My First Reconciliation Through RCIA
Wow, I finally experienced my first reconciliation, also called “first confession” by many! Of all the portions of the Catholic RCIA process, this was the thing about which I was most nervous. Having to articulate — and thus face up to — all the wrong you have done in your life is not an easy task!
I love the idea of reconciliation, however. It forces you to regularly look your faults directly in the eye. There’s no hiding them shamefully in the back of your mind hoping you’ll forget them. That is not the path to self-improvement. If we want to become saints, or even just better versions of ourselves, we have got to start by discerning our flaws, acknowledging them and then addressing them. If you keep confessing the same sins over and over, that’s a sure place to start 🙂 on self-improvement.
I’ve been doing the Weight Watchers weight loss program over the last several years where I’m allotted so many points each day and week of food that I can eat. I find it greatly helps me resist an unhealthy choice because I stop and think “do I really want to waste 14 points on that?!!”
I feel like reconciliation gives me that same ability to resist. Since I did my first reconciliation, I stop myself when I start to do something wrong, as I can hardly stand to stain what has become so clean!
Reconciliation is an amazing gift for self-improvement and how wonderful that we are able to be forgiven of everything we have done wrong so long as we are truly sorry! It feels so joyful!
If you are nervous about reconciliation, here are a few tips that helped me for my first reconciliation through RCIA:
- Make a list, but destroy it as soon as you’re done. I found I was so nervous I could hardly think and having the words in front of gave me the courage to just plow ahead!
- Decide beforehand if you want to be face-to-face with the priest. Ultimately, I decided not to and I think that was a good call for the first time. Having to look someone in the eye while confessing your worst faults would have made me completely lose my train of thought I think.
- Relax. The priest is there to hear you, forgive you and nothing more. There is no judgement. Remember, he’s heard it all before!
- Don’t engage in a discussion. Just list out your sins, say your Act of Contrition and move on. Set up an appointment with the priest if you want to have a discussion.
- Go regularly! I already strongly desire to go back so I can wipe the slate clean again. Again, I think this is such an amazing healing gift.
Do those of you experienced Catholics have any advice on reconciliation. What has helped you?
[…] am thrilled that I have done First Reconciliation, which I was so nervous about. I feel like it’s all joy from here on out as I head into Holy […]
Dear Lyn, Your blog is beautiful. I hope Holy Saturday, will be filled with the peace and joy of Christ!
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is wonderful to remember that we encounter Christ in the Sacraments. No matter what our sin and flaws, God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness is endless. The part about the Father’s encounter with the prodigal son in the encyclical Rich in Mercy is a great way to prepare for this Sacrament. Our God is a God who only wants to love us. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we let God be that father who was forever looking down that road hoping to see his child.
Thank you so much! That is a wonderful thing to remember during reconciliation. He WANTS to forgive us :)!
I have found the late Michael Dubruiel’s “A Pocket Guide to Confession” an invaluable resource for the sacrament. It has a nice, concise examination of conscience and clear instructions on how to make a valid confession, along with a number of useful prayers to recite before and after receiving the sacrament.
I can’t add too much to your list of recommendations, as they’re spot on. I will note that you do not always have a choice about whether you’ll confess face-to-face or anonymously.
I much prefer to go behind the screen, but it’s not always easy. At the chapel I use, some of the priests have a habit of popping in and out of the room whenever there’s a pause in the line, and they’ll “helpfully” usher me into the chair for a face-to-face confession. In the end, I find it doesn’t make much of a difference. I still have to confess the same sins either way and the priests (in my experience at least) avoid making any show of recognition that could embarrass me.
My one real piece of advice is to offer prayers after your penance for your priest, all other priests hearing confessions, all those who desire to make a confession but haven’t found the courage and clarity of conscience to do it, and those who want to confess but can’t find a priest to hear it.
Finally, welcome home! May the Lord bless you!
Thank you so much for your comment and book recommendation. I am a book lover, so am adding it to my list! I also love the idea of praying for the priest and those who desire to make a confession but who haven’t found the courage. I know a few of those :). And good to know if I end up sitting in front of the priest that it won’t be much different. It was comforting how as, you described they avoid, “making any show of recognition” — more just listening.
Thank you for posting this. I will have to go look up the book you mentioned. This has worked to calm my fears some.
I’m going through the RCIA process and as the Rite of Election was brought up for the first time this past Sunday, it made me think about the next few months of class and how my first confession is approaching also. It made me very anxious last night thinking about it. I’m praying that between now and then, God will grant me courage and clarity to be able to have a good first confession. Thank you for your tips, I’m sure they will become helpful during my confession.
Thanks for commenting, Megan! Believe me, I was most nervous (and very much so) about First Reconciliation. But it’s such a blessing and great feeling not only just after you’re done but long after, as God gives you the strength to overcome some of the sins you struggle with. I know He will give you the courage to do it. Congrats on joining the church! Let me know if I can help you with any other questions you have as a “newbie.”
[…] faith, attending weekly mass and receiving special blessings. You got through the nerve-wracking first reconciliation and you made it through the long Easter Vigil finally confirmed in the faith and an official member […]
[…] to avoid. Or if you have someone going through RCIA, they’re likely very nervous about their First Reconciliation. I’ve got tips in my blog post on what I wish every RCIA candidate new about confession, but […]
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Thanks Lynn, I really needed this right now. I am soooooo nervous and scared about my very first confession. This helped a little to try to calm me, thankyou 🙂
[…] My First Reconciliation/Confession Experience […]
Oh good! No need to be afraid! It’s definitely difficult to articulate it all, but it’s SO worth it :).
My First Reconciliation/Confession Experience is coming up, I am a little nervous but not as bad as I was, do you have a prayer I can say when I go for the first time?
Hi Renee, That’s a great question! And it’s totally normal to be nervous about confession, but you’ll find the nervousness is worth it. It’s such an amazing sacrament. And I’m still nervous when I go and it’s been 6 years now! Here is a great prayer that I found:
Thanks for asking and God bless! I know you will do great :).