Sunday, December 18, 2011


Went to a mandatory parent meeting for Little One’s CCD class this afternoon. Turns out she’s not just receiving Holy Communion for the first time in May. Every spring scores of little ones adorned in white dresses and veils or little navy blue suits march down the aisle at our parish to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus for the first time. So we were very excited and looking forward to it. But it turns out there’s an extra Sacrament involved.

Little One will also be partaking of the Sacrament of Penance for the first time. Known by several names, such as Reconciliation or Confession, it’s where one periodically enters a private room and speaks to a priest through a screen to have one’s sins forgiven after a valid listing in order and frequency. I go two, three, or four times a year. Generally when I walk out of the church on those Saturday afternoons I feel genuine elation.

So I was somewhat surprised that Little One will have her first confession in March. I could’ve sworn I didn’t do mine until I was in fifth or sixth grade. Don’t you have to be at a minimum age of consent, to know right from wrong, to accept responsibility for your actions? Sure, she does this … most of the time. At age seven, we’re still training her in these areas. More often than not we’re successful, and we’re happy with her moral development, but there are times were we are forced to send her to her room and I need to get (perhaps a little too) loud or physical with her.

(That’s something I take into the confessional with me.)

Yet I’m not sure she’s a hundred percent knowledgeable of right and wrong. She hasn’t metaphorically and metaphysically partaken of that Tree of Knowledge yet. Or has she? The older she gets, the less I am in contact with her, especially now that I’m working again. Whereas once I and my wife were the only moral figures in her life, now she has a half-dozen public school teachers, two CCD teachers, coaches, friends’ parents, even bus drivers to influence her on how to act and behave. Whereas once I dominated her day, now I see her, on average, two-and-a-half hours a weekday.

Regardless, it’s part of the surrendering that we as parents are called to do. Yesterday, lying motionless in bed from this chest infection I can’t seem to shake, Little One came up to me and gently ran her fingers through my hair. “Wake up, Daddy,” she said softly. “It’s time for dinner.” I cracked open a bloodshot eye and saw the concern in her eyes, the tender care for this stupid fool I am, and saw her for a more mature emotional being that perhaps the Church, in her wisdom, recognizes.

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