A Lesson on God s Love and Forgiveness GRADE SEVEN

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1 UNDERSTANDING THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION A Lesson on God s Love and Forgiveness GRADE SEVEN

2 UNDERSTANDING THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION A Lesson on God s Love and Forgiveness GRADE SEVEN AIM Students will understand that sacraments are gifts from God and act as celebrations in prayerful conversation with God and in personal action. Students will learn that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing. REFLECTION Middle School students are able to understand the concept of sin and will comprehend and act on the need for reconciliation and healing in their lives. The forgiveness of sin committed after baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church) MATERIALS Large white (or light shade) construction paper Glue Scissors Old magazines (with pictures) Stencil letters Additional scrap construction paper (all colors) PRESENTATION Begin class with the following poem as an opening prayer: Love someone in God s name. Love someone for this is the bread of the inner life, without which a part of you will starve and die; and though you feel you must be stern, even hard, in your life of affairs, make for yourself at least a little corner, somewhere in the great world, where you may unload and be kind. Max Ehrman

3 Let us pray: Loving God, In your mercy we find the joy and peace of forgiveness. Strengthen our resolve to seek you in all areas of our lives. Carry us into the light of your love through personal conversion, penance, and healing. Amen. Review the names of the seven sacraments with the students. Have them identify the sacraments of healing as: Reconciliation, Anointing the Sick. Tell them that this lesson will focus on the sacrament of healing Reconciliation. Write the word Reconciliation on the board, explaining that the root word is reconcile. Discuss what it means to reconcile with someone. Have the students provide synonyms, or similes to assist in clarifying the meaning of the word. Read aloud and discuss the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Discuss and define the change of heart that Zacchaeus, the tax collector, had when he met Jesus. Incorporate the concept of conversion into the discussion. Refer to the root word reconcile and discuss how Zacchaeus reconciled himself with Jesus in the reading. Tell the students that they can experience reconciliation as Zacchaeus did through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Discuss further the concept of examination of conscience. As God s children we need to bring ourselves to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with an awareness of our sins and an honest willingness to change (conversion). Ask students to assist you in creating a list of reasons that one might seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. List these on the board. Distribute magazines. Have the students find picture examples of behaviors/actions that might lead to seeking reconciliation, and behaviors that show conversion and reconciliation. Distribute construction paper. Have students fold the construction paper in half. On one half of the paper they are to create a collage of pictures/words/symbols from the magazines that represents the need for reconciliation, and on the other half, pictures/word/symbols that represent conversion or healing. The may work alone or in pairs. Us the students collages to create a larger class collage on a bulletin board for display.

4 End the lesson with the following prayer: Dear Lord, loving friend, through the gifts of the sacraments, you give us the opportunity to always find the peace and joy of your forgiveness. Help us to look deeply into our hearts and recognize the sins that we have committed against you, our family and friends, and against ourselves. Give us the strength to move toward a conversion of heart and seek reconciliation with you. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

5 CHANGING OUR WAYS A Lesson on God s Love and Forgiveness GRADE SEVEN

6 CHANGING OUR WAYS A Lesson on God s Love and Forgiveness GRADE SEVEN AIM The students will recognize that sorrow for sinning should be accompanied by selfforgiveness and a willingness to change behavior. They will realize that Jesus wants us to seek Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. REFLECTION Through the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus addresses forgiveness from a divine and human perspective. The parable illustrates that God s forgiveness is complete and absolute, and that God does not hold grudges, but embraces the returning son (and each of us) joyfully with comprehensive love and mercy. The joy of the prodigal son s acknowledgment of sin and search for forgiveness results in neither reprimand nor rejection, but rather a feast of the highest order! The Lord delights in the son s (and our) return and desire for reconciliation. As the parable states, the prodigal son came to his senses, repented his sins, and returned to his home. This indicates that we must acknowledge our behavior, take responsibility for it, and come to terms with the human consequences. When we do this we are able to leave sin behind and live in the light of Christ. The final lesson of the parable is that as God s people, we must forgive each other. This is illustrated by the brother s lack of forgiveness and compassion for his brother. The story stands as a warning that lack of understanding and forgiveness of others comes with negative consequences. MATERIALS A bible for each student Catechism of the Catholic Church How to Celebrate the Sacrament of Penance handout Act of Contrition handout One-inch slips of paper for the lesson activity (make copies of sheet provided) Pencils/Pens Eight-inch star made from a dark colored piece of cardboard String Box of white facial tissue Glue CD of quiet reflective music Battery operated candles inserted in a Styrofoam block

