Sam has a big day coming up. He will be making his first Reconciliation on Saturday. Reconciliation is when we Catholics confess our sins to the priest, who acts as a liaison to God for us and gives us God's forgiveness for our sins. In my day it was called Confession. And then at some point it changed to Penance but now it's called Reconciliation. I wonder if the powers that be think changing the name will help ease the anxiety it stirs up in the kids. I remember before my First Confession/Penance/Reconciliation I was soooo nervous. Sitting there in the pew, waiting my turn, I was sweating bullets, wringing my hands and hoping it was just butterflies in my stomach and not the need to actually vomit. As if the priest was going to condemn me to damnation for "fighting with my sister and lying to my parents"
Anyways, back to Sam. He will be making his First Communion come May and in preparation needs to confess to his sins. As the big day draws near, I told him that he needs to spend some time thinking about how he may have sinned so he'd be prepared for his Reconciliation. He told me that his teacher said if they had trouble thinking of something they could just say they were sorry for everything. Okay, not exactly the soul searching answer God is looking for.
So we've been talking a lot about sin and what constitutes a sin. At first everything equaled a sin in Sam's mind. Not sharing...sin. Yelling...sin. Not finishing your dinner...sin. Forgetting to do chores...sin. sighing deeply when asked to brush teeth...sin. At the rate he was going the poor kid would be confessing for hours. I had to set him straight. Each night after prayers I would take some time and have him think if there was sometime during the day when he did something deliberately, on purpose that he knew was wrong. Depending on what he came up with, we'd determine if his offense went against the rules God set up for us to live by. This was not an exercise Sam looked forward to. Alright, I know, who would enjoy a nightly discussion of all you did wrong that day but just for the record we also talked about the many many ways he was a positive force in the world too. Sam's answer up until the last week or so, was "I don't know" or "I can't remember" or the ever popular "nothing" Teresa was right there to jog his memory though. For every "I don't know" and "I can't remember" Teresa had an offense of his at the ready. One memorable conversation unfolded as follows:
Teresa: Sam, remember you hit me? You hit me and you know that is against God's rules so you sinned.
Sam: Well...you sinned first.
Teresa: I did not! (very indignant)
Sam: Yes, you did! I hit you because you hit me! And now you're lying about it so that's another sin and lying is really really bad!
Teresa: (slight pause while the wheels spun and whirred) Well, fine. But I'M not the one making my Reconciliation...YOU are.
I'm hoping God will find it in his heart to forgive me for wanting to strangle the both of them at that moment.