For centuries the Catholic Church has taught that a person needs to be in a state of grace, that is, free from mortal sin, in order to worthily receive the Eucharist. To that end, Catholics should make an effort to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation any time they recognize the need for the sacrament. One of the precepts of the Church is that we celebrate this sacrament at least once a year. For this year, like last year, this precept has been dispensed along with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Next weekend we will be celebrating this sacrament with the young people of our Parish. They have been preparing along with their parents for this Sacrament which includes confession and penance leading to reconciliation.
Some question the necessity of children preparing for First Communion celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation first. Although children do not have an advanced knowledge of sin or the meaning of the Sacrament, they certainly know the difference between right and wrong that is appropriate for their age in life. A child’s First Penance can be an opportunity for families to reflect together on the quality of their relationships, how they put their faith into practice, and, when possible, to celebrate the sacrament as a family.
In the case of children preparing for their First Communion the Church is clear that they should celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Eucharist for the first time. Next weekend we will celebrate First Communion at the 11:00 a.m. Mass.
In the end, the celebration of these two sacraments marks important moments in the spiritual life of our children and we pray that these sacraments lead them to a deeper understanding of their faith and the grace that God offers to them.