DS1 made his first confession last night, one of about 100 kids in the Monday night RE classes -- there's another whole set that goes on Tuesdays.
We had to be at the church at 7:15. After dinner, we reviewed his examination of conscience and some recent events. At seven years old, there really isn't much occasion for serious sin, and his RE teacher had done a really terrific job in putting together an examination of conscience that's appropriate for second graders. I liked that he didn't try to weasel out of any of the things he really does do, like not listen to us, or tease his sister mercilessly sometimes, or completely lose his temper. He has a justified confidence in himself: he is a good boy.
So, knowing he isn't perfect and he does have sins (however minor they are in the grand scheme of things), and keeping in mind the specifics he needed to remember, off we went. He wasn't at all nervous, just a little excited and goofy.
Everyone congregated in the church yard, each class gathering around their teacher. Then all the classes went into the church, and the parents followed behind. Our pastor spoke and told a charming story about how, when he was a kid, he and his brother had broken one of their mom's favorite vases. ("Did you get in trouble?" -- You bet we did!) But his mom got some crazy glue and put the pieces back together, and the vase held water as good as ever. He told this story not just to put the kids at ease, but also to explain the origins of the word "reconciliation," to put back together. He told the kids that when we sin, we break ourselves, and God puts us back together through the sacrament of penance.
One by one the kids went off to a priest (there were seven priests hearing confessions altogether), and DS1 was fifth or sixth in his class. I did not have to wait too long at all. When he was finished, I met him in the aisle and we found a pew where he could say his penance, and then we left.
He was just bouncing off the walls, he was so happy. I don't even know if "happy" covers it... he was delighted. I had told him it would feel very good (because it always does), and he said, I know what you mean, now.
I think I will always remember this:
I feel like I just did something really, really fun, but I really didn't do anything at all!
That's the grace of God.