Next week my fourth child, Mini Me, will make her First Penance. Other than her First Communion, this is the second best part of 2018 for her. I will confess that this same child has already tried several times to receive her first communion..haha. Thankfully the Holy Spirit had prompted me to look up, both times, and gently shake my head to the priest, as I moved her over to receive myself.
As I was going through my notes of what I need to plan to make this day special, I thought this might be a great way to link up with Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 quick takes for this week.
Sit down and talk with your child about this big event.
Open communication is a great way to discover how your child is feeling about this big event. It’s a great time to answer any questions or displace any fears that you might not have known about. We recently sat down and had a little tea about my daughter’s first confession. We went through the ten commandments and did a little “examination of conscience”. I showed her how each commandment can apply to something in her life. She was able to see what sins she may be struggling with.
Place the Act of Contrition prayer in several places throughout the house to help them memorize it.
This weekend I will be taping a copy of the Act of Contrition in my daughter’s bathroom, in our downstairs bathroom, above her desk in our school room, and on the door of our refrigerator. As a young child, I would often work on memorizing a prayer that my mom had in our bathroom as I brushed my teeth or washed my hands. I didn’t even know that I was doing it. I figured the same concept would work for my little one.
My plan is to encourage her to read over the Act of Contrition prayer before bed, in the morning, and several times throughout the day.
You can find this photo below to print out here.
Spend time rehearsing the events of the day.
On Sunday after Mass, I will be giving my daughter a tour of the confessional in our church. She is homeschooled so this is not something that we have done yet, although it is often covered in CCD, PREP classes, or Catholic school.
Children can often make an event scarier than it needs to be in their mind. Therefore, we will spend some time showing her how to go in and close the confessional door. I will explain to her how the priest will push the screen to hear her confession. I want her to feel comfortable with kneeling on the kneeler in the dark and being able to remember her sins.
We will then go through the motions of her finding a quiet place in the church to complete the penance that the priest gives her.
I think this is also a great time to share with your son/daughter that other members of the family (including yourself) will be taking part in this sacrament as well. It is important that we stress that we should take advantage of this sacrament when it is available to us.
Allow your child to pick a special dinner spot.
My children pick their favorite dinner spot only several times a year…one being their birthday, or a special occasion like this. It’s always nice to celebrate the uniqueness of each child in this special way and the other children look forward to the mystery of what dinner will be.
In the past, we have often gotten the child some vanilla ice cream for dessert to celebrate the purity of the Sacrament that he/she just received.
Take plenty of pictures to capture the day.
This picture is one of my favorites. It really shows how focused little Sweet Pea was on this special moment in her life.
This picture of the Fashionista just radiates her excitement of the wonder of being freed from sin. I remember her telling me “I can’t wait to now receive Jesus!”
We make sure to get pictures of the child with their godparents, with our family, and often a picture of them holding their reconciliation certificate.
Try and select a small token gift that will have meaning for your child.
This was a tradition that we started with our oldest, and has become a coveted tradition. We pick several symbolic gifts in a gift bag with this tag attached. The items change as does the symbols/virtues behind them so the children love to see what I have come up with. Additionally, we have also used white tic tacs to remind us that we are made pure as “white as snow”. You could also include a fun candy bar like “Mounds” of grace or “almond joy” of the sacrament.
Schedule confession on your family calendar, once a month, for the next 4-6 months so they can practice this Sacrament often.
This is a huge goal of mine for this year. We have not done this in the past but have made a decision on a Sunday to attend our local shrine that has confessions right before Mass. However, this year I think it is important for the children to see it listed as an integral faith activity just like Sunday Mass.
Your child’s First Confession/First Penance is a beautiful day to cherish the graces of this sacrament.
I hope some of these suggestions will prove fruitful for you.