7 PRESENTATION Prior to the students arrival in class, run the string over a light fixture, or hand the string so that it can raise and lower the attached star. This should be placed in the front of the classroom. Attach the star so that it is about shoulder high and visible as the students enter the room. Have quiet music playing as the students enter the room. Lower the classroom lights. When all are settled, give the students the topic of the lesson and bring them together with the following prayer. (Be sure to follow prayer with a minute of silent reflection). Let us recall that we are in God s holy presence. In the name of the Father God our Father, we know that through your Son Jesus Christ we can find forgiveness for our sins. Open our hearts and minds so that we can learn more about you in today s lesson. We yearn for the peace we find when we come nearer to you. We ask for your loving watchfulness as we share and learn together. We ask this through Christ, your Son. Amen. Read aloud the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and have the students follow along using their bibles. Discuss with the students some of the things the prodigal son experienced and the consequences of each. Talk about the final outcome of the parable the son s return, the father s forgiveness, the brother s attitude. Following the discussion have the students silently consider the following points (allow time for this): 1. How does the theme of the prodigal son impact your life? 2. How can the lesson of the parable of the prodigal son change my behavior? LESSON ACTIVITY Give each student two one-inch strips of paper copied from the sheet provided, and two facial tissues. Review the procedure of making a good confession as presented in How to Celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and using the Examination of Conscience handout. Pray the Act of Contrition together. After praying the Act of Contrition, give students time to reflect. On the one-inch strips of paper that you made copies of, and without writing their names, ask students to complete the following statements: I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for

8 I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for I recognize my sin and will ask for forgiveness for

9 Lesson Activity continued. Demonstrate how to make white tissue flowers from the facial tissue. Make several ahead of time to fill in bare spots on the star you prepared. Have students make white tissue flowers from the facial tissue given to them earlier. Have them wrap the slips of paper they worked on around the bottom of the flower(s) to act as a base. Play reflective background music during this exercise. Ask students to come forward with their flowers and tape or glue them to the star that you prepared (fill in the bare spots on the star with the extra flowers you prepared). As students add his/her flower to the star, light the small battery-operated candles in the styrofoam. When all have placed their flower on the star and returned to their seats, raise the star and secure it so that it becomes a permanent decoration in the classroom for a period of time. Conclude by praying the following: Lord, we have prepared the way for your arrival in our lives once more. Here, today, we have tried to make out way straight with trust that you love us unconditionally. We know that you will be with us as we try to change our ways and seek your peace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We cling to you with thanks and faith. Amen. If possible take the students to confession immediately following this exercise. Be sure to work with the priests from your parish to set this up.

10 Is my relationship with Jesus the greatest priority in my life? Have I ignored God, Mass and prayer? Do I only use God s name in a respectful way? Do others respect God and the things of God because of my example? Do I seek to bring about God s kingdom in my home, my parish, my community? Do I let things come between me and other people? Am I a gentle person? Do I treat other people as the gifts they are? Do I respond to others with understanding, or do I avoid those who are hurting? Do I use/develop my talents wisely? Am I a just person? Am I fair to my parents, brothers and sisters, teachers, everyone I meet? Do I reach out to people? Am I approachable? Do I listen to others? Do I forgive those who have hurt me? Do I care for those who are in need? Do I see the good in others? Do I react without thinking? Is my reputation more important than other people s? Does my love show itself in my willingness to give of my time to help others? How do I treat those who ask to use something of mine? Have I been jealous? Have I said hurtful things or ruined another s name? Have I cheated? Am I trying to look upon others as dwelling places of the Holy Spirit? Do I use substances that are not good for my health?

11 ACT OF CONTRITION O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. And I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, To confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

12 HOW TO MAKE A GOOD CONFESSION Prepare yourself by praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Make a good examination of conscience. Remember, God loves you and by your baptism calls you to be a follower of Jesus. Enter the confessional or reconciliation room (you may either sit before the priest or remain behind the screen). After the priest greets you, make the sign of the cross and say: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was (say when you last went to Confession) Now make your confession of sins. Ask Father for any help you may need. Be honest. Tell Father each sin and how many times you committed it. Listen as Father talks to you. He may give you some advice. Father will give you a penance it might be a prayer or a good action to do later as a sign that you intend to try harder to please God. Next, express your sorrow in a prayer to God. You may use your own words or the following Act of Contrition: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, And I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen. After your Act of Contrition, Father, as the representative of Jesus and the Church, grants the absolution (forgiveness of your sins. During this prayer, Father will extend his hands over your head).

13 Listen thoughtfully and receive the gift of forgiveness. Finally, Father praises God and tells you that you may leave in the peace of the Lord. Kneel down in Church and thank God for his forgiveness and grace. Remember to do your penance and try to follow Jesus.

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