The Sacrament of First Reconciliation
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” ..As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:19, 21-23).
In the first letter of John we read, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses.” [Luke 11:4, Mathew 6:12]. It is a fact of human nature that we fall short and miss the mark. Sin is before all else an offense against God.
Jesus described himself as a physician who came to heal the sick; he cured many of physical illnesses but he was most concerned with the soul. He often linked the physical healings with the forgiveness of sin because he intended physical healings to be a sign of the healing of the soul. Jesus gave his disciples the authority to forgive sins, the Church continues Christ’s ministry of healing and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation the penitent confesses his or her sins to a priest or bishop, makes an act of contrition, accepts the penance assigned by the confessor, and through the ministry of the Church is absolved of his or her sins. Through this sacrament, the penitent is reconciled to God and the Church, restored to a state of grace, and indeed given the grace of conversion of heart so as to turn away from sin.
Here at Ealing Abbey in accordance with the mind of the Universal Church, First Reconciliation precedes First Holy Communion. Parents of children in Year 3 are invited to enrol their children in the First Communion and Reconciliation programme in September. Catechesis for both programmes takes place once a month, on a Saturday afternoon. Parents are also expected to attend the parents’ preparation session which explores an adult attitude to the sacrament and practical guidelines and exercises to help prepare their children for reception of the sacrament.