Today our second grade students will be receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. As with anyone doing something for the first time, many of them have a little reticence. To allay their little fears I emphasized the beauty of the sacrament and told them not to fear. Focusing on forgiveness and grace instead of sin and guilt was something I learned from reading the life of St. Therese of Lisieux this past summer. When young Therese was preparing to receive the sacrament for the first time, her older sister Pauline told her that when she went to confession “the tears of the Child Jesus would fall on her soul and purify it at the moment of the priest’s blessing.” Pauline also told her that she was not going to confess her sins “to a man, my darling, but to God Himself.” These instructions removed all her fears and gave Therese great confidence.
On the day of her first confession Therese approached the confessional and knelt down, but she was so small that the priest could not see her. He asked her to stand and she made her confession in that manner, remembering what her sister had said. Afterwards Therese said that she left the confessional “with such a light heart that I think I had never been so happy before.” For the rest of her life she said that every confession gave her a foretaste of eternal happiness.
I hope the students approach this first confession and every subsequent one in the same manner. For anyone who has fears about approaching the sacrament of reconciliation and forgiving love, do not be afraid! Jesus himself is waiting for you. He will forgive you and you will be at peace with God!