Chapter Three: Celebrating Our Rescue (Reconciliation)

In this chapter we are helping the children to understand that we celebrate saying sorry. Saying sorry is about sorting things out, keeping friends and being reminded that God forgives us and this is a cause of great celebration! We experience JOY when we are forgiven. Even though we are all created good, we all make mistakes: but God is there to help us.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation – mirrored in the Penitential Act at Mass, where we reflect on our sins of the past week – is where God “rescues us” from losing our way, after we confess our sins to God and tell him that we want to become friends again.

Remember, forgiveness is something that should be an everyday activity – not something we reserve for the really “bad” stuff, but something we should experience ourselves and offer to others on a daily basis. If we can help our children to see this, reconciliation – the act of becoming friends again, instead of holding onto hurts – becomes part of our natural/regular habits.

Video by Portlaoise Parish, Ireland

Some questions to ask

Most of these are open ended and should be used to help your child explore these ideas/their feelings:

Q. Have you ever rescued anything that you love very much?
A. Answers will vary – it could be a teddy, a pet, a lost sibling, etc., but you will want to emphasise the feeling of relief or joy at finding the thing again. If your child mentions an example of not having found something and how devastating that can feel, you can still bring a positive message here: it shows us that – when it comes to feeling down and sad over something we have done wrong – we don’t want to stay in that place, as it is not a nice feeling or experience. We all want the joy of being rescued …

Q. Have you ever been in trouble or danger before? Or have you ever witnessed someone in danger being rescued e.g., a road accident, an animal being stuck or injured or some other trouble?
A. Allow you child to share freely. Maybe it is a family memory or story that you can reminisce on together. Maybe you need to tell the story of a time when you “rescued” them when they were very little and how you felt – the worry you felt and the great joy that replaced it, knowing they were okay/safe in the end. They will be interested to hear your parent’s perspective (which can illustrate how God feels when we get back on the right path), because – as parents – we do try and mirror God’s love in the way we love and care for them …

Q. How do you feel when you become friends again with someone that you might have argued with or who has upset you?
A. Your child may come up with all sorts of answers, but you want to emphasise the feeling of happiness at things being put right. We always feel better when we rebuild a friendship!

Q. How can God help us to become friends again with someone who has hurt us?
A. This will be a challenging question for your children to answer, but children do often come up with insightful responses. With this question, we are trying to show how we need God in our lives. Simple answers to this question could be “God can give me strength”, “I can learn to love those who hurt me, like God loves me” or “God shows me how to live in peace”. Some children may make the link with the story of the Good Shepherd and be able to say that “God will help and look after me, just like the shepherd cared for the lost sheep”

Suggested Activities

  • Page 22 – Encourage your child to think about what friendship means and why becoming friends again with someone we upset, or who has upset us, is so wonderful! Use any story that you may have at home about friends falling out and becoming friends again to make this point. Again, re-emphasize: It is important that our children know that they are still loved and lovable, even when they have been naughty. Spend time learning how to say the keyword on this page and understand what it means.
  • Page 23 & 24 – Real-life rescues can be very dramatic! Enjoy sharing stories and allowing your child to engage with this theme (which we use in this chapter to explain God’s desire to “rescue” us when we lose our way in life and his great joy when we are close to him again). If you don’t have a story of your own, there are usually plenty of news stories that you could use to illustrate the theme – e.g. the pilot who landed a passenger plane in the Hudson River in order to rescue all his passengers from crashing or the cat reunited with its owner, after being missing for 11 years (download Rescue Stories PDF). Allow your child to draw a picture inspired by your discussion.
  • Page 25 – Old Testament Reading: Daniel in the Lion’s Den – read the story to your child. Emphasise how amazing this rescue from God is! But as amazing and dramatic is the depth of TRUST that Daniel had in God – God is the one who does the rescuing: He is a faithful God who rescues and saves!
  • Page 26 & 27 – New Testament Reading: The Lost Sheep – Explain, as you read the story, how dangerous the shepherd’s job was – living in the wild and having to face fierce beasts who attack their sheep. God is like the good shepherd who cares for each one of his sheep. This is illustrated in the fact that the shepherd goes off looking for the one lost sheep. As your child colours their picture, explain that even when we are helpless, God can save us! Again, emphasize the celebration here at finding the lost sheep.
  • Page 28 & 29 – Sorting things out with God’s help! p28 will help your child to think about the feelings that can lead to wrongful actions and that sometime these feelings can be destructive (NB Feelings in themselves are neither good nor bad. They can signal to us know what is going on. It is what we DO with our feelings that can be good or bad). Make the link that – like in the Parable of the Lost Sheep – we need God to help us. He loves us like a parent, even when we do something wrong. This helps to move into looking at the Sacrament itself. Explain, using p29, that it is a time to sit with the priest (who stands in the place of Jesus), talk to him about where we need to be reconciled, and – in doing so – to be able to CELEBRATE being rescued by God. Be sure to affirm the POSITIVE nature of the Sacrament (which might include setting aside any negative experiences you parents may have had!) and also explain that anything done by accident is never sinful – but what we do deliberately is – because we cause damage to our relationship with God, others and with ourselves – and we need to bring those things to God.
  • Page 30 & 31 – Here, we begin helping our child identify the things that they might choose to bring to God. This process of reflection is called the Examination of Conscience – but we will be looking at this process in more detail in Chapter 4. So, just a gentle encouragement here, to help your child begin to identify what they want to bring to God, will suffice. The simple word search on p31 will help your child to recap their understanding of keywords connected to reconciliation. Remind them what each word means and how positive they are – including the word sorry: a powerful word, which can lead to all the other words on the page!
  • Page 32 – This is a time to give thanks together and to think about the kind things we can do to show our love for others. Also talk to them about what the Stations of the Cross are and where they are in the Church

Summary

  • Talk about the times we need to forgive each other in our family situations – and how difficult it can be!
  • Each night, talk about the day just gone, thinking about all the good things they have done, as well as the things that went wrong and caused unhappiness. Encourage your child to ask for forgiveness wherever this is needed.
  • Practise saying the keyword “Reconciliation” with your children and help them understand what that big word means. It is an idea – meaning “to bring together” or “to become friends again” – and it is a Sacrament – a celebration which brings God’s loving forgiveness.
  • Find the Confessional inside the church or look up pictures online. Their First Reconciliation will not take place in the Confessional though, but in the church, sitting with the priest where you can’t be heard by others (In fact, in general, the Sacrament can be celebrated anywhere where a priest is available).
  • Have your child do the online quiz (compulsory).