did very often -- I remember going only a handful of times as a kid. (Something I want to do differently with my kids.)

Well, here's what the Catechism says:

1457 According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year."56 Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.57 Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.58

1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:60

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.61

I try to go at least every few months, but there are many people who go at least once a month or even more often. I think the more often you go, the less "scary" it is -- at least that's been the case for me. Now, even though I'm always a little "nervous," I'm mostly hopeful and can feel God's grace wash over me at the moment of absolution.

I love the Divine Mercy message and it's really helped me recognize that going to Confession shouldn't be something we dread, but something we want to do. Jesus said these words to St. Faustina:

"Come with faith to the feet of My representative...and make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light." (1725) "Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602)

Jesus is actually there, just as He is in the Eucharist. Knowing that has made going to Confession easier, b/c I know He wants me to meet Him there. :)


#3

I don’t have children, but I’ve decided that when I do, I’d like to institute a “first Saturday” type of deal. I imagine myself driving a car load of kids to church every first Saturday of the month (or whenever the parish offers confession). The kids (and parents) who want to go to confession are free to do so. The kids who don’t want to go can sit and pray for a half hour or however long it takes for everyone else to finish. I figure it’ll expose my children to adoration, and give them the opportunity for frequent confession. Of course, I have no experience handling a bunch of young kids in church, so this may be more difficult and idealistic than I’d like!

Lord, please bless us with children!


#4

I totally understand how difficult it is to get into the habit of going to confession regularly as an adult. I was raised atheist, so confession is obviously not something I was raised with. Wish I had been, though.

It’s easiest to make confession a monthly habit for several reasons. First, it’s less time to have to go back and remember all your sins. Second, confession is a lot quicker and a lot less of a burden. The few times I’ve waited to go for three months, I’ve felt such dread at having to confess so much. Third, the Lord tells us to “keep short accounts,” so the more often you go, the better. Fourth, you get grace from Confession – the grace to avoid these same sins in the future – so you are spiritually more healthy if you go more often. Fifth, iif you always go the first Saturday or the third Tuesday or whatever, it’s easier to remember to go.

My kids go to Catholic school, and each class goes monthly. This makes it very convenient for us, of course, and then we just take them along when we go during the summer months. My husband usually goes to confession on Saturdays, but as I work near the downtown parish that has confessions daily, I typically use a weekday lunch hour once a month to go to confession and then Mass.

If I didn’t have the benefit of a great and affordable parish school for my kids, I imagine we’d just pick a Saturday to go every month. First Saturdays are always pretty crowded, so we’d probably go a different Saturday.


#5

I went to Catholic school and we went to Confession every Christmas and Lent. My Mom also usually took us to the communal confessions at our parish during Christmas and Lent. I think it would have been beneficial to have been taught to go more often than that because I think it would have made it much easier to go regularly as a college student and adult.

I stopped going to Confession for many years. Now, I find myself trying to go once every few months, or more often if I need too. I find that the more I go, the less anxiety I have. I went to Confession yesterday but for some reason felt a lot of anxiety. But the Holy Spirit never fails to help me get from the pew to the Confessional!

I know it is hard these days to sometimes find parishes with adequate hours for Confession. I am fortunately to live near the National Basilica and they offer Confession every day for several hours at a time. I find this helps me prepare much better than if I go to the local church where they offer it only for 45 minutes once a week. Even though I can prepare at home, I have less anxiety if I am able to pray in Church for awhile before entering the Confessional.

It is great you are trying to set such a good example for your children.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#6

My mom used to take the whole family to confession every Saturday. I guess that's how habits are formed.


#7

my advice would be to establish a habit or schedule that is easy to remember and stick to, for the whole family--it is the beginning of Lent, or Advent, or summer vacation, or the school year, and we are all going to confession on Saturday.

Or the first Saturday of the month, whatever is easy to remember.

make sure your children understand they can always ask you to take them if they feel in their heart they want to talk to Jesus in confession, and you will take them.

model reconciliation in the family as well, so asking forgiveness and granting it becomes part of the fabric of family life.


#8

I wanted to add two things that I didn`t put in my initial post.

First, I think it is great you are sending your kids to Catholic school. That was the best gift my parents ever gave me.

Second, I know your kids are little now so arent likely to have committed any mortal sins! But I think it is important to emphasize as kids get older that Reconciliation isnt a sacrament just needed for when serious sins are committed. Even though the Church recommends going at least once a year, it is great to make it a regular habit. I agree with other posters who recommended finding a way to work it into your regular schedule so it becomes a habit.

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#9

Our parish offers confession, Tuesday Nights, Saturday Morning, and Saturday Afternoon. My husband goes more regularly then myself. I average about 4 times a YEAR and he averages about 2 times a MONTH.

Both of our children have receive their first communion, our oldest 1 year ago, and our youngest the end of Jan, 2010. (Our youngest is preparing to receive first communion the end of March 2010).

Anytime my husband decides to go he opens the invitation to the children and myself. I do the same when I decide to go. We also have told our children that if they felt as if they need to go to say something and we will take them as soon as possible.

I can't tell you how many times my son has gone. I know he has gone a lot, often with his father, and there have been at least a handful of times that he has gone, because he asked us to bring him. My daughter has gone twice since her first communion. Once because she asked us to take her and once because the invite to go was extended to her.

One thing is we do NOT MAKE our children go. They go because they want too. We are just sure to ask them every time we go. If they say no that's fine. We just then remind them that if there is ever at time they felt as if they needed to go to just say so and we would do our best to get them there as soon as possible.

If you go regularly your children will too. They naturally like to do what their parents are doing.


#10

[quote="Mommyof02green, post:9, topic:187697"]
Our parish offers confession, Tuesday Nights, Saturday Morning, and Saturday Afternoon. My husband goes more regularly then myself. I average about 4 times a YEAR and he averages about 2 times a MONTH.

Both of our children have receive their first communion, our oldest 1 year ago, and our youngest the end of Jan, 2010. (Our youngest is preparing to receive first communion the end of March 2010).

Anytime my husband decides to go he opens the invitation to the children and myself. I do the same when I decide to go. We also have told our children that if they felt as if they need to go to say something and we will take them as soon as possible.

I can't tell you how many times my son has gone. I know he has gone a lot, often with his father, and there have been at least a handful of times that he has gone, because he asked us to bring him. My daughter has gone twice since her first communion. Once because she asked us to take her and once because the invite to go was extended to her.

One thing is we do NOT MAKE our children go. They go because they want too. We are just sure to ask them every time we go. If they say no that's fine. We just then remind them that if there is ever at time they felt as if they needed to go to just say so and we would do our best to get them there as soon as possible.

If you go regularly your children will too. They naturally like to do what their parents are doing.

[/quote]

I think this is a great "best practice!"

Sincerely,

Maria1212


#11

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