My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51)
I haven’t written too much lately about 7th grade CCD but it is progressing well. Last night I took the class to confession. Our parish is trying to establish the habit of frequent confession so we make it available during CCD every couple of months. Afterwards we returned to the classroom and the mood was jubilant. One boy commented on how “light” he felt. Several agreed they feel almost giddy as they exit the confessional. I was asked if we could do this more often. My teacher’s mindset suspected this might be a ploy to get out of class work so I reminded them we had lessons to accomplish in the classroom. One student suggested that if we finish lessons early we could ask Father to hear confessions.
Now I suspect that Father may not always be available for a round of spontaneous 7th grade confessions but the fact this idea was initiated by my students is humbling. The Spirit was truly at work last night. I do so want their parents to know how much the kids long for this sacrament. The good news is that our priests are scheduled to hear confessions every day except Sunday. We reviewed the schedule in class last night and I am hopeful some of these kids will bring their parents back to the confessional. As I have written before, my goal this year is to teach the children but also use them to catechize their parents.
Last year one of our priests gave some tips on making a good confession. He and his fellow priests of our parish had heard hundreds of confessions during Holy Week. I wrote about them here but I thought I would share them again.
1. Give an approximate length of time since your last confession. “A long time’ could mean anything. Was it three weeks, three months, three years, or three decades?
2. Tell the priest your station in life. Are you married, widowed, a student, working full time, etc. This gives the priest a chance to put your confession in context. (I had never heard this suggestion before, but it makes sense)
3. The priest needs enough information to understand the nature of the sin, but doesn’t need excruciating detail. “I violated the fourth commandment” is a bit vague, but a blow-by-blow description of an argument is unnecessary.
4. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for absolution and forgiveness of sins. If you are looking for counseling or spiritual direction, an appointment with the priest in his office is better.
5. Any version of the Act of Contrition is fine. Feel free to make up your own if you can’t remember the formal prayer. Just express your sorrow and your intent to do penance and sin no more. (Has anyone else heard children say “ I am hardly sorry” instead of “I am heartily sorry”?)
Rich Leonardi has a good post on confession tips as well.