Tuesday, March 11, 2014
How NOT to freak out about preparing your child to receive the sacraments
I could swear it was yesterday when I was pregnant with my first born. I vividly remember the months of morning sickness and throwing up on the side of country roads on the way to work, the thirty-some hours of labor, the 12-plus weeks of colic and constant crying; she was a baby only a blink of an eye ago.
And now she'll be 7 in a few months. She's reading, taking care of chores around the house, feeding her baby sister baby food, and using the word "splendid" in conversation. How did this happen?!
I remember those first few months with Gemma, adjusting to being a mother in general and I distinctly remember this cute thought floating around my head: "Well, I'm so glad it's going to be such a long time before I have to start thinking about serious parenting things like school for her, and preparing her for First Reconciliation and First Communion." The jokes now on past me because the years flew by, and now I'm tackling homeschooling and thinking of resources to use in the upcoming months to prepare her to receive those sacraments of initiation.
And preparing your child to receive the sacraments can be intimidating! When we had our children baptized we publicly stated we would instruct our children properly. And the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist are the foundations of our Christian life, the establishment of a channel of grace between ourselves and Jesus. A big deal. How our children understand and foster their own friendship with Christ begins now, as does their foundational understanding of the faith and it's beautiful yet complex theology.
But as with most freak outs, if you focus on what really needs to happen you feel a sense of relief because it's a lot simpler than we think. To prepare our kids for the sacraments really means we give them a basic understanding of how God's grace and love is freely given to us in the gift of the sacraments and why we so desperately need them for the health of our souls. Our faith or knowledge might not be perfect but we can still give our kids so much encouragement, exposure, and prayers that God can do much more than we think possible.
Baby steps accompanied with our children's sweet curiosity and sincere faith will help us along. What also will help greatly, especially if you're preparing a sweetie for their first confession, is Kendra's wonderful guide A Little Book about Confession for Children. This book thoughtfully lays out a solid understanding of confession, as well as perfectly presenting the sacrament in a loving and approachable way to children. I appreciated Kendra's writing style in that she neither talked down to a child or embellished the subject matter with fluffy spiritual language. All the different aspects of penance are presented from how a regular confession helps us grow in holiness, to what saints loved about the sacrament, to a very well done examination of conscience that is perfect for a child's first confession.
Now to convince Kendra to write the First Communion version!
Magnificat, (my kids and I have loved every book I've purchased from Magnificat and I can't recommend their children books enough for their quality presentation of the faith) and Ignatius Press kindly sent me a review copy and a copy to give away! I'd love to give it away as it's sure to help every kid and parent preparing for this important step in their faith life.
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