By this beautiful Sacrament God gives all sinful members of His Church, "a direct, human, and personal encounter with the mercy of God" as found in the Gospel.  (CCC:1446) In this encounter "God, the Father of mercies" pardons His faithful for post-baptism sins that they confessed to the bishop or his priests. (CCC: 1448-1449). In the liturgical actions of this sacrament, especially in the formula of absolution, Jesus Christ reaches out to us in the depth of our soul and mind to lift us to our feet, and restores us to be more perfectly what we are: His saints, the reconciled children of God. He does so "to set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship Him without fear, holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life" (Luke 1.73).
The essential elements of the sacrament of Reconciliation are two: the acts of the penitent who comes to repentance through the action of the Holy Spirit, and the absolution of the priest who in the name of Christ grants forgiveness and determines the ways of making satisfaction.
The parishes normally prepare our children and families for this Sacrament prior to their First Holy Communion. This is their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: their first sacramental acts of Confession and of Penance. The Church's proclamation and celebration of God's loving mercy through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is the broad framework of the parish catechesis. Like adults children have a right to an ongoing catechesis in this Sacrament and to be encouraged to approach the Sacrament freely and regularly. Regular reception of the Sacrament is a beautiful way of co-operating with God the Father as the Holy Spirit graces us with what wholesome virtue we need in our continuing, lifelong conversion to Christ.
To learn more about Reconciliation, these resources may help:
© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto - used with permission