- Pickle is part of a program with about 400 other children to receive reconciliation and communion this year. Our parish is so big. In many ways this is wonderful but when trying to establish a personal relationship with Christ it is possible to feel lost in such a big setting. Our parish priest allowed just the homeschoolers to gather at their own time. It was small, quiet, quick and we were able to reinforce what we were teaching at home.
We are very proud of you Pickle!
This is a group of very good young people. I am very proud of each of
them and know that they will each continue to grow closer to God with each
I suspect that many of my non-catholic friends are reading this post thinking the usual: Why teach them to confess to a priest? I go directly to God. I answer that by saying we do also. I can't even begin to explain the human need for confession but I know it is there. To realize before God that I am nothing. Remembering that without His love I would not exist is a powerful consideration. Confession always reminds me of that and of His love for me. He took on our sin so that we might be saved. I know that there are many theological reasons and traditions in which we as the Church require this sacrament. I could not even begin to do those reasons justice. Instead I will compare the need to my life. (When my response doesn't answer your question then come back up here and check these links to some with much more understanding and wisdom!)
Saint Aquinas site
Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church site
As a parent I love my children with my entire heart. I often say "no" to them for their own good. I admit that I am not God and do sometime say no out of selfishness. "No you can't get the paint out now!" because I don't want to clean up after you later. Usually though my restrictions are placed out of love for my child. The younger ones need to be told not to run into the street without looking. The older ones don't need that rule. So with my little ones I have lots of rules. When they do something they are not supposed to they often feel very guilty about it.
Pope Benedict XV walks towards a confession box during a penitentice celebration
in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, March 13, 2008.
Suppose they broke one of my coffee mugs. It really isn't that big of a deal. I don't like the little ones to use the mugs because someone often drops them and then gets cut. So my rule is not for the protection of the mugs but for their safety. The younger ones don't get that. They just see me panic when one breaks. It is usually because I need to get up and clean up the mess and try to keep little ones from stepping in the glass and needing medical attention. Now let us suppose that I am not in the house this time. A mug is used for milk, it is dropped and the mess is cleaned up without anyone getting hurt.
Now in the scheme of life the mug breaking isn't a big deal at all. In the life of that 6 year old it is now a huge deal. This little one did something that they knew they were not supposed to do. They are now feeling very guilty about it. Often this little one will not talk to me when I first get home from my errand. I will know that glass broke because I will see the broom left out by the older child that helped clean up the mess and I can see the broken pieces in the trash.
No one got hurt so the danger for me is gone. The little one is afraid to talk to me though. I can see it. I don't push. I will wait. I know the lesson is really learned when they struggle to admit and then come to confess. This time the child gets creative and draws me a picture showing the broken mug and a big heart. I know they are sorry. They went right to the source by giving me this beautiful drawing. All is forgiven but they are still feeling guilty.
Why would they still feel guilty. No one got hurt, they said sorry in a note, they cleaned up their mess. Every thing is OK, right? NO it isn't. That little soul, that little human needs to hear that they are forgiven. It is our human nature to need to feel forgiven and to see love still in the eyes of the one we hurt. This little one might try to dance around the topic, avoid me or even over compensate. Eventually the child will approach me, tell me what happened and then say sorry. Now this is when you can see why God asks us to confess in a human form to a priest.
The child lights up and feels whole when they hear that they are forgiven. I didn't need to forgive, I didn't need to hug, I didn't even need to know. The truth is I already knew, I already forgave, and I already took care of the problem. It was the child that needed to hear mom say, "That is OK sweetie, be more careful next time. I am so glad that you didn't get hurt. You can help me buy a new mug. You know, there is nothing you could ever do to make me not love you, even breaking my favorite coffee mug!" Ending with a big "mom loves you hug".
The child leaves that situation knowing how much mom loves them. They leave with a better relationship with the parent. The child now trust the parent more. The child knows that the love is sincere no matter what. The child knows that talking to mom is the best approach no matter what. The relationship was never damaged on the parent side just the child's side. Now that they heard the parent forgive they are happy again. They now feel very close to the parent. That is our relationship with God. He doesn't need us to ask forgiveness. He doesn't need to meet us in the confessional. (The priest acts as Christ in the Confessional.) He doesn't need to say that we are forgiven. As silly insecure humans we need to hear it. We need to see Christ. We need to say what we did. We need to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness, even though it is already given. As humans we long to get that hug, to hear the words, "Go in Peace"!
The church in her great wisdom, guided by the Spirit takes care of our human needs by offering this beautiful gift of Confession/Reconciliation. That is what I taught my child and that is what I continue to seek every time I enter into a confessional and beg God to love me no matter what. I know He does, but I need to ask and I need to hear him forgive me.