John-Paul made his First Penance yesterday. Although his First Communion won't be until May, our pastor likes to do it in Advent so that the kids can go in preparation for Jesus' birth, than again in Lent, and then again on the day of their First Communion. I really like this approach.
Through his Catholic school, his CCD class, and having us as parents, J-P was thoroughly prepared! When we would go over the Ten Commandments to help him think about what sins he had committed (we didn't ask him his sins, just gave examples) he was so cute. He said "I could never break the First Commandment because I love God waaaaaay too much. I think all my sins are under the Fourth Commandment (Honor thy Father and Mother)." Ha! He's so honest :)
When he was done, he reported that he was not nervous at all, the priest told him he made a great confession, he had six things to do for his penance (I had to stop him from telling me what it was...telling him that it was between him and God), and that he wanted to go again tomorrow! Phil told him that if he didn't commit any sins between today and tomorrow, he wouldn't have to go to Confession at all...and that's the whole point!
Speaking of points, our pastor made a great one while talking to the kids before Confession. He said that just because a priest gives us a penance to make up for our sins, it doesn't really make up completely for our sins. Using his example, he said: If you punch Johnny in the face, does saying One Hail Mary really equal the sin committed? No. But if a priest said to say 3,000 Hail Mary's as the penance, the person might get discouraged and never go back to Confession. So the priest's "job" is to give a suitable penance but then our "job" is to make up for what was lacking in our penance in our daily life. That's when we can sacrifice our wants, pray, and commit good deeds. And once in a while we can get lucky and participate in a plenary indulgence to really wipe the slate clean.
We celebrated after by getting ice cream at Coldstone's. Nothing better than a clean soul and a yummy dessert, am I right?!?! Heck, I'll bring them to get ice cream after every Confession if it will help keep them away from mortal sin :)