- The Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Policies & Procedures on the Sacrament of First Reconciliation at OLPH
- Norms for Determining the Parish in Which your Child is to Receive both his/her Instruction and Reception of the Sacraments
To understand what it is to be fully human, we need to look at Jesus Christ. Jesus was truly God; he was the Son who lived among us as a fully human person. He was exactly the same as us in all things. He ate like us, he laughed and cried like us, he loved like us and he suffered like us.
The only difference between Jesus’ humanity and ours is that sin played no part in his life. He did not sin. And the reason he did not sin was because he was fully human exactly as God had intended every man and woman to be. Jesus shows us what it is to be a true and complete human being.
Sin enters our lives when we are being less than fully human. Every time we think, say, or do something which is not a reflection of Jesus’ humanity, we sin. But sin doesn’t stop there because so much of what we do or fail to do affects other people. The domino effect of damaging relationships, isolation, and breakdowns in communication, all serve to cut us off from others and so distort and damage people. We even say in extreme cases, “She/He’s like an animal!” True – that person is less than fully human, but then so are those who caused that distortion or damage – that isolation. It’s easy to see that sin damages not only individuals but also whole communities.
Throughout his life Jesus worked and preached endlessly among all sorts of people to bring down the barriers which divided them. He emphasized over and over again that we are all God’s children, God’s family, God’s Chosen People. Following his Resurrection, Jesus’ followers gathered together and became a community. They were united in listening to the words of Jesus and experiencing his active love in the work of his Spirit in their lives. They knew what it was to be fully human but they were also still very weak and easily discouraged.
Becoming fully human
Even in the first accounts of the early Church we can read about tensions, disagreements, and rejection within this community of believers. Clearly, in spite of all that they had experienced, they remained fragile and many of them carried within them the damage caused by sin from past years. No one becomes fully human overnight or even in a year or two. It takes time. And while we are growing towards full humanity we need help. As we have seen, during his life on earth, Jesus recognized this and constantly offered healing and reconciliation to the people he met.
Peace and reconciliation
Following his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, his followers, and offered them first of all his peace. As they were gathered together, full of shame about the way they had deserted him, full of fear about their future and full of questions about who he really was, Christ came to them. And his first word was “Peace.” The overwhelming love of God washed over them all. Everything else could wait, the words of regret, sorrow and shame. The most important point Jesus wanted to make was that he loved them, he understood them and he wanted to restore any damage to their relationship with him. Jesus then continued: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
He asked his followers to continue his work. To enable them to do this he promised the gift of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be with them to guide them, heal them and infuse them with Christ’s spirit of reconciliation.
It is the policy of the Archdiocese of Toronto that all children at the age of seven (Grade 2 or above) are to be prepared for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and given the opportunity to celebrate that sacrament. This must be done before the child is admitted into the preparation program for 1st Eucharist.
Registration for this Sacrament takes place in early September. Those in OLPH School will have registration packages sent home through the school though complete applications must be returned to the church. For those who go to a school other than OLPH, registrations are made available in the vestibule of the Church. These packages provide all the necessary information about what is required to register a child in the preparation program for this sacrament. Once registration is complete and the program of preparation has begun, no other children will be permitted to enter the program until the following year.
The Archdiocese recognizes two “phases” in a child’s preparation for sacraments, “initial” preparation and “immediate” preparation. Initial preparation is done first and foremost in the context of the child’s family. But it is also done in the religious education program offered at the Catholic School. The immediate preparation is offered through the parish itself and takes place in the months immediately prior to the celebration of the Sacrament.
For those children attending schools other than the Catholic school, the parish offers a series of lessons to instruct the children about the sacrament as a form of “initial” preparation. These children then also take part with the children from OLPH School in the “immediate” preparation offered by the parish.
The preparation for this sacrament runs through the fall of the year with the sessions being held on a weekday evening and the Sacrament itself is celebrated just prior to Christmas.
NORMS FOR DETERMINING THE PARISH IN WHICH YOUR CHILD IS TO RECEIVE BOTH HIS/HER INSTRUCTION AND RECEPTION OF THE SACRAMENTS
- Children who are regularly attending Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish are to receive both their instruction and their Sacrament at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
- Children who live within the boundaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish but are in the regular habit of attending and participating in another parish are to receive their instruction and their Sacrament in the parish they regularly attend.
- Children who are not in the habit of attending church regularly and who live within the boundaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish are to receive both their instruction and Sacrament at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. If you live within the boundaries of some other parish then it is to this other parish that you must go for instruction and the celebration of the Sacrament.
- If you are not in the habit of attending Church regularly and you live in the boundaries of a parish other than Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but you would like your child to receive their instruction and Sacraments at Our Lady of Perpetual Help because your child attends OLPH School, you will need to get a letter of permission from the pastor of the parish within whose boundaries you live.