Posted tagged ‘Sacraments’

Lesson Notes: Examination of Conscience

March 24, 2017

examination conscience

This lesson brings us a fun perspective on something we should all do during Lent – go to confession.  The format is a game show based on the Ten Commandments, so warm up your cheesy game show host voice, parents).  After briefly reviewing the Commandments, you’ll read some little scenarios of people misbehaving and ask your kids to:


When I was the parent of younger kids, I always liked to look at how each of the Commandments was described to make sure I wouldn’t be introducing innocent little kids to concepts they didn’t need to know quite yet.  (I’m looking at you, Commandments #6 and #9.)  And I recommend you do the same.

At the same time, there is definitely a point where your kids will need to wrestle with the meaning of all the commandments, and in this culture, that time will most likely come when they are still Family Formation age.  Read the Soul Search Question Cards ahead of time and decide for yourself.  But please keep in mind that if you are avoiding certain topics simply because they are less comfortable to discuss (even though your child may already be exposed to them), the main message you are sending is that it’s too awkward to talk to you about some things.  And seriously, that is NOT the message you want to give your up-and-coming teens.  (Tangent over.)

The idea of this game is two-fold: to give you all a better working knowledge of the Commandments, and to help you all prepare to go to Confession.  And that’s where the other planning part of this lesson comes in.  Before you do this lesson, check your family calendar against the Sacrament of Reconciliation schedule at your parish and plan the next time you’re all going.  Going sometime within a week of doing this lesson would be ideal.

One more suggestion: If you have younger kids who are old enough to sit in a pew for 20 minutes or so (maybe ages 3-7), I highly recommend you bring them to confession even though they’re not old enough to confess.  Of course, you would not bring them into the confessional with you, but there are great benefits to be gained by having them witness the process and become more comfortable with it even at an early age.

“The confessional is a place where people let God’s love win.”

February 2, 2016


I’ve blogged this before, but it’s well worth re-reading, especially in light of this month’s topic, Lent coming up soon, the Year of Mercy … you get the idea.

Click over here for Inside the Confessional: What Is it Like for a Priest?, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that a priest views the sacrament of Reconciliation in a different light than some of us weary penitents do.  Here are a few pieces from his list:

I get to regularly come face to face with the overwhelming, life-transforming power of God’s love.

[I get to see]  see the way in which God’s sacrifice on the cross is constantly breaking into people’s lives and melting the hardest hearts.

I see a person who is still trying — a saint in the making.

Does a priest remember your sins?  Is he judging you for failing?  Is he bored or scandalized by what you have to confess?  Read to the end – you’ll be glad you did!

Then I have a few assignments for you:

  • Read it aloud to your entire family
  • Share it on your favorite social media sites
  • Forward a link to someone who has been expressing doubts about Confession
  • Print the article and mail it to someone you know
  • Take to heart all that Father Mike says here and receive the Sacrament!


Vestments – pointing the way to Jesus

October 27, 2014

All About Jesus logo

We’ll get to vestments in a minute, but first I think a little groundwork might be helpful.

Why is it that only an ordained Catholic priest can preside at Mass?  The short answer is that Jesus set it up that way; you can read about it in various places in the New Testament (Luke 22:19 and John 20:21-23, to start with).  Jesus gave the apostles the power to lead and teach, to celebrate Eucharist, and to forgive sins.  The apostles passed that power, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders (ordination) on to the first bishops who passed it on down an unbroken line to your bishop today.  Before long, the church grew and grew to the point where these bishops needed help, so priests and deacons were ordained to do specific jobs under the authority of their local bishop.

Jesus is the true and only high priest, and is the source of all priesthood.  Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, it is Christ himself who is now present as a priest performs a sacrament.  For example, your confession is being spoken to Jesus and it is Jesus who forgives your sins.  In another example consider this; any person could say the prayers of the Mass, but transubstantiation only takes place when an ordained priest says them.  Ordination gives a priest the power and authority to act in the place and person of Christ himself!


Now on to today’s related topic.

