…the child learns through the person of the priest that God is present there not to condemn him, but to forgive him.
The essential and foundational truth of the Christian gospel is this transaction of repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
It is a unique contribution to human religious consciousness and we take it for granted.
In fact no other religion offers direct and personal forgiveness of sins to a person. Have you ever thought of that?
Furthermore, while direct forgiveness is promised in Protestantism it is only in Catholicism that this promise is fulfilled through the apostolic power of the priest to absolve.
What a great gift, therefore for a child to receive at this early, foundational stage of their lives.
Finally, I have a personal experience when hearing the first confessions. How I wish that I had received such a gift at such an age!
As I look back on my life I think how many sins and foolish mistakes I would have avoided if I had only had the graces that come through confession.
I think how much earlier the wounds in my life would have been healed, how much earlier I would have been reconciled to God and to others.
I think how much sooner my life might have been directed towards God if only I had received the graces of forgiveness sooner in my life.
I see these children and see myself as a child and wish that the second grade Dwight had been able to go to confession.
For this lack I grieve and only wish that what was missing and the wound still unhealed might be put right before its too late.