The sacrament of reconciliation is a way for Catholics to have their sins forgiven and to return to a state of grace in the Catholic Church. Children prepare for their first reconciliation prior to their first Holy Communion. Explaining reconciliation to children can be difficult, but using activities to illustrate the concept can help them understand the purpose of confessing sin.
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Examination of Conscience
Explain to the students that examination of conscience before reconciliation is a way to look inside their hearts. Have each student write down a reason it is important to examine their consciences before they confess their sins. Put all of these reasons in a heart-shaped trinket box with a keyhole cut out of the lid. Go through the reasons with them. Explain how the students should examine their conscience before reconciliation.
Cleansing the Heart
Explain to the students that sin absorbs into their hearts and weighs it down. Divide the students into small groups and give the groups a sponge and a bowl of water. Have the students put the sponges in the water to absorb it. Let the students feel how much heavier the sponge is with water in it. Have the students squeeze the sponge until all the water is back in the bowl and note how much lighter the sponges are. Explain to the students that reconciliation washes away the weight of sin from their hearts.
Healing the Heart
Give each of the students a construction paper heart. Have them write words on it that express how sin affects their hearts, then give them a large, construction paper bandage to put over the heart, covering the words. Explain that the sacrament of reconciliation heals the heart the way bandages heal the body. Have the students write words on the bandage that express how reconciliation affects their hearts.
Creating a reconciliation collage is a good way for students to illustrate the "before" and "after" of the sacrament. Explain that after reconciliation, there is a change in our hearts, thanks to God's forgiveness and grace. Have the children use one side of a piece of paper for a collage to illustrate their hearts before reconciliation and the other side to illustrate after reconciliation. Have students explain the differences in the two sides of their collages.
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