Today my 2nd Grade Catechesis class makes their First Reconciliation. I stumbled upon an article in The Huffington Post about the art of confession written by verteran Catholic author Paul Wilkes.
As I was reading through the article, it got me thinking of how I addressed to my class what Confession is. To a 2nd grader, the idea of Confession is pretty minuscule. They understand it to be merely a "scary" meeting with the priest explaining why they didn't take care of their pets better or played video games too long. The true art form of confession is missed; however there is something to be said for getting a group of 2nd graders stating the Act of Contrition in unison.
"Small c" confession, says Wilkes, is directed to a higher powe and is a pillar of not only religious belief but also mental health--it demands that we are honest with ourselves.
Confession is realignment--when we sin or betray ourselves, we are unaligned. Until we confess our sins our souls remain confused and out of alignment. This "small c" confession demands self-reflection and change and it's taking an honest look at your true inner self. Confession is not only for those who have committed public or private sin, but also for our daily hurts, neglects, and carelessness that disjoints our soul.d.
Also it seems that confession has lost its vitality because we have such an antiquated notion of right and wrong in the world. So how can we truly understand what confession is all about if we really don't know right from wrong? According to Wilkes, Confession is an art. It is an attitude and a way to live honestly and consciously that can heal our souls. Confession is a realignment of what is best in us and how we can live a better life. Once we realize this and we acknowledge this, we can truly understand the Art of Confession and obtain all the benefits it has to offer.
When confession becomes a practice, a daily reevaluation of one's actions -- an art -- its power continues to grow, instilling a new sense of confidence, a vision of what life truly can be and hold. It is building upon something strong and sure and ultimately reliable.
Not sure 2nd graders can get all that--it's enough that they remember the Act of Contrition. But with practice of saying I'm sorry, they may eventually come to understand the true art of Confession and its importance in their lives.
Unsure of some of the more formal aspects of the sacrament of Confession? Check out the VISION article "How to Make a Good Confession."