The First Communion parents were gathered to listen to a talk on the Sacrament of Penance. It became apparent that some were uncomfortable with the idea that their children – or indeed they themselves – might be in need of God’s mercy and love in this sacrament.
‘Children don’t really sin, do they – they’re too young to understand.’
‘I don’t want my children frightened by telling them about hell and damnation at their age.’
‘We don’t really need to confess to a priest, do we? It’s okay` just to say sorry to God on our own, isn’t it?’
I would like to give some suggestions for the catechist who must respond to these kind of comments, explaining the Church’s teaching to those who either misunderstand it or are alienated from it.
The catechist must be a person of faith, hope and love with a strong grounding in the Church’s faith. He must be confident in the vision and hope for the future which the Church teaches and inspires, have a mature and courageous attitude to what love requires in order to deliver the truth. These three theological virtues must be foundational to catechesis, particularly where there may only be one chance to convey the truth of a doctrine or practice. They also provide the catechist with a sound framework for an answer or a discussion which utilises the true teaching of the Church rather than half understood concepts which have often been gained outside the Church, or in childhood.