Catechetical Sunday provides us the opportunity to emphasize the importance of both Learning and Teaching the Catholic Faith throughout our entire lives. The U.S. Catholic Bishops have provided many resources to help us in this endeavor. A sampling of what you can find on their website www.usccb.org is included below. On This Sunday we will be commissioning our Catechists. We will be praying for them and blessing them as they begin this very important mission to assist parents, who are the first teachers, in education of their children in the Catholic Faith. We will take a special collection to fund the Religious Education program in our parish, since we do not charge a registration fee for the classes. If you believe this is an important task, please help do your part in helping pass on the Faith by contributing as you can to this effort.
Penance and Reconciliation
A Doctrinally Sound Sacramental Catechesis on Penance and Reconciliation
Reconciliation with God is part of the plan of salvation. Through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation—also called the sacrament of conversion and confession—the penitent obtains pardon for sins committed after Baptism through God’s mercy118 (LG, no. 11; CCC, nos. 1422-1424; USCCA, 235-236; CIC, c. 959; CCEO, c. 718).
The sacrament consists of repentance (including contrition for sins and a firm purpose to sin no more in the future), confession, absolution, and reparation or satisfaction (CCC, nos. 1450-1460; USCCA, 237-240).
Repentance of one’s sins arising from an act of perfect love of God is called perfect contrition, while repentance founded in other motives is called imperfect contrition (CCC, no. 1492; USCCA, 237-238).
The bishop and the priest are the ministers of the sacrament (CCC, nos. 1461-1467).
All members of the Christian faithful may seek absolution from a minister of their choosing.
The faithful are obliged to confess all grave (mortal) sins at least once a year after a careful examination of one’s conscience, before receiving Holy Communion (CCC, nos. 1456-1457).
Confession of one’s venial sins helps in the formation of one’s conscience, combats against evil tendencies, allows one to be healed by Christ, the Divine Physician, and allows one to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit (CCC, nos. 1457-1458; USCCA, 238; CIC, cc. 988- 989; CCEO, c. 719).
Penance and Reconciliation allows one to
heed Christ’s call to conversion and penance and strengthens the penitent to resist concupiscence (CCC, nos. 1425-1433; USCCA, 236-237).
The sacrament reconciles the penitent with the Church (CCC, nos. 1443-1445, 1469; USCCA, 242-243).
The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation offers the penitent remission of eternal punishment from his or her sins, along with remission, in part, of temporal punishments, and restores one’s intimate friendship with God (CCC, nos. 1468-1470, 1496; USCCA, 242-243).
Integral confession of grave sins is necessary for absolution (CCC, no. 1484).
Catechesis should include the words, gestures, signs, and symbols of the rites, and should state that the ordinary celebration of the Sacrament is individual confession (CCC, nos. 1480- 1483; USCCA, 237-240).
A Pastorally Sound Sacramental Catechesis on Penance and Reconciliation
Parents and the parish catechetical leader, together with the pastor, are responsible for determining when children are ready to receive First Penance and Reconciliation.121
“Readiness for reception includes knowledge of the person of Jesus and the Gospel message of forgiveness, knowledge of sin and its effect, and an understanding and experience of sorrow, forgiveness, and conversion.”122
Sacramental absolution may be received by those whose disability may limit their ability to describe their sin precisely in words as long as the individual is capable of having a sense of contrition for having committed acts that are sinful to some degree. Catholics who are deaf can confess in sign language and use an interpreter if necessary, or in writing. They should have the opportunity to confess to a priest able to communicate with them in sign language, if sign language is their primary means of communication.123
“In the Latin Church, children must receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation for the first time prior to their first reception of the Eucharist.”124 When an adult candidate for full communion is seeking reception into the Church, the candidate must receive Penance and Reconciliation prior to first reception of the Eucharist.125
Catechesis is provided prior to and distinct from catechesis on the Eucharist.
Parishes often use a penance service format with individual confessions afterwards.
Parents are encouraged to receive the sacrament.