GREENVILLE – On Wednesday, Jan. 11, 14 second-grade students received the sacrament of Reconciliation, for the first time, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Greenville.
The students were from St. Mary’s Catholic School, public schools and DeColores Montessori School, who attend religion education classes at Saint Mary’s Parish School of Religion, on Wednesday evenings. These same children will receive another sacrament, First Holy Communion, the week before Easter. This sacrament is receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the first time.
Members of the Catholic faith receive sacraments during their life in the church, which include: Baptism, Penance and Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage and or Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. Catholics believe that the participation in each sacrament provides them with graces – the life of God in their soul. Pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Father John White, led the students with an explanation of reconciliation.
“In a few minutes, we will be examining our conscious, which is a little bit like going to the doctor,” he said. We know we have been sick and we have been wrong. We’ve harmed our relationship with God and one another, or we are not sure. We look at sin and as we are examining our conscious, we realize we need to be better people – the people who God created.”
“It prepares us for a very close tight – knit relationship with Christ we can have in the wonderful sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, coming in union with Jesus in Holy Communion,” White explained. “That is coming very soon, when you will be receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time. We are willing and ready to welcome Jesus. And so, make a very good confession. Think about the things you have done and have failed to do. Avoid those wrongdoings in the future and be the better person that you, oh Lord, want me to be.”
According to St. Mary’s Coordinator of Elementary Religious Education and Religion Teacher Monica Masso-Rivetti, the purpose of the sacrament is to have a second chance.
“Catholics believe in the forgiveness of sins by Christ through the priest throughout life,’ she said. “Reconciliation itself does not train people to keep track of sins, our way of life encourages honesty in self reflection.”
To prepare for the sacrament, the students’ education takes several approaches, Masso-Rivetti said. They learn about the sacrament and study forgiveness and sin. They also practice the form of the sacrament, such as, what will happen when they go to confess their sins.
“Some of the children are nervous about the sacrament,” she said. “We walk the students through the process and allow them to enter the reconciliation room.”
Inside the reconciliation room, which is off to the side of the church alter, they meet with the priest and have a choice of either confessing their sins face-to-face, or behind a screen in a traditional method. Following the confession of sins and the assignment of penance, the priest makes the pronouncement of absolution. In the Catholic church, the Seal of Confession is the absolute duty of priests not to disclose anything that they learn from penitents.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of two sacraments of healing in the Church, according to Masso-Rivetti. The other is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
“These sacraments address the need for healing of body and soul,” she said. “I recognize that I am not perfect, that I am a being that is in process of becoming one with Christ and that I am in need of healing. Reconciliation helps me when I have strayed from the path that I want to be on. I have come to appreciate this sacrament more as I have grown older.”
Something new the school has started is a Christian Meditation for Children in both the school and in the religious education program in the evening.
“It has been an amazing experience,” Masso-Rivetti said. “I begin each class each day with around five minutes of quiet meditation. Grades one through six Wednesday night begin with meditation. Our preschoolers also use meditation.”
For more information, visit www.stmarysgreenville.org.