My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD: THE SPIRITUAL FATHER
A Child's First Confession
Practical Counsels for Priests and Parents
The Confession of children, especially of those who are coming for the first time into this saving Mystery (Sacrament), is a work of the greatest importance. Here, in repentance, before the priest, before the servant of God, children open their soul and receive from it [i.e., Confession] the power given to it from on High, not only forgiveness but also instruction in moral life.
Confession [Repentance]: This is the Mystery (Sacrament) in which the believing person confesses, that is, pronounces aloud his sins to God in the presence of a priest, and receives through the priest the forgiveness of sins from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
It is important to prepare children for their first Confession. Saint John of Kronstadt wrote, "Do not leave children without attention concerning uprooting from their hearts the weeds of sin, of defiled, evil and blasphemous thoughts, of sinful habits, tendencies and passions. The Enemy (Satan) and sinful flesh do not spare even children. The seeds of all sins are also in children. Present to children all the danger of sins on the path of life. Do not hide from them sins, lest they, because of ignorance and lack of wisdom, be confirmed in sinful habits and passionate attachments, which grow and bring forth corresponding fruits as children grow up." Frequently the relationship of children to this great and saving Mystery (Sacrament) depends on their relationship to their first Confession.
When our children were little, we taught them to apologize in a clear manner when they hurt each other, even the youngest, as in: "I'm sorry for hitting you (breaking or taking your toy or whatever). Will you forgive me?" They also began Confession early.
Each evening after family prayers, ask for forgiveness from each other, and always ask for forgiveness as you drive to church to receive the Holy Mysteries (Holy Communion). No forgiveness--no Communion.
Teach your children how to confess properly. They can keep a small notebook that you promise not to look at. Just the sins are written: anger, gluttony, envy, etc...No details. The priest does not need to hear the gory details. Just list the sins and if he needs to, he will ask questions. Then the slips of paper are destroyed. Use one of the many available books that has questions to prepare them for Confession. We've heard of some secret codes by creative young ones.
At What Age Should They Confess?
Seven is said to be a general number for a child to begin confessing, yet many children are ready before this age. This is something that must be discussed with your priest/spiritual father. By that age, they know right from wrong. They actually may know even earlier. On the way to my seven-year old's first Confession, we were talking about the kind of things that one might want to confess, and from the center back seat of the car my five-year old got all excited and started yelling, "I know! I know!" "What?" we asked. "Like when you eat a cookie and Mommy says, "Did you eat that cookie?" and you say, 'No!"
A PRAYERFUL HOME
WHAT MAKES A HOME
by Saint Seraphim of Sarov--+1883
"Neither do walls nor rich furniture make a home. Millionaires in magnificent mansions may never know a home. But where there are good relationships, where love binds the family together and to God, there happiness is always to be found. For good relationships are heaven anywhere. Monotony and misery cannot exist where there is love. But the fire of love must be kept burning warmly and brightly with the sweet wood of sacrifice. In teaching us to cross the "I" out of life, our Lord tells us the secret of happiness: what the Saints call the ecstasy of self-forgetfulness. For Divine Love is always self-effacing, seeks to give rather than to receive, to serve rather to be served, to love rather than to be loved, and will sacrifice anything for the beloved." (Orthodox Christian Parenting: Cultivating God's Creation by Zoe Press)
(Next: The Home Church)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God