Since your priest is very aware of the reality of Christ’s presence in his ministry, even a simple action like getting dressed for Mass is an opportunity for prayer.  Before he begins putting on vestments, he washes his hands and prays that Jesus will give him the grace of purity.  He puts on his alb and prays that through the grace of his Baptism that he will be wholly devoted to Jesus.  While tying on his cincture (the cord tied around his waist) he prays that Jesus will strengthen him with the virtue of chastity.  The stole is a signal that he’s “on duty” and ready to officiate at a Sacrament.  While putting it on, he prays that Jesus will make him worthy of this awesome job.  And finally, he puts on a chasuble which covers everything else.  This is a symbol of charity (love) and, as he puts it on, your priest prays that all he does is covered by the love of Jesus.  A very common version of this prayer is this Vesting Prayer.  You can learn more about the meaning of the vestment pieces as you read through it, and since many of them are included with your priest paper doll, you can read while your child dresses Father for Mass.

Completed Paper Doll Example

And for grown-ups who want to learn more, I recommend this short piece on liturgical vestment from the Vatican’s web site.

The Holy Mass – pointing the way to Jesus

October 14, 2014

I’m using the title because it follows the pattern of my Heart of Catechesis posts, but to say that the Mass points us to Jesus is grossly inadequate.  Jesus is way more than an incidental that happens each Sunday, He’s the source of all grace, the sacrifice that is offered, the One offering the sacrifice, the teacher, the center, the author, the mediator … we could go on and on!

All About Jesus logo

Having said that, there are some specific ways that Christ is traditionally recognized to be present in the Mass:

  • First, and most important, Jesus is “present” in the Eucharist.  More precisely, he is the Eucharist; body, blood, soul and divinity.  We can’t see it, but with the words of consecration Jesus promises that it happens.
  • He’s also present in the priest.  It’s kind of a similar situation where we see one thing, but there’s a greater reality behind it.  What we see is our familiar priest, but through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we know that Jesus has given this man the power and authority to act in His name.
  • Jesus is present in the Word that is proclaimed every time scripture is read.
  • Jesus is also present in each and every baptized person.  Combine this with the promise that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” and there’s double reason to recognize the presence of Jesus in the people who are at Mass.

One really good illustration of these ways Christ is present at Mass happens when incense is used.  Among other things, incense is used as a sign of honor for that which is sacred (and nothing is more sacred than Jesus!).  Next time you’re at a Mass with incense, notice some of the times it’s used:

The bread and wine that will soon be the Eucharist are incensed.

The bread and wine that will soon be Jesus truly present in the Eucharist are incensed.

The priest, acting in the person of Christ, is incensed.

The priest, acting in the person of Christ, is incensed.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”
(John 1:1)
Christ, truly present in Scripture, in honored with incense.

And finally, we all stand as the presence of Jesus within each of us is honored with incense.

And finally, we all stand as the presence of Jesus within each of us is honored with incense.

Seeing God’s Will

October 3, 2014

This “God’s Will” activity gets me every time. I always become emotional when I witness my children deeply understanding Truth. Here’s our son, guided by his earthly father in the Faith, touched by the Holy Spirit! Amen!


Thanks to the mom who took this photo of her husband and son doing a First Reconciliation Home Lesson together, and I’m especially grateful that she allowed me to share it here.  What a beautiful witness!

If you would like to know more about Family Formation’s Sacramental Preparation programs, start at our web site, and then contact us with your questions.  It’s one of the most popular pieces we offer and is a great entry level way to help the parents in your parish get used to the idea of teaching their own children.

Also, if you would like to share a photo of your family doing a Home Lesson or photos of your family prayer table, just email them to me!  Not only is it fun to see what’s going on out there, but I think it’s kind of inspirational to support one another in this way.

It’s almost holy week

April 8, 2014

If you haven’t received the Sacrament of Reconciliation yet this Lent, take a peek at this article on 21 reasons why you should, and specifically why you should confess your sins to a priest.


There are lots of times to go coming up on the Church of Saint Paul’s schedule including April 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16.  Several of those are times where multiple priests will be available; you can download the most recent bulletin for details.

A date to remember

January 9, 2014

Pope Francis asked the faithful to learn the date of their Baptism and celebrate it like a feast day. This was at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday, 8 January.

‘The concept of “sacrament” is at the heart of our Christian faith and sends us back to an event of grace in which God makes himself present and acts in our life’, explained the Holy Father.

The following is a translation of the Pope’s catechesis which was given in Italian:

baby kiss

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