Children begin their preparation for First Holy Communion and Confession when they begin Year Three. We begin with a unique experience to St Gregory's called 'The Service of Light' where each child receives Jesus' light to strengthen them in their preparation to receive the sacraments. Children will make their First Reconciliation in Lent and their First Holy Communion on The Feast of Corpus Christ.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
This is the Sacrament of forgiveness, of God’s loving mercy and of conversion. As with the other sacraments it was instituted by Jesus Christ himself. It was on Easter Sunday when Christ first appeared to the Apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained”.
We are all sinners and struggle in the pursuit of holiness. God gave us all free will to make our own choices and we often fail to follow his teachings or even to recognise our own sinfulness. Each time we sin, we deprive ourselves of God’s grace and distance ourselves from his love, but we can be reconciled to him by being truly sorry and asking for his forgiveness. We do this by confessing our sins to a priest who is, in this sacrament, “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ). Jesus throughout his ministry welcomed sinners who were truly penitent. It is God, through the priest, who will forgive us and in so doing grace will be restored to our souls and we can once again try to resist sin.
Catholics as a minimum should go to confession once a year, especially during Lent as part of their spiritual preparation for Easter. The Church, however, recommends that they should receive the sacrament regularly and willingly to embrace it as a gift from a loving God. The more often a sinner examines his own conscience, the more discerning he becomes and the more likely, with the grace of the sacrament and the advice from the priest, he will be able to conquer the roots or habit of sin.
It is perfectly normal not to find it easy to confess sins. To make a good confession time needs to be taken to make a thorough examination of conscience beforehand, maybe at home or in the quiet of the church. Don’t hold anything back – sometimes this is for fear of what the priest may think. A priest either through his own experience in the confessional or during his seminary training will be able to handle pretty much anything and will have heard most things many times before. A priest wants nothing more than to be able to heal the breach between a penitent and God.
Sacrament of First Holy Communion
The Parish of St Gregory and St Gregory’s Primary School enjoy a close working partnership which ensures children are able to grow steadily in their faith. Masses for each school year are held on a regular basis in St Gregory’s church. In the Archdiocese of Birmingham preparation for First Holy Communion is undertaken in School within the RE curriculum. In year 3 children are prepared for both the sacrament of Reconciliation and for the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Children will be taught about their relationship with God, with the Church and with the wider faith community.
It is important, therefore, that there is a family commitment to this programme and regularly attending Sunday Mass will be a vital part of the child’s journey. Preparation for these sacraments will be a special time in their spiritual development.
Children will make their First Holy Communion at either Our Lady of Peace or St Gregory’s Church. The children will have learnt that Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament ( the consecrated host and wine). It is the source and summit of our Faith; there is no more precious gift than to receive Jesus himself in the Holy Eucharist.
Sacrament of Confirmation
Confirmation is a Catholic Sacrament of mature Christian commitment and a deepening of baptismal gifts. It is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation for Catholics. It is most often associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Sacrament of Confirmation confers special graces of the Holy Spirit upon the person being confirmed, just as such graces were granted to the Apostles on Pentecost. Like Baptism, therefore, it can only be performed once, and Confirmation increases and deepens all of the graces granted at Baptism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
The parish programme is run bi-annually for candidates at Year 10 level or older. Anyone interested should complete an application form and return to the parish office together with a letter addressed to the parish priest on why he/she wants to be confirmed.
It is expected that candidates, their families and sponsors attend the Youlbury weekend camp. There will also be a Day of Recollection prior to Confirmation.
The sessions are run in relaxed style, inter-active, lively and enjoyable. Together the candidates explore the deeper meaning of what it is to be a Christian in today’s world, discover the richness and treasures of the Church and most importantly, develop a closer and more personal relationship with God.
As with other sacraments, faithful weekend Mass attendance is an integral and important part of this preparation.
For more information please contact the parish office by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01789 292439.