Children and Confession
When we were editors at the now defunct Faith & Family magazine, my wife April and I collected tips from parents on helping kids confess. Friends of ours from St. Louis shared a children’s examination of conscience that we use today. We share them here for other families to use.
Quick Tips: Getting Kids to Confession
- Show them the confessional. Children will be more comfortable with the sacrament if they are more comfortable with the setting in which it will take place.
- Make it a routine. One family told us they go every first Saturday – that way, it isn’t a surprise to anybody; it’s just what they do.
- Make it an outing. Some families always accompany confession with a meal out or ice cream. This makes it something to look forward to.
- Parents go, too. When the kids go, the parents should go, too. Seeing parents go to confession makes a powerful impression on kids – and they naturally imitate what they see.
- Try a different church. Some families say they go to confession at a different church from their own. That way they remove any embarrassment anyone in the family might have with a priest who knows them.
Children’s Examination of Conscience
Did I pay attention at Mass?
Have I fooled around in Church?
Did I say my prayers every day?
Did I say mean things to my mom or dad?
Did I always say “Thank You” to people?
Am I hard to get along with (during school, at Grandma’s, at home)?
Did I do what my mom and dad told me to do? My teacher?
Was I lazy around the house?
Did I do my chores?
Did I hurt others people’s feelings by calling them bad names?
Have I started fights with my brothers and sisters at home?
Have I blamed other people for things I do?
Did I get other people into trouble?
Do I hit people when I get mad?
Have I forgiven people? Or am I holding a grudge?
Have I cheated or been unfair in games?
Did I refuse to play with someone for no good reason?
Was I was lazy about my schoolwork?
Did I fail to do my homework?
Did I cheat in school?
How many times did I lie to my parents? My teachers? My friends?
Did I take anything that didn’t belong to me?
Did I avoid medicine? Did I refuse to eat food I didn’t like?
How to Go to Confession
1. You always have the option to go to confession anonymously, that is, behind a screen — or face to face, if the priest offers that.
2. After the priest greets you in the name of Christ, make the sign of the cross. He may choose to recite a reading from Scripture, after which you say:
“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been [state how long] since my last confession. These are my sins.”
3. Tell your sins simply and honestly to the priest. You might even want to discuss the circumstances and the root causes of your sins and ask the priest for advice or direction.
4. Listen to the advice the priest gives you and accept the penance from him. Then make an Act of Contrition for your sins (below).
5. The priest will then conclude with: “The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.” And you respond by saying:
“Thanks be to God.”
6. Spend some time with Our Lord thanking and praising Him for the gift of His mercy. Try to perform your penance as soon as possible – in the church, if possible.
AN ACT OF CONTRITION
Oh my God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
And failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance,
to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen.