The Sacrament of Penance is ordinarily received for the first time in the 2nd grade. Preparation begins in the fall, and the Sacrament is received in mid-December, shortly before Christmas.
Not onlydoes it [the Sacrament of Penance] free us from our sins but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. We are liberated to be forgivers. We obtain new insight into the words of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned."
Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to the Church. The Sacrament of Penance is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. In confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God. It is a holy moment in which we place ourselves in his presence and honestly acknowledge our sins, especially mortal sins. With absolution, we are reconciled to God and the Church. The Sacrament helps us stay close to the truth that we cannot live without God. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
First Holy Communion
The Sacrament of First Holy Communion is ordinarily completed in the 2nd grade. Preparation begins early in the new year, with reception of the Sacrament sometime in the month of May.
As Catholics, we know that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith: it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has called it the "Sacrament of Love":
"The Eucharist is at the heart of 'Christian initiation', together with Baptism and Confirmation, and it constitutes the source of the Church’s life itself. From this Sacrament of love, in fact, flows every authentic journey of faith, of communion, and of witness."
For children who are preparing to receive their First Holy Communion, this is a big deal. And for all of us, no matter how many times we have received Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, it should always be a big deal. What makes it so special the first time is the same thing that makes it special every time!