All the signs are telling us that people are just not comfortable with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The official Church has made an enormous effort to change that by updating the way this sacrament is celebrated. The New Rite of Reconciliation, published in 1973, introduced face-to-face confession with the opportunity of a more personally meaningful celebration. But the results were dismal. Today, with exceptions here and there, fewer people, not more, make use of this sacrament. Most kids who receive First Reconciliation do not return until Confirmation. Parochial school students are regularly shepherded to the sacraments, but the practice does not continue after they graduate.
Something more is obviously needed. The groundwork has been done. The theology has been revitalized, and the rite has been revised. The "something more" is rediscovering Reconciliation as a life-giving element in Christian life, especially family life.
There is a way to do this, which holds much hope for the future. It revolves around how parents "talk" to their children about reconciliation. Simply, the key is this: Find the essence of this sacrament – honesty, sorrow for wrongdoing, making up, forgiveness, and making amends – in real life. Look for these elements in your life as a family. They are there! Sin is a fact of life. So is reconciliation. When we recover this truth we will become more aware of our need for this sacrament, more open to how it can nourish our lives, more interested in celebrating the reality of God's love, forgiveness, and healing in our lives. Then we just might be able to keep our children from drifting away from this "awkward" sacrament.
Copyright © 2012 Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.
Excerpted from How to Talk to Your Children about Reconciliation by Charles and Margaret Savitskas