I love a first sacrament day! Today was a special celebration of first Reconciliation for our boys and girls, young ladies and gentlemen of our parish.
There is a lot of prayer and work that culminates into this day, by the kids, their parents, the catechists and the Rel Ed Staff. It’s a kind of hard sacrament to work with since it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other sacraments – and can get a totally undeserved wrap if not presented or experienced well.
So, one of the things I’ve wanted to do since starting as a D.R.E. years ago was to help arrange things so that this sacrament is given it’s place of significance in the families lives along with Holy Communion. It at best often is just seen as a hurdle to get to the Eucharist, and at worst well the stuff of nightmares I’m told. So we make sure to talk about what the sacrament is really about, not focusing on what we’ve done wrong, but about God’s love and forgiveness of our poor choices and missed opportunities. We have teachers who do a great job making sure the kids have all the information coming to them in a way they can relate and engage. We put a retreat for the children and their parents with presentations and activities to help make sure all the pieces fit together for them. We set the confessional spaces in inviting looking areas with a candle, bible and purple cloth. We play calming and upbeat music and we have not only certificates, but goodie bags and I have to share with you the wonderful poem Barb, she’s just marvelous : ) uses with the candies so that whenever they have any in the future it might strike a memory and understanding…
Dear child of Mine,
I how you all have Mounds of sins,
And some of them are real Whoppers,
But Jesus is your Lifesaver.
Going without forgiveness is nothing to Snicker about.
Your soul is worth a Mint to Me.
So, be a Smartie, go to confession regularly,
In heaven you Treasures will be great,
Hugs and Kisses,
God : )
I’ve felt led to have it include things that are appropriate and not make it a show, but to make it a good experience as well as echo some of their future confession like experiences, having a group of priests available, and waiting in line with their families, taking time out of their day to come. I have to tell you, seeing all those happy smiles, kids and parents after the sacrament are priceless.
And sometimes I get to hear the voice of God, as His voice always is, very quietly, but very present…We had a lull and I suggested to the parents waiting in the pews that they take advantage of the opportunity and go to confession too. One Mom a little embarrassed said she’d need the directions. I smiled, “No problem, here’s a copy, just take your time”.
Time passed and I greeted other families. Then as she left the Day Chapel with her family, the Mom approached me and she was beaming. She gave me a big hug and whispered “Thank you.” In a split second I knew He was there, in light in her eyes, in warmth in her hug and in whisper in her voice. God is just totally awesome! For His presence is not in the fire or the storm, those are the signs of His power, but He is present in the gentle breeze in the short, soft moments whispering to us I am Here.
Like I said, I love a first sacrament